What Are the Symptoms of a Cat Dying?

As your cat approaches death, they will often display certain behavioral cues to tell you when it’s time to let go. They might seek solitude by seeking shelter within small spaces such as closets.

An anxious or stressed-out cat may become more attached to its owner as a sign of survival mode.

Low Body Temperature

As its organs slow down, a cat’s body temperature falls. As a result, they may feel cold and seek shelter under blankets or by lying on warm spots such as beds and sofas. If touching ears, paws, or tail is cool-to-touch it’s an indicator of their low body temperature.

As cats nearing death tend to withdraw into themselves and avoid contact with family and others when awake, this behavior serves to protect it from predators that prey on weaker animals. A lethargic cat who spends its days sleeping or seems too weak to move is another telltale sign.

Lethargic cats often stop grooming themselves as their condition deteriorates, leading to an unkempt coat that develops mats or becomes wet and smelly. As their strength wanes further, their hind legs may begin to have difficulty being moved around freely.

Physically, the death process for cats may last weeks or days depending on their diagnosis and health condition. At first, active dying will cause pain and discomfort until eventually becoming unconscious and passing away.

Lack of Appetite

An animal that is dying often loses interest in eating and water, even when offered. This is an understandable response as their bodies begin shutting down and no longer produce energy on its own.

Encourage your cat to drink by using an oral syringe or squirt bottle to gently deliver water squirts into their mouth. Be careful to only deliver small amounts at a time; forcing too much fluid down their throat could result in choking or pneumonia if too much fluid enters at once.

Cats that are near death often exhibit signs of diminished appetite and changes to the texture and taste of their saliva, as well as reduced grooming activity. These behaviors could be your cat’s way of telling you it’s time for him or her to pass.

As well as experiencing decreased appetite, your cat may also exhibit heavier and slower breathing, producing what is known as “death rattle” noises and developing dilated eyes.

As a cat reaches its last days of life, they may begin hiding or becoming increasingly attached to family members who typically provide affection and attention. Other indicators may include drooling, neglect of grooming and an overall disorganized appearance. It’s important to understand that cats experiencing this stage can experience immense physical discomfort; therefore it can cause them to act aggressively towards humans in response to whatever stimulus exists at any one time.


As your cat’s health deteriorates, she may develop seizures. These seizures could be a telltale sign that she’s close to death and should be examined by a veterinarian immediately; should they confirm her early stages of death they will probably advise euthanizing.

An animal that is dying may experience strokes. A stroke occurs when blood flow to the brain is interrupted, leading to symptoms like weakness on one side of their bodies, difficulty walking, appetite decrease and seizures.

Cats that are dying may exhibit symptoms such as heart attacks. Heart disease can lead to other medical issues in cats such as labored breathing, weight loss and panting; and general lethargy. If your cat has advanced heart disease and develops these symptoms it’s time for discussion with your vet regarding euthanasia.

An elderly cat often becomes less active and sequesters herself into certain rooms of her home to reduce predator threats. This is an instinctive response: weak animals pose greater danger.

Difficulty Breathing

Anxious about watching your beloved cat decline can be one of the most heartbreaking aspects of pet ownership, so knowing when it is best for both parties involved is critical in making an informed decision that benefits both parties involved.

As their lungs weaken with age, breathing becomes labored for dying cats. They may pant while making wheezing sounds or stop altogether for brief periods while their heartbeat slows. Agonal breath may occur as their unconsciousness sets in; this appears like sudden spasms of effort as the animal slips further away from conscious awareness.

Your cat could be showing signs of impending death by losing appetite and decreasing in frequency/consistency of their bowel movements, becoming lethargic or beginning to lose weight as they no longer have enough energy for feeding and water intake as usual.

Your cat’s body temperature can also be checked using a thermometer or by palpating their paws and tail, to see if they feel warm to the touch. As their temperature decreases, cats will seek warmth in places such as their bed or under the covers; when their paws or tail become cool to touch this may indicate nearing death. You could also try measuring their heart rate by placing your hand on their chest and counting their beats per minute; normally healthy cats would typically have 20-30 beats per minute in comparison to when dying their heartbeat drops significantly as it continues.


As the body prepares to rest, the muscles that control bladder and sphincter relax, leading to involuntary urine releases. If this causes discomfort for your cat, a soft bed lined with towels may help absorb any spillage. Urge incontinence is often an age-related symptom or caused by health conditions like stroke, Parkinson’s disease or multiple sclerosis that disrupt messages between bladder and brain; over-the-counter incontinence tampons like Impressa or Uresta may provide temporary relief; pessaries may also offer support;

Foul Odor

As your cat’s organs cease functioning properly, toxins accumulate in its body as its vital functions fail. Urinary tract infections may also develop as its health declines further and closer to death.

Cats that are close to death often refuse food and will often gather around their water bowl, yet remain without drinking from it. This behavior may indicate their body can no longer process nutrition properly, leading to dehydration and weakness that will leave their appearance sunken and dehydrated.

As cats near death, they will stop grooming themselves properly and their coat will become matted and disorganized. Long-haired cats may develop mats in their fur. According to Home Pet Euthanasia of Southern California, as the body releases its toxins it also creates an unpleasant odor that pervades throughout its presence.

As they recognize that their life is about to end, dying cats typically become reclusive and hide from family members, fearful that predators could attack while vulnerable. Instead they may prefer spending their last days sleeping peacefully in their favorite spot rather than playing with their owners as usual.