Dying Cat – Signs a Cat is Dying

Last Updated on January 12, 2021 by Julia Wilson

As a cat moves towards their senior years, age-related diseases become commonplace. While some cats can die very suddenly, many of these diseases are slow and progressive, and with veterinary care, can be managed for an extended period. Eventually, the cat will progress into the late stage of the disease and move into the dying phase.

Physical signs

Death is a unique experience for every cat, and symptoms can vary depending on the underlying health issue. The active phase of dying can begin weeks or months before the cat dies.

  • No longer eating and drinking
  • Extreme lethargy
  • Decreased urine or bowel movements
  • Urinary and fecal incontinence
  • Lowered heart rate (normal heart rate of an adult cat is 130 to 240 beats per minute, as the heart weakens near death, the heart rate can significantly decline)
  • Coughing and swallowing
  • Drop in body temperature (normal temperature in cats is 100 – 102.5°F or 37.7 – 39.1°C. The ears and paws may feel cool to the touch, an ear thermometer is an invaluable tool for the pet owner to monitor the cat’s temperature
  • Weakness
  • Weight loss
  • Odour
  • Agonal breaths, a slow deep gasping which occur as the cat nears death
  • Dilated (enlarged) pupils in both eyes

Behavioural signs

Cat sleeping

  • Hiding
  • Loss of interest/social withdrawal
  • Sleeping more
  • Changes in cognitive function

End of life care

Palliative care for cats

Palliative care is a multifaceted approach to care for cats with a life-limiting illness. The aim is to provide a good quality of life by making the cat as comfortable as possible in the last few days, weeks or months of his or her life. At this point, the goal of treatment focuses on providing comfort, pain relief, and manage clinical signs but not curing the disease.

Schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to discuss an end of life plan, at which time you can discuss how to manage your cat’s symptoms such as pain and hydration. Cats with advanced kidney disease are chronically dehydrated, and it can be a great help if the caregiver can administer subcutaneous fluids to help.

Pain relief:

Some end of life diseases can be painful, and your veterinarian will be able to prescribe medication to ease pain and discomfort. Cats can’t tell their caregiver they are in pain, subtle signs of pain include hiding, loss of appetite, drooling, neglecting to groom, sitting hunched over, restlessness, and loss of interest in surroundings.

Only give painkillers which have been prescribed by your veterinarian, cats aren’t small humans are unable to metabolise many common painkillers.

Make adaptations:

Place the litter box and food bowls in an easy to access area close to the cat. It is not helpful for the terminal cat to climb a flight of stairs to reach the litter tray or food bowls. Raise food and water bowls so that your cat doesn’t have to bend over. Senior cats and cats in pain can find it difficult to step into a litter tray; it can help to provide one with low sides.

Offer food by hand:

In late-stage disease, cats can lose their appetite. Try to offer small amounts of food; at this stage, hand-feeding will be necessary. BBQ chicken slightly warmed up, baby food or some canned tuna may entice the cat to eat, but at the very end, even this will often be refused.

Maintain warmth:

Very sick cats, especially senior cats, are often not as good at maintaining body temperature. Make sure the cat has a warm and comfortable place to rest. The area should be easy to clean as very sick animals often have elimination problems.


Give your cat the option of where to sleep. The cat may prefer to sleep in the lounge room close to their human companions, or in a quiet spot elsewhere in the house. Let the cat decide where he or she is most comfortable.

Maintain routine:

Keep your cat’s home life as simple and familiar as possible. Avoid any major changes and keep visitors to a minimum.

Groom and clean the cat:

It may be necessary for the caregiver to help groom and keep your cat clean, especially cats who are in pain. Clean the cat if he has soiled himself and change his bedding.

How to comfort a dying cat

Comforting a dying cat

Some cats prefer relative isolation when they are dying, which means they choose to hide in a quiet spot. Where practical, respect that. Other cats want the comfort of their human or pet family, and that is okay too. Follow your cat’s lead.

  • A dying cat needs quiet and calm. Keep household noise to a minimum and if practical, move the cat to a quieter part of the house away from the everyday hustle and bustle such as their favourite human’s bedroom.
  • Stay with the cat as they are dying, your presence will calm them.
  • Talk quietly and calmly to the cat.
  • Dim the lights, and turn televisions or radios down.
  • If the cat has a canine or feline companion, allow them to be with the cat if that is what the dying cat wants, unless the cat has a highly infectious disease.
  • An immobile cat can develop pressure sores, ensure they have a cozy and well-cushioned bed.
  • Keep fresh water available and close to the cat’s bed. Offer food on your finger.

When is the right time to euthanise?

When is the right time?

A common theme among the comments is guilt over waiting too long or euthanising too early. None of us has a crystal ball, and our cats can’t tell us when they’ve had enough. We have to make the best decision we can, but with the added complication of wanting to fight for our cats, clinging to hope and not wanting to let go, it becomes a very complex and difficult decision.

Dr. Mary Gardener, founder of Lap of Love – an in-home euthanasia practise – talks about the four types of budget in a recent vlog on pet euthanasia with Dr. Sue Ettinger.

