Do Cats Know When They Are Dying? Here Is How Their Behavior Changes

Nidhi Sahai
Feb 18, 2023 By Nidhi Sahai
Originally Published on Oct 22, 2021
Edited by Luca Demetriou
Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj
Close up of a sick ginger cat sleeping
Age: 3-18
Read time: 8.1 Min

Cats do not know about their death but they do realize something is wrong with them and then they behave quite differently.

It is indeed the most gloomy part of a pet cat parent’s life when they see their beloved pet dying in front of their eyes. And this thing comes as a successor to the changed behavior that cats show.

The behavior of cats will shift from normal to an animal of submissive nature. As the cats enter into the senior stage of their life, many age-related diseases start to evolve, which is very common with every pet.

Some pets can die because of these diseases very suddenly, while some develop a slow process that requires great care by their human parents for a long time.

People of Egypt believe that the cat has a sixth sense. You can help a cat in the final stages or hours of dying with the proper guidance of your veterinarian.

Most of the pet cat owners presume that their cats might be knowing about their death when they start acting weird, but actually, cats do not understand the concept of death or know when they are going to die. They cannot anticipate it.

Whenever any animal falls seriously ill, that doesn’t mean that they have understood their time has come, instead, cats, as well as other animals, just feel that something is wrong and is threatening.

They think they are under attack by some predator when their body feels pain. The unique sense of many cats to understand their nearing time can be very rarely seen in other animals.

Got an interest in cats or are you a cat lover as well? Here you can learn about this little animal on our why do cats hate water and why do cats hiss article pages.

Signs That Your Cat Is Dying

These signs and patterns are quite the same and often come into notice if your pet cat is showing them frequently. Cats are very unpredictable sometimes and change their habits from time to time. Here are the signs a cat is dying.

When the time is near, you can see a sudden decrease in the appetite of your cat. This can happen because of many things like nausea, pain, difficulty in swallowing, and many more.

It is because the body loses the ability to perform the natural processes of food processing. They will stop drinking much.

Extreme and sudden weight loss is also one big sign and that can happen in the final month or weeks or hours because the cat stops eating anything. And so, weakness also gets developed in the body of the cat because of which they start to hide at different places.

Cats also do not feel like doing any active activity and often show signs of lethargy. They tend to sleep all day or lay on the bed.

Very low defecation and urination is also a sign.

Bradycardia is one sign, in which the heart rate of the cat decreases significantly over weeks. A healthy cat has a normal body temperature of 100–102.5°F (37.77-39.16 ℃ ), but when they approach their end of life, their body temperature tends to decrease and the body becomes less efficient in regulating the temperature.

You can check the paws and ears of your cat and realize that they have become unusually cold. The cat’s body may develop a particularly bad odor because they stop grooming themselves also.

Their sense of smell also gets diluted. A slow and deep panting called Agonal breathing occurs when a cat’s end-time approaches.

Sometimes, bronchial and saliva secretions can build in the back region of the cat’s throat because the swallowing and coughing reflexes decrease, which later results in a rattling sound, gurgling, which is also called ‘death rattle’. The pupils of a cat’s eyes also become enlarged.

What to do when your cat shows signs of dying?

Taking care of a pet cat is indeed a tough approach especially during this time. You should try to make your pet as comfortable as you can or as it needs during the last few weeks or days of its life and support it.

The treatments of this time mainly focus on pain relief, giving comfort, controlling the ill body, but not curing the problem the cat is facing.

It will be better if you can make regular appointments and talk with your veterinarian to talk about, know and understand the end time of your cat. You can ask for ways to control the symptoms your pet cat must be showing or giving more comfort to it.

There are some cats that have kidney diseases and so they are chronically dehydrated. In this condition, you can always administer subcutaneous fluids to make your pet cat feel better.

You need to change the environment also around the cat and avoid maximum movement to prevent energy loss.

You can place a litter box and water bowl for drinking very close to the cat so that it doesn’t need to roam in the surrounding area and go to different places. We know that the cat loses its appetite, and so in this condition, you can feed the cat with your hands which is also a warm gesture.

During the last day, let your cat choose wherever it wants to sleep. They often like to sleep with their human parents or somewhere isolated.

