Do cats prefer to die alone? This is a common question as some of us who have experienced a cat death in our households, they tend to stay away from everyone and just keep to themselves when they pass. But is there more to it? Should we really leave them alone?
Contrary to popular belief, cats do not prefer to die alone. However, they do so due to their instincts. When a cat is ill or dying, their instincts dictate for them to hide from predators. Further, they stay away from others as this will ensure that they get proper rest.
This might be a morbid topic to discuss, but it is something that you should know so that you can help your cat in his dying days. Surely, he does not want to be by his lonesome when it is time for him to go to pet heaven. Therefore, we are going to talk about why this behavior came to be.
More than that, we are also going to talk about the signs that you should be on the lookout to see if your cat is unwell. Definitely, this difficult time for your cat will be made meaningful with your company.
Why Do Cats Go Away When They Are Dying?
The book of Desmond Morris entitled Cat World – A Feline Encyclopedia, states that cats have a bit of an advantage over humans when it comes to death because they have no idea that they are dying.
This might give you a sense of comfort knowing that your cat was not terrified of dying during his last days.
Based on their evolutionary point of view, when they feel that something is terribly wrong with them, they just go away and hide.
This mimics what happens in the wild where weak cats need to hide from bigger predators as they can no longer protect themselves because they are now easier targets.
This is also the reason why it is too late for your cat to be taken to the vet when in fact they are seriously ill. They are wired to hide their weakness so that they will not look vulnerable. In correlation, this is also what mother cats do when they have just given birth.
They tend to withdraw and hide her kittens from their owners because they are too weak to defend themselves. You might ask if this also happens in a comfortable and loving household. The answer is yes.
You just have to blame “instincts” on this as there is nothing you can do. No amount of companionship with your cat can prevent him from going away when they are sick.
Therefore all you have to do is always observe his behaviors so that you can immediately know if there is something wrong.
What Are The Signs To Look For?
Due to the instinctive solitude that cats have, it is extremely hard to tell if there is something that ails them. This can be a number of things, so keen observation is key.
You might think that this is a handful, but of course, we are talking about the welfare of your furry friend, so all is worth it.
According to the Feline CRF Organization, the dying behaviors of a cat may vary. But there are general behaviors that are a surefire way of telling that your cat is seriously ill or dying. These are the following.
1. Changes In Personality
Just like humans, your cat’s demeanor changes when he does not feel well. If you have an outgoing cat, you might notice that he does not crave attention a lot or will simply avoid you. At the same time, he can exhibit irritability when you try to hold him.
This does not necessarily mean that he does not want to be held. It can be because holding him is too painful for his body to handle. On the other hand, if you have a very independent cat, you might notice that he needs a lot of attention.
This means that he no longer wants to eat by himself, rather he wants you to actually feed him. Moreover, he may want to always be close to you and demands that you always touch him.
As we have discussed earlier, this is a huge sign that your cat may be extremely sick or even dying. Your cat will look for a comfortable place to rest where he cannot be bothered. Keep in mind that they usually look for shaded and cool areas.
If you let your cat out, this might pose a problem as it will be difficult to look for them when they do not automatically come home. Therefore, try to look under bushes or even under your car.
In contrast, indoor cats will also do the same but for them, they will look for dry, cool, and dark areas. So, you might find them under your bed, in your closet, storage rooms, attics, or cellars.
Keep in mind that no matter how hard it is to find your cat’s hiding place, you should do so. The reason behind this is that cats who are seriously ill do not even bother to drink or eat once they settle in their hiding place. Further, they will not even use the litter box.
3. Eating Behavior
This is also one of the important signs to observe. Before your cat goes into hiding, she will usually refuse to eat and drink. This goes as far as even rejecting to eat her favorite treat.
The sad news is, in the event that you were able to locate your cat and you tried feeding her or making her drink, but she refuses, it is likely that she is close to dying.
You have to remember that it is normal for a cat to refuse drinks or meals twice. But if she is still unable to eat and drink the next day, you have to take her to the vet for an examination.
Of course, you do not have to always worry that your cat is dying when she refuses to eat, but this is a big sign that you should always observe.
Further, another sign that your cat is ill or dying is the fact that she sits next to her water bowl. She might even hang her head over the bowl even when she is not drinking.
4. Changes In Appearance
Cats love to groom themselves. In fact, they take time out of their day just to keep their unruly hairs at bay. Therefore, if you see that your cat has an unkempt appearance, this is a sign that something is bothering them.
This happens because he is too weak to groom himself. You might also notice that his hairs shed too much and that there are small clumps. If your cat is very weak, then he might even pee on himself and that can develop matting on his fur and eventually an odor.
Besides the sickly appearance of your cat, his eyes may look dilated when it is close to dying. In some cases, he might even have glazed eyes or may look blind. Another sign of extreme dehydration is that his eyes will look sunken.
If you try touching the corner of his eyes and he does not blink, this means that he is in and out of unconsciousness and probably close to dying.
Another big sign that your cat is dying is the occurrence of seizures. A single seizure in a span of three or four months is nothing to freak out about, but you still have to consult your vet once this happens. We are talking about seizure episodes that are happening almost every day.
Your cat is having a seizure when he starts yowling and throwing his head backward while doing an uncomfortable-looking arch on his back. When your cat is experiencing severe seizures, he will not be responsive and he might not even try getting up.
If your cat has seizures episodes with just hours in between, this is a huge sign that he is close to dying. So just comfort him and try to help him during this trying time.
How To Care For A Dying Cat?
You really do not have anything much to do, but just let death take its course. Once you find your cat, you can designate a place for him or her to settle down. Make sure that this area is dark and far from noise. Also, provide a comfortable place for your cat to lie on.
Minimize any handling and just try to soothe your cat with gentle and light strokes. Assure him that he is safe and that you are with him along the way. This will minimize the anxiety of your cat on whatever it is that he is feeling as he does not even know that he is dying.
Once you feel that it is his time, stay with him. He might have the instinct to hide, but he will appreciate your company in this difficult time, knowing that even when he is distressed, he was safe and not alone.
How to know if my cat is dying of old age? The signs differ but observe his breathing patterns. If there is wheezing and is inconsistent, this is a big sign that it is almost his time. Also, seizures tend to happen a lot when your cat is dying of old age.
Should I euthanize my cat? You should always consider if this will be for the better passing of your cat. If he has severe pain, untreatable cancer, respiratory distress, and other systemic diseases, euthanization can help him have comfort, even in death.