  • Financial budget: End of life veterinary care can range in costs depending on the underlying disease.
  • Time budget: A terminal pet often requires intensive home-care, which can take up a considerable amount of time. If you work full-time out of the house or travel a lot, this can impact on your ability to provide optimal care.
  • Physical budget: Are you physically able to care for a terminal cat? Lifting him or her out of the litter tray if they are unable to walk, managing accidents, taking the cat for veterinary check-ups?
  • Emotional budget: Caring for a terminal cat has a huge emotional toll. For me, caring for my cat for over 6 months during her cancer treatment was emotionally hard. Some of our pets are a link or a bridge to the past. They represent our childhood, a marriage, a difficult period in our lives, a family member who is no longer with us, all of which can make it even harder to let go.

Dr. Gardener goes on to say that ‘if any of these budgets are up, she supports a pet owner’s decision to say goodbye‘.

Questions to ask:

  • Am I keeping them alive for me, or them?
  • Think of two or three things your cat enjoys (chasing flies, playing with scrunched up paper balls, lazing in the sun, jumping on the dog’s tail, greeting you at the door after work) are they still getting pleasure from them?
  • Do you want to keep the cat alive because they are still enjoying life or because you can’t bear the thought of them not being around anymore?
  • What will the cat miss if he or she is not here tomorrow?
  • Is the cat having more bad days than good?

These questions can help to give clarity during such a difficult and emotional time when we are dealing with denial, bargaining, grief, fear, and uncertainty.

Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist, created a quality of life scale which can help caregivers and veterinarians determine when the cat’s quality of life is such that euthanasia must be considered.

Frequently asked questions

Is my cat in pain?

Pain can be hard to gauge in cats, they are hardwired to hide pain, but subtle clues do can indicate that a cat is in pain.

Is my cat in pain?

  • Crouching
  • Lying on the side
  • Tense body
  • Crying and meowing
  • Half blink
  • Downward, flattened ears and whiskers pulled back
  • Tucked up belly
  • Panting
  • Trembling of shivering
  • House soiling

Not all life-ending diseases cause severe pain but they can make the cat feel extremely unwell, which affects their quality of life.

Do cats know they are dying?

Author Desmond Morris writes in his book Cat World that cats don’t understand death or know they are dying. Pet owners assume cats must know they are dying because many hide in the days or hours before death. But hiding is typical behaviour in sick animals. A sick animal wants to make himself as inconspicuous as he can to avoid becoming a target to other animals which may see him as an easy target. Predatory animals pick out the young, the old and the weak. So from a self-preservation angle, it makes sense that a sick cat wants to hide.

Is it okay to let my cat die naturally?

No, it is not. Towards the end of a cat’s life, he or she will experience pain and discomfort. As organ failure develops, toxins build up in the blood, of the cat can experience difficulty breathing and cognitive dysfunction. Human hospice care involves around the clock analgesics which are typically administered intravenously. While a veterinarian can prescribe analgesics for a cat in the end stages of a disease, there is only so much they can do. The kindest thing you can do for your cat as they near death is to give them a peaceful exit.

How do I deal with my dying cat? 

The anguish of watching a beloved pet die is all-consuming but it is the cost of admission when we choose to bring a pet into our lives. Find a supportive friend, family member or group to offer a sympathetic ear. Do not go through this alone.

Why do cats go away to die?

Not all dying cats go away to die, a cat who is outside and becomes seriously ill (through trauma or disease) may not always have the strength to return home and will seek out a hiding spot such as a shed or under a house or bush.

There’s a difference between a cat slowly losing his health to progressive diseases such as kidney disease and cancer, which can take months to reach end-stage, to a sudden trauma such as being hit by a vehicle or dog attack where the cat may die at the scene or crawl away and die shortly afterwards.

Do cats purr before they are about to die?

Cats can and do purr when they are in pain, so it is possible a cat could purr when they are dying.

There is a cycle of love & death that shapes the lives of those who choose to travel in the company of animals. It is a cycle unlike any other. To those who have never lived through or walked its rocky path, our willingness to give our hearts with full knowledge that they will be broken seems incomprehensible. Only we know how small a price we pay for what we receive; our grief, no matter how powerful it may be, is an insufficient measure of the joy we have been given.

Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care. Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time. Full author bio Contact Julia

55 thoughts on “Dying Cat – Signs a Cat is Dying”

  1. Thank you for helping me understand. my cat is 17 and has brought me much happiness, comfort, and joy. She is a rescue from Florida hurricanes in 2004. My family doesn’t understand my sadness of watching her die. I have given as much of me and nutrition as I could.

    • Hi Sarah, I’m so sorry to hear about your cat. It is clear how much you love her. The final days, weeks or months can be so painful to watch, and it makes it so isolating when those around you don’t understand. Our pets are our family too. You are lucky to have found one another.

  2. My cat just died this past Sunday 12-8-19 she had FIP and was only 18 months old. I am heartbroken over it and just wanted to know if she felt pain in her last breaths. I know she is better now in heaven but I still miss her like crazy.

    • Hi Michelle, I am so very sorry for the loss of your beloved cat. FIP is a terrible disease. I can’t say if she felt pain as each case is different. Again, I am really sorry.

