If you are a proud parent of a senior cat, you are well aware of the fact that old age comes with its fair share of health issues. However, as a devoted cat parent, it is your responsibility to make your cat safe, well, and comfortable regardless of her age.
It might sound cruel, but recognizing the signs your cat is dying is part of providing good care. It would be best if you recognized the signs to be able to offer either proper care, adequate comfort, or consider end-of-life options.
In those terms, cat parents often wonder, “is my cat sick or dying”. Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between the two situations. Keep reading to find out what are the signs of a cat dying, whether from old age or sickness.
How do I know if my cat is dying?
There are many signs your cat is sick of dying; you just have to observe her carefully. This is because cats are instinctively prone to hiding signs of weakness and disease.
However, if you pay attention, you will notice your cat is changing and spot at least some of the following signs your cat may be dying.
Significant weight loss
Significant weight loss is one of the first signs your cat is sick or dying. Weight loss is common in senior cats because they experience muscle loss.
Namely, as cats age, they become less efficient in digesting proteins. When there are not enough proteins in the body, the body starts using its protein reserves stored in the muscles, leading to muscle and weight loss.
Basically, even if the cat’s appetite is normal and she is eating the same, her body weight will continuously decrease.
Body temperature drop
Old cats have cooler extremities. As cats age and their organs begin failing, the body starts cooling down. This cooling is primarily apparent at the extremities.
Typically, cats are always warm to the touch because their body temperatures vary between 100.0 and 102.5 degrees F.
In comparison, the average person’s temperature is 98.6 degrees F. However, senior cats usually have body temperatures below 98F.
Increased hiding tendency
One of the more common signs your cat is dying is increased hiding tendency. Cats are generally very fond of seeking shelters and hiding spots.
However, an older sick cat will prefer spending most of her time in her hideout place. She may even start hiding in otherwise unusual places and refuse to come out even if offered a tasty treat.
Extreme lethargy is one of the signs your cat is dying. If your cat had go-all-day stamina and now prefers sleeping all day long, it means she is neither interested nor capable of physical activity. Depression and listlessness are also common in old, dying cats.
Decreased food and water intake
As cats get older, their senses deteriorate, and this is particularly true for taste and smell. Consequently, cats are somewhat reluctant to eat and have decreased appetites simply because food is no longer as appealing as it used to be.
Another sign your cat is dying is a lack of thirst. This can be even more dangerous for cats with kidney disease that need a significant amount s of water per day. Senior cats are at high risk of dehydration and must be encouraged to drink as much water as possible.
Changes in the appearance
Cats are notorious for their grooming habits. They are literally obsessed with hygiene and keeping themselves clean.
Senior cats are not so keen on spending time on grooming and self-care, which results in a messy and unkempt physical appearance.
Over time, as dirt starts accumulating and the coat tangles, the cat will produce a foul odor.
Senior cats are prone to frequent and unprovoked mood swings and personality trait changes. For example, cats that used to be cuddly may suddenly prefer spending time alone; playful cats become easily irritable and bully other cats, and cats that spent their entire lives indoors may try to escape and be outside.
The behavioral changes in old cats are the result of pain and cognitive dysfunction syndrome. The pain is usually due to chronic issues like arthritis, teeth problems, and pancreatitis.
Cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CDS) is the feline equivalent of Alzheimer’s disease and is the reason why senior cats start behaving differently. They are generally confused and forgetful. Senior cats with CDS are frequently getting lost.
When does euthanasia become an option?
If the signs your cat is dying are starting to interfere with her everyday activities and seriously affecting her quality of life, it is time to consider euthanasia.
It is an indisputable fact that euthanasia is an extremely difficult decision. Considering cats can live for well over 12 years, it is only logical for you to get too attached. Anyway, in some cases letting go is the best option for your cat. Euthanasia helps you too by shortening the emotional distress caused by your cat’s sickness.
When considering euthanasia, it is best to talk with your trusted vet and ask for guidance through the process. If you decide to have your cat euthanized, the vet will give her a special injection. The procedure lasts only a few minutes, and it is not painful at all.
Depending on where you live, some veterinary clinics and euthanasia services offer to perform the procedure at the comfort of your home.
Sadly, there comes a time that you will have to say goodbye to your beloved pet cat. Saying goodbye is the most challenging part of cat parenthood. However, it is inevitable.
Therefore, it is of paramount importance to recognize the signs your cat’s health is deteriorating and it might be dying. This is important in terms of considering euthanasia.
Euthanasia is a tough decision, but if your cat’s health is severely damaged and her quality of life consistently declining, that is the best option. When the signs your cat is dying are too obvious, holding on does more damage than letting go.