During the last days, avoid inculcating any major changes in your house.

A cat's comfort gets disturbed when it realizes a change in the member of the family. You can also avoid the frequent coming of guests or family friends during these days.

Try to make everything familiar to the cat. You can also treat your cats with their favorite food one last time, though they won't be able to eat much.

Sick cat sleeping on blanket covered on the bed

What are the behavioral changes in cats when dying?

There are many behavioral patterns that cat shows about their near-death time. If you will pay more attention to the signs that your cat gives you, like communicating differently, not paying attention to you, you may realize your furry friend is not well and its life can come to an end very soon.

Showing clingy behavior is most common and cats like this might prefer being on their own during the last time. Sometimes they seek human comfort also, so if you notice your cat is not leaving your side, you should understand that they need you now very much.

Loss of interest in those things which once used to be the favorite of the cat is very common.

Cats usually isolate themselves from playing games, chasing small animals or flies, waiting for people to greet them, and showing excitement.

All the favorite activities of the cats will no longer seem important to them. These personality changes often get accompanied by extreme antagonistic behavior and the cat may start to reject your warm affection.

A series of seizures is also very common in cats before their death. They may arch their back, yowl, and throw back their heads during this time.

To provide comfort during this time, let your pet cat be in a corner of the room where they feel the most comfortable so that effects can be bearable for them.

Avoid the placements of furniture, or any sharp object should be around them to ensure safety.

A dying cat shows signs of weakness due to decreased body temperature and less eating because of loss of appetite, and so you should add a litter box very near to it so that the cat may feel comfortable resting at one place only. Cats can also know when other cats are not feeling well.

How to know that your cat is dying?

It is quite easy to understand that there is something wrong with your dying cat. You will very easily make out that maybe it's the end of life of your cat. Cats themselves point you signs and changes from their daily life enough to prepare you for their condition and death. A cat may need a proper veterinarian care

You can say that a cat has a sense as they realize their end is nearing. They will get weaker and cannot shoe activeness every successive week.

Cats have a tendency not to show their weakness to anybody.

To avoid this, cats hide in the dark where it is very difficult for humans to see them. You can keep a geriatric cat inside because cats usually like to find a quiet place away from humans or other animals where they can easily die.

They even stop grooming themselves.

They even start to smell a certain way. If you notice that your weak cat is wanting to go out of the house more these days, do not let that happen, because during this time, once a cat goes, it never returns back.

Make it feel comfortable and loved at your brown house so that they can die in peace and comfort. Departing a cat this way will even generate more heartache in the owners as they won't be knowing where their cat is or what it does all these days before dying.

If you see your weak cat is often willing to spend some warm shielded place in your neighborhood to sleep instead of sleeping at home, you should immediately do something about it.

Don’t let your weak cat leave your side, support it, make it believe that it can also hide indoors anywhere like the closets, under the bed, sit on a shelf. This way they won’t feel alone and you also will be able to spend the good final days with your cat as pet owners.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for do cats know, when they are dying then why not take a look at why do cats like fish or Ragdoll facts?

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Written by Nidhi Sahai

Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Nidhi Sahai picture

Nidhi SahaiBachelor of Arts in Journalism and Mass Communication

Dedicated and experienced, Nidhi is a professional content writer with a strong reputation for delivering high-quality work. She has contributed her expertise to esteemed organizations, including Network 18 Media and Investment Ltd. Driven by her insatiable curiosity and love for journalism and mass communication, Nidhi pursued a Bachelor of Arts degree from Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University, graduating with distinction in 2021. During her college years, she discovered her passion for Video Journalism, showcasing her skills as a videographer for her institution. Nidhi's commitment to making a positive impact extends beyond her professional pursuits. Actively engaging in volunteer work, she has contributed to various events and initiatives throughout her academic career.

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Fact-checked by Vikhaash Sundararaj

Bachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

Vikhaash Sundararaj picture

Vikhaash SundararajBachelor of Fine Arts specializing in International Business

With a background in International Business Management, having completed his degree at the University of Hull. Vikhaash has volunteered with 'Teach For India' to help students create a monthly newsletter. In his free time, he enjoys sports and was the assistant captain of his school's hockey team. He has also gained marketing experience through an internship at Decathlon Sports India.

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