  3. My cat was born in 1996. I’ve always fed her twice a day, now I feed her at least 3 or 4 times a day, and she licks it, but doesn’t actually eat much. She meowing increasingly, acts confused, and looks at the ceiling, she’ll lick her food and water, lay in her bed for awhile then repeat. She doesn’t seem to actually sleep. Her cries are getting more and more sad sounding. I guess I’m just looking for someone to tell me it’s ok to euthanize. It hurts hearing and seeing her like this

    • Hi Todd, I’m sorry about your cat, 23 is an amazing age for a cat. Cats can develop cognitive dysfunction in their old age. Have you spoken to a veterinarian? They can assess her and hopefully offer some guidance. Good luck, I know how painful it is to watch them grow old and have to consider euthanasia 🙁

  4. I lost my gorgeous 21 year old cat Alfie on the 8th of december, i’m still struggling now, can’t accept he’s gone and i won’t be seeing him again, hurts so much, not a day goes by when i think of him, can’t let go, missing him so much

    • Hi Wendy, I am so sorry for the loss of Alfie. I completely understand the hurt of losing a beloved cat. Be kind to yourself and take each day as it comes. We never forget those who have passed, but the pain does ease in time. RIP sweet boy.

  5. I am at this point where I need to make a decision. My cat has a cancerous tumor on her hip. She was diagnosed in December 2018 and at that time we were told that might be she would have couple of months. She is still alive but now she is obviously suffering. The tumor has cracked the skin, it looks painful! The cat is 19 years old. She had long and eventful life. I know that it’s the time but cannot think about loosing her! It’s especially difficult for my teenager child who was born when the cat was already a part of our family. It’s a terrible situation and I am just heartbroken 🙁

    • Hi Anastasia, I am so sorry to hear about your cat. It is a heartwrenching decision to make, but we must do what is best for them. Does she have much quality of life left?

  6. My beloved baby boy Louis, was diagnosed probably over a year ago with kidney failure.. and he was going in and out of pancreatitis, Sometime in April my vet told me it was getting worse. Started sub Q fluids and so forth, October they said stage five kidney failure. Increase the sub Q fluids, of course meds and pain meds. But that darn pancreatitis I guess because of the stress kept reoccurring quite frequently. About a month ago we found out he was anemic. Tried very hard to find something for that but all we could find was the human medication. Pancreatitis had gotten so bad because of the stress from the sub Q fluids that Monday we took him off of all sub Q fluids, now only giving him pain meds when needed and his other medication. As I sit here crying, such a brave boy. God bless him, He’s such a brave boy.. It’s so hard for me to let it go. I keep focusing on quality-of-life. But he follows me around and just meows. This decision is grueling. Still eating, drinking water, using the litter box. When will I know it’s time?

    • Your message brought tears to my eyes. It is so hard to know the right time, only you know your cat. All of my cats have eaten, drunk and used the litter tray right until the end. It’s those little things, does he still meet you at the door, try to kill flies on the window, how is he sleeping (I remember my beautiful Eliot was so restless in the last few days). I am very firm in the opinion that it is better to make this choice too early rather than too late.

  7. My cat Snow died on January 23 2020 just a few days ago. I got her almost 19 years ago. My heart is just broken. I miss her so very much. After a marriage separation she was such a comfort to me and now my sweet little girl is gone. I stayed by her side until she took her last breath. I miss her so much.it is so hard to cope with this.😢

    • Hi Rachel, I am so sorry for your loss of Snow. It is devastating to lose a beloved pet and it is natural to feel the way you do. At the moment, your emotions are so raw, but with time, the pain does subside. We never forget our pets, but over time, the pain will ease.

  8. I lost my Charlie (prince Charles) on 11/29/2019. I realized over this wknd he was just 4yrs shy of being with me for 1/2 my existence. He almost made it to 20yrs so very blessed. That’s like 90+ yr old man. He had kidney disease but was insisting on struggling with cat steps his last hr. Determined is the word that best described him. But he stopped eating/drinking night prior. I’m just relieved he went with me for Thanksgiving although I had no idea he would shut down the next day. I did as recommended.. called vet ahead to make arrangements. Hard sort of call… surreal really. Anyway, my cat was a problem cat. I don’t think anyone else would have kept him, but I loved his terrible ways. Very aggressive and mean to anyone but me. All vet visits were challenging and involved restraints. But on his final day, I hand carried him into vet.. he did not go in a carrier.. it was natural, peaceful, loving but gut wrenching for me. First time he did not want to attack a vet tech. He laid on his side while I embraced him. Forehead to forehead. I sang, gave him kisses and sang his favorite hymns. He gave me loads of head rubs as his final goodbye. Mind you, I lost my other kitty 18months prior so that loss was also with me in that moment. It was a hard but necessary process. Only thing that bugs me is I hate that he hissed when they gave him the sedative (which he probably didn’t need one as he was certainly weak). Today, My heart still breaks off and on. Quiet tears streaming right now as I write. I miss him so. And yet, I look across the room at his favorite chair looking at a new kitty who is snuggled there. Big moment for me, as I opted to adopt 2 male rescue cat brothers.. both 1 1/2 yrs old who only recently have come out of hiding. I’m not allowed to touch them yet, but this is a big moment.. to finally spend the evening near me.. but it’s not lost on me that he’s in Charlie’s chair. The cycle of pet life is very hard on us humans. Yet we open and reopen our hearts eternally to loving animals that need TLC. Xoxo to all our little pals. Those at the rainbow bridge and those still with us.

    • I’m so sorry Julie, it hurts so much when we lose them. I still think about two cats I lost when I was a child (a long time ago) and feel sad.
      I’m glad you have opened your home to two boys, it sounds like you are winning them over 🙂

  9. My first cat as an adult actually saved my life. She had been abused before I got her and I was the only one she bonded with. I was in a horribly abusive marriage and it seemed that suicide was the only way out. I had everything ready on the counter when she jumped up and I realized that if I died she would too. This made me angry and I used that anger to leave. She lived to be eighteen. When she started getting lost, losing weight and her gait was affected I knew it was time to let her go. I owed her a peaceful transition and I cried for days. Last week I had to use what I learned from her to let another one go. It still hurts but I know I’m crying for me and he is fine wherever he is. I don’t let the pain stop me from having other cats and today I introduced my great grandchildren to the cats I have now.

    • Thank you for your beautiful post, I am sorry for the loss of your cats but what a lovely story about how your cat saved your life and got you out of a terrible situation. You’re right, it is painful to lose them, but it’s also worth having them in our lives too. The pain does ease, although we never forget.

  10. Over three years ago an adult cat found refuge in our trailer outside. He ended up in our home and we nursed him to better health. He had evidently had a hard life. His ears were torn but healed and his front paw had a obvious healed injury. He was very frail. We didn’t know his age but he appeared to be a senior cat. The past six months his health declined and we had to say goodbye to him today. He was never a problem for us and got along very well with our other cats. His name was Little and I will miss him terribly.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss Colleen, thank you for sharing Little’s story. How beautiful that he found a loving home to spend in his final years. It’s hard when they’re gone, we do miss them so much.

  11. Sorry about all of your losses Just put my cat down he was 16 first time ever putting an animal down but didn’t want him to suffer to the end like my other animals who I nursed to the death mine also came from the florida hurricanes in 04 he had hyperthyroid condition that I treated the last 5 years then recently had 2 strokes a month apart he dwindled down to nothing but I did all I could to save him multiple trips to the vet and specialists and thousands of dollars if I could had saved him id had spent thousands more Hope to see him again one day

  12. Our cat, 20, is in her last days. No eating or drinking, her eyes are very sunken in and there is nothing left but the fur and bones. She was diagnosed with lymphoma several years ago and was treated with lasix and prednisone. Hubby wants her to die naturally but I am wondering if that is the right choice. She walks a few steps, late down and repeats this until she gets where she want to be. Breath is slow and shallow. How much longer can she go on like this? Will she just face away or will she have a seizure? With civic our decisions are also effected.

    • Hi Diane,
      I am so sorry to hear about your cat, it’s always a gutwrenching decision. As our pet’s carers, we have to make hard decisions at the end, but that is our responsibility. I can’t tell you or your husband what to do, personally, I would not let a cat die naturally. In human medicine, we have the benefit of drugs which can relieve pain, our cats can’t tell us how they are feeling. There comes a point where quality of life outweighs quantity. Having kept one cat alive for longer than we should, I made a promise that I would never do that again and would rather let them go a little too early than too late.

  13. weve had so many cats in our home that its not funny but nothing like this ..two years ago we had three cats .saraphinA which she was born the same time my youngest daughter which she was tenthen we had mittens she was like 5 years and lighting was also 5 yrs . so we were forced to move from our home because our landlord passed away and well its not easy to find a place in a short notice after 11 years living in the same house so we stared living in the hotels and after almost being broke we were forced to go to my moms place and she could never stand cats so it was hard we were forced to take our three pets back to the old house no one was living in the place and the people working there said it was okay so we took them opened the door to our old house and I have never felt so bad so hurt it felt like I was leaving my kids I cried with my 10 year old but what else could I do I promised my kids that I would do everything in my power to hurry and look for a place .Everyday we would go and feed them water and stuff the first day we went we called there name s and they jumped at us liked us I was crying nd I couldn’t do it every day by then it had been almost a month and I was stressed at my moms so our only enjoyin time was with our pets and everyday it was hard because they knew when it was time to go back they would follow us to the gate stick there heads out and just scream cry .I held them and we promised to find a place and they would be the first to go with us ,but things changed lighting he didn’t want nothing to do with us after that day when we would go he would come but didn’t let us pet or come near him its sad he would look at us like wharever and after one more week he would come eat after we were always leaving it was heartbreaking the way he was acting by then it had been a total of three months and finally we had found a place and were waiting for the okay that week we went back but only mittens was there as always waiting the last time I saw saraphina she was like ten feet from us saw us and gave us her back wed call her and she would be mad we told here we promise this week were coming for u guys but its like she didn’t belive us were even thinking of grabbing them and just keep them in our trucks .but we couldn’t do that it felt wrong now I wish I would have done that ..we got our apartment and same day we got the keys we went to pick up our cats but sadly only found mittens cause lightin would not let us catch him he looked so mad we tried for a whole week but nothing he ran he even saw us taking mittens but I guess he was done with us ,saraphina her was what hurt us more we never spotted her ever again .I couldn’t believe it it was painful to lose our pets ,now mitten is dyeing but we have two babys from her and I don’t know if I want more pets some people don’t understand it but pet owners do when u lose two members of the family its hard we went to bad moments loseing our home after 11 years loseing two pets and not cause they died but one of resentment towards us the other we never found out and now mittens I cant think how can a cat be so angry toward u that it rather let us leave then come home .thank u I needed to let this sadness out .. hope these two babys will continue with us for years ..

    • I’m so sorry, what a terrible situation. You did your absolute best for these cats and tried to help them. All of us here know the pain of losing a cat, it feels so raw, but the pain does fade in time, but we always remember them.

  14. I just lost my Lillie 3 weeks ago tomorrow. She was diagnosed with kidney disease last October. She was taking a medication for this and we had fluids if she needed them. It was very hard. It is hard to lose a pet, but when you have also been taking care of their medical needs it sometimes cuts a little deeper. I now have my Rocky who will be 17 this summer. He was diagnosed with bladder cancer last March 2019. The tumor was removed and he was put on medication that would slow the growth of any tumor that would try to grow back. I think it is back now, and the thought of losing another pet now seems impossible. I have talked to my vet who said he could remove the tumor again as he did well after the first surgery. Because of his age I am very apprehensive of making him go through that again. Not to mention the cost. And I hate having to look at it that way. But unfortunately it is a part of the decision, which really sucks. I pray if he is suffering that he would pass, as I am not sure I could make that decision. It is the hardest part of having a pet, is losing them. Sorry so long, just hurting. Thanks for listening.

    • I’m so sorry for the loss of Lillie and for Rocky’s diagnosis. It’s such a difficult balancing act between the quality of life and money. Not an easy decision to make, especially in a cat who is 17. You sound like a wonderful and loving cat lover. I wish you good luck with Rocky.

  15. my cat passed away earlier today found it in morning out in backyard on grass was very cold. but no signs of anything wrong with him, he was moving around just fine the day before he had dinner at 3 pm ate all of it. but we found it was little strange in night that he didnt come in to get cuddles at 8 pm but didnt really think to much about it. and more alarmed in morning when he didnt come for hes breakfast. when we found him he didnt have hes claws out, hes eyes little open, fur looked like it was licked or something. in random spots. but overall nothing looked like it was wrong. he didnt have any foam near mouth. he was little warm on side he was laying on but rest of hes body was really cold. only thing i can think of is he might be very old i i had him since 2006-2020. but he never really looked like he was old. other then he was getting skinny.

  16. Hi. My boy Tang died 2 days ago. Try to keep this short. He had no platelets at age 8- Spontaneous bleeding from eyes, mouth, butt. Got him on prednisilone and all was good til he developed phemphigus- scabs all over a few weeks ago. Vet put him on a few more meds, which may have hurt more than helped. Stopped eating, hind legs were lame. We had a big dog crate so we could get meds in him, and that’s where he was for 3 weeks. Blankets, food, water. We were with him when he died, rapid breathing, refused food by syringe. The vets had never seen a cat with the platelet issue, but they got us to 12 years. His twin is still looking for him

  17. I lost my previous boy trey yesterday it happened so fast I am still in shock and thinking he is still coming home. I keep thinking I have to feed him or give him his meds and expect him to be on the bed when I walk into the room. I had to check into either his buriel or cremation today and I couldn’t believe I was actually talking about his passing. I miss him so much and just feel an empty hole in my heart that will never heal.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss Janet. It’s always hard to lose a cat, but when it’s sudden it’s such a huge shock. You’ve had no time to prepare, and it doesn’t feel real, yet it is. It takes time, we never forget our precious pets who have left us.

  18. Just had to put Maya, my female Maine Coon darling down. 12 years old and very active until a week ago. She started losing control of her hind legs and could barely get around. She was diagnosed with Saddle Embolism. Apparently, the heart throws a clot and it lodges in the artery where it splits to the legs. Caught early, possibly a clot buster might help, but she was too far along. Used to climb a ladder on to the roof….then she had trouble even getting into her litter box. The night before, she lay on the bed, put her paw on my arm and cried… Never think they don’t talk to you. We agreed it was time. I’m so torn up…

    I rescued her….and she rescued me.

    • Hi Stephen, I’m so sorry for your loss of Maya. I know what you mean, they give us back so much more don’t they? I love that she put her paw on your arm. What a gorgeous thing to do.

  19. We just had our heart broken again. Goldie was an abandoned neighborhood black shorthair who fell into our love on a cold wintry night in February 3 years ago. Ever since we lost our English Bulldog brothers to heart failure, we have found a home and created homes for those cats less fortunate. It was worth the effort many times over. When our car broke down, I walked 4 miles to a colony with water and food in hand everyday for 2 months in the Summer. You make the effort because you make a promise to care. Everyone of our strays got adopted. That is why it was so hard to accept another little one into our home after Mama passed and Abbey was euthanised. You hear the cries of distress – how could we not provide food and shelter for one more?
    What I’m about to say pains me because while we are obviously in emotional pain, our Vet did not respond to our cries for help 7 days ago with all the resources and experience available to her – was an IV or a feeding tube too much trouble? She blamed me for not getting a full dose of Goldie’s thyroid medication administered. Goldie failed because I failed to make sure he ate every gram of medicated pate. If the meds failed to make your pet better, you must be at fault because administering medication to a cat in pill form is child’s play – don’t you agree? – just pry open their mouths and toss it in. We never dosed that way. We ground up her meds with a mortar and pestle and mixed them with her favorite pate. When his appetite declined and he rejected the prescription foods prescribed 3 weeks ago, we experimented and found the smells and flavors that would wet his appetite. He was always a good eater and loved his cold spring water – then he wasn’t.

    Above I’ve read about Saddle Embolism, sounds like a possible diagnosis. I’ve thought about what would cause Goldie’s declining health by scouring the Internet. My Vet’s comment when I suggested transdermal medication application on Friday – “where did you hear about that and you can kill your pet by going on the Internet”. Really – sharing knowledge with a Pet Owner is not recommended because it’s hard to bill. The last straw – “you can’t be with your Goldie when she is euthanized because of Covid19. You’re less than 8 feet away. I don’t have a need to explain to you what will transpire next. Leave the carrier on the stoop and step back. Don’t you know that family members have been dying without saying goodbye. A technician requested our debit card in the driveway. Our grief, sorrow, disappointment and anger can’t be measured but it is an emotional wound that time will never heal. Be cautious everyone, Vets can grow callous and lose their will to keep your pet alive. There’s always a healthier pet ready for a booster and basic maintenance in the waiting area. Why worry about the truly sick if they are easily replaced? When pets are healthy – every Vet gets a 5 Star review. When your best friend is sick and possibly dying – you need Dr. Gregory House not a Staff who bills prior to administering “end of life care”.

    I’ve read everything posted about our common grief. Thank you for sharing and caring. Petmeds emailed us a sympathy response to the news of Goldie’s passing. Will I see the same from our Vet when I go to my mailbox?

    Thank you “Cat World” for educating and caring. I wish we had found each other sooner. Our prayers go out to all those who have loved and lost.

  20. I wish there was more information about being unsure if the cat might recover, or if we should go ahead and euthanize. Mine is 14 years old, and although he has been having appetite and vomiting issues for a long time, he was still going about as if nothing was wrong. We tried to accommodate him by changing wet foods whenever one caused a problem, and we cleaned up the messes. But on July 9th he became more reluctant than normal to eat or drink, and stopped altogether a couple of days later. Now, after spending 3 nights (and $1700) at the vet’s office, I have him back home, but I just don’t know how long I should wait to see if he gets better. His decline happened so quickly, I feel like it was triggered by some unknown cause. I know we’re supposed evaluate whether or not he’s meeting us at the door, etc., but what if he isn’t doing those things because it’s possibly a temporary illness? How long do you wait before deciding?

    • I’m sorry to hear about your cat, how frustrating not knowing what it is. This particular article is about cats who are in the final stage of their life such as cancer or end stage kidney disease.

  21. Euthanize or not my 18 year old Eevee has stopped eating and drinking has lost a lot of weight called the vet they basic told me she was just suffering! feel lost.

    • I’m so sorry to hear about your cat Tammy. I always like to go by what the veterinarian is recommending as well as the cat’s quality of life. Having kept one cat alive for too long because I couldn’t let go, I now follow the rule that I’d rather let a cat go a week or two early than a day too late. My thoughts are with you at this difficult time.

  22. I adopted Happy 11 years ago when she was about a year old. Happy has been an obedient and affectionate cat all these years without giving me any problem.
    Recently in May 2020, she was diagnosed of squamous carcinoma cells under her lower jaw. As there is no cure for this cancer, she is on paillative care with strong pain management medication. The cancer tumour has spread in her mouth and pushing the tongue upwards which she is unable to close her mouth now with both sides of the tongue rolling onwards.
    On 22 July 2020, while feeding her half way, she vomited her feeding along with blood oozing from one of the tumour inside her mouth. I was panicked when I saw blood was gushing out from her mouth but fortunately it stopped. Have brought Happy to the clinic to check and according to the vet, one of the tumour inside her mouth has burst and the tumour has spread throughout her mouth and such incident will occur again. Vet also mentioned that the tumour is pushing her tongue upwards which may cause breathing problem soon. It is a very difficult decision to make whether to euthanize her coz I am very sad to loose her but on the other end she is suffering.
    Need your kind advise on such decision making. Thanks.

    • Hi Anne,

      I’m so sorry to hear about Happy and her cancer diagnosis. SCC can be an aggressive cancer. I always recommend following your vet’s guidelines but also asking yourself what quality of life Happy has. I know how hard it is to make the decision to say goodbye as it goes against everything we feel (not wanting to let them go), but it is at this time we’ve got to do the best for our cats. What will Happy miss out on if you say goodbye?

      We lost our cat to SCC in 2017 and it was devastating. It happened so fast. My thoughts are with you and Happy.

  23. We just had to put our boy Sage down two days ago. He was 20+. He was a Birman that had been a grand champion and the breeder from which we bought another cat (His older sister who passed 18 months ago) asked us if we would take him and care for him because he was done showing. He gave us such joy. He was full of love. Always cuddling with us and licking us and staring into our eyes. Quite a special cat indeed. Toward the end with his worsening kidney disease, he started switching his routine from day to night. Where he would roam endlessly at night in circles and almost bumping into things. His cognitive decline was dangerous as he almost fell going down a few stairs to his favorite screened-in-porch. We struggled with the decision because he still liked to sleep out on the porch this summer when he could. We wanted to give him one last summer. But, then losing pretty much all control of bladder and bowels and now sleeping in strange places, we knew it was time. We got to hold him after given the sedative before the final lethal injection and for the first time in a long time, you could tell that he was in peace. He looked in my eyes like he used to and then fell asleep and began snoring like he used to do. Then the final injection and he passed away peacefully. It was hard, but we are glad that we could give him his last summer and a peaceful departure. Still very sad, but it was the kindest thing we could do for his suffering.

    • Hi Bill,

      I’m so sorry for your loss of Sage. 20+ years is incredible, Sage and you must have been doing something right.

      Making the decision is such a difficult thing to do, we all struggle with it, but you did the right thing for Sage.

      Take care,

  24. My beautiful sweet kitty is 16 years old. She was diagnosed with kidney disease 2 years ago and changed her food at that time. Last year she had a malignant tumor removed from her mammary gland which was successful. Most recently (4 months ago) she was diagnosed with final stages of heart disease. My vet told me when she was diagnosed with heart disease she probably had 1-6 months to live. Of course, we have been giving her medicine but I am seeing such a change in her the past month and my heart is breaking. In the past few days she is hiding, weak, barely eating, has diarrhea and lethargic. I know in my heart that these are her final days. What is the most humane way to handle this?
    Is she in pain and should I allow her to pass in her home without euthanizing her or take her to my vet?
    I don’t want to wait to long yet I don’t want to do it to soon. I’ll miss her so…….

    • Hi Sara, I am so sorry to hear about your beautiful cat. It is such a devastating decision to have to make, but one we must to ensure they don’t suffer.

      I understand that it goes against everything to make this call, we want to protect them, but when a pet has little to no quality of life, it is time. I’ve found with mine, I just knew, once they stop being uniquely them (greeting me at the door, chasing flies, demanding breakfast), and they are hiding or spending all their time sleeping, I make the call.

      I know you will miss her, but ask yourself this…does she have any quality of life? What will she miss if she is not around tomorrow? We sign an invisible contract when we bring pets into our lives that at a point in the future, we have to make a tough decision which will rip our hearts out for their sake.

      My thoughts are with you during this difficult time. Please take care.

  25. This looks like an up to date place to ask and question and maybe get an answer. My cat, with CKD, started wobbling and I took him to an ER Hospital. They saw really high CKD numbers, and I admitted him. He had had not so bad numbers a few months ago, so they thought infection. He spent 5 days (stressful for him, he is quite “fractious”) getting IV fluids and antibiotics. His numbers leveled off at high end of State 3. Came home yesterday. Has not shown interest in getting in windows (though crouches at front door, in sunshine). I gave him subQ fluids this morning, he has not been drinking like crazy from faucet. Urination is not as frequent as before hospital admission. His eyes look good, he is always interested in eating, and his breath (which was the really bad CKD breath before) doesn’t have any odor at all now. Today he pooped at the edge of the litter box, having come all the way downstairs to do so. Never did this before. (Wondered if he is trying to tell me to let him go). He is clingy, and was before hospital. I know he doesn’t have lots of days left, but he is grooming, and weighs 15 lbs. He is not underweight (rather, heading to obese), his coat looks really good, his ears are not back, (he does hunch and lower himself very slowly – he is getting gabapentin, increased dose, and fluids) he meets my gaze, but he just is so sluggish and tired. This is second full day of him getting back from hospital. Have had thoughts about euthanizing him, but the above description keeps me from it. I did make him a coffin today, to get that over with. He hasn’t tried to wake me in the early morning like before. Question: Should I just give him a few more days to readjust after such a stressful experience? Am taking him for lab work to see his numbers in two days. I just don’t know what to do. His breathing is normal, he is grooming here beside me now. His hips are quite weak, but he is walking. The surprise of his perfect breath makes me think I need to slow down with the euthanasia thoughts.. Please give me your opinion. Thank you so much.

    • I’d leave him for a few days, he sounds like he’s doing okay. I lost a cat to CKD 10 years ago and in his final day, he was just hanging over his water bowl. Your boy doesn’t seem to be at that stage yet. I generally go by how they are in general, if they are eating and still interested in their surroundings. Good luck, it’s always hard to know when the right time is.

  26. In my life I have had 9 cats, Minnie, Tessie, Smokey, Tinker, Tabitha, Mousetrap, Oscar, Rosie and currently Sweetie. I’ve been through 8 end of life experiences with them and it has helped me to recognize that my 17 year old cat Sweetie that I’ve had since she was 3 weeks old and motherless, is at the end. I’m sure she could go on for a while longer but have made the gut wrenching decision to spare her from the agony of dying a long drawn out death. I know she’s nearing the end, she has a bad thyroid, liver disease and is now wetting in places where she shouldn’t be. 2 of my previous cats did this near the end of their lives and were diagnosed with their kidneys going bad. Sweetie has been the perfect cat in the house for17 years, I trained her and invested a lot of time in her from the start and as I always have said, there’s a beginning and an end for everything, it’s how the middle in between is spent that matters. I’ll cry over her for a very long time but consider myself very lucky that she chose me to be her human Mother.

    • What a wonderful and caring cat lover you are. I absolutely love what you said about ‘the beginning and the end’, that is so true. The end is so hard to face, but it is the reality of sharing our lives with pets. As hard as it is at the time, I try to make a conscious effort to remember the happy memories we shared during that all-important ‘middle part’ that you mentioned.

      Sending you and Sweetie my thoughts and thank you for your comments.

  27. Hi everyone, I’m sorry for your lost and those who still have your cats, please make the right decisions for them. As I read through all of your incredible stories about your cats, I couldn’t do anything else but cry for you and for me and my family. My family was blessed with two cats 14years ago after the lost of our cat Mia. My daughter was given Elfie to replace her because we had to put her down due to bladder cancer. Elfie came to our family as a gift from one of my daughter’s classmates and her family and we were in the process of adopting another to replace Mia, we adopted Benson so we ended up with two cats. My daughter was in the 6th Grade when all this occurred. Needless to say, they formed a bound with each other but then came the time that she had to leave home to go to college and Elfie got extremely attached to my son who suffered from kidney issues. Whenever my son would fall ill, Elfie was the bearer of the news. He’ll purr and purr until we got my son to the hospital. Thank God my son got his second kidney transplant after waiting for 4 years with treatments of hemodialysis this year. After 7 months of transplantation, we missed Elfie running up and down the stairs and even sitting in the windowsill. We taught that he had gotten out the house so I posted missing flyers around our neighborhood trying to see if anyone had seeing him. To our dismay, we started smelling an odor coming from the basement, which is where he would go everyday to sit on the windowsill but when we went to check, I couldn’t find him. Yesterday, I got up and decided to go down to tear my basement apart, and found our baby Elfie lying under the television stand all alone, stiffed, and maggots all around him. Because we weren’t able to find him in his usual place, we had no idea that he would have crawled under the Tv stand and gone missing for two weeks so we thought he had escape one morning while my son was bringing some items from the car. We checked around with neighbors and even got a phone call from one person who feeds strays in the neighborhood stating that she thought she had seeing Elfie. I’m worried for our Benson who got a glimpse of him when he was found. He seems to be extremely sad and doesn’t want to go downstairs to eat his food. Are there any signs that I should be looking for with him? He cried everyday since Elfie went missing but never went to the basement with no indication that he was there. Thank you all for sharing and if you have any advice for Benson‘s well-being… please share, Peace

  28. Hi, it’s not like it’s our first time having pets. But I really wanna ask if it’s possible that a domestic cat may fell ill after another cat dies inside the home?

    I mean, you see, we have 4 cats that was borned 6 months ago. One of them died last week, Wednesday. On the same day, the another cat fell sick out of nowhere, where in fact she was so hyper before the death of the first one. The next day, our third cat fell sick too out of nowhere, where in fact he’s been pretty hyper too the past days. The 4th one is fine, but you can sense him kinda worried for his siblings.

    We’ve been searching around the net, looking for possible answers and possible cure for them, but we just can’t find any. Tried to contact a vet and they only told us to let them take anti-biotics or medicines that is required and prescribed. Honestly, it breaks our hearts knowing the fact that we might not be able to do anything again if they’d be having the same fate as the first one. I’m trying to reach out to anyone, vet or not, that may help us with this. Please.

  29. I had to put my most wonderful cat, Hudson, down yesterday morning. He was an adult rescue. I had him for 12 years. I’m guessing his age was between 15-20 years old. Just a joy everyday to have. He started slowing down a few months ago, began to throw up a few times a week, and was losing weight. His blood counts were a bit high, but the Dr. said they were not high enough to warrant any meds. He did say that due to elevated numbers I could have him do an MRI on his kidneys and liver. But he also told me that Hudson was just an old cat and if he found something, it might not be in the cat’s best interest to do anything. I decided not to put Hudson through anything more. I kept an eye on him, and as long as he was not in pain I would let nature take its course.

    A side note, about 6 years ago Hudson was in the sunroom and found 3 stray kittens by the window. They were clearly feral, just barely weened. They took to Hudson and slowly the three became outside/ sunroom cats. They and Hudson became inseparable. As the weeks past two of the kittens disappeared, so I turned the remaining one, ANDY, into an inside cat. He and Hudson have been so close over the past 6 years. And it has been a joy to have both of them, and to watch how two cats could how each other so much love.

    Yesterday morning I woke up to Hudson laying on his side, eyes wide open, in convulsions. I’ve had other cats in my life, so I knew that his body was shutting down, convulsions can be a symptom that death was imminent. His breathing became labored. He arched his head back. His mouth opened.
    He cried out in a guttural howl. But showed no sign of recognition. His legs were stiff. I stroked his head for an hour. Andy actually came by and sat with us for a while. I doubt he understood what was going on other than his best bud was not responsive. Then picked Hudson up and put him in his carrier. His legs remained stiff as I laid him down on packed towels, I knew my beautiful cat was almost gone. I brought him to the vet. His breathing was labored and he was not responsive other than a guttural howl from time to time. It was time to put him out of his suffering.

    I cried most of yesterday, could barely make it out of the Vet’s office without crying. Andy is having a hard time, he misses his buddy, Hudson is all he’s known since he was a baby. They spent all their time together, slept together, ate together, played together. So I give Andy a lot of extra time. We both needed that extra time together.

    A strange note, I put Hudson’s pic on my facebook page. I have a very large screen. Andy was on my lap. I pulled up the pic. Andy saw it. His head rose, He seemed confused, but he recognized Hudson. He stepped off my lap and cautiously walked to the screen. He sat down and looked at it for a moment, took a few sniffs, then turned and left. I knew he recognized Hudson, but cat’s use their sense of smell, and he smelled nothing. But I thought how wonderful that for a moment, he saw his buddy was back. I didn’t know cat’s had that kind of ability to recognize pictures. I’d say it was wishful thinking, but that wouldn’t explain Andy’s actions. So I’m sticking with he recognized a pic of his friend.

    Me and Andy really miss Hudson, he was one amazing cat. And thank you for letting me release some pain here.

    • I’m so sorry for your loss. Hudson sounds like an amazing cat. It’s nice to know that you and Andy have each other for comfort during this difficult time. Thank you for sharing a little of Hudson with us. Take care.

  30. I have a 16 year old cat, Whitie .She has mammory gland cancer . She doesn’t appear to be in pain. She’s eating well. The tumor on her gland is 1-2 inches across.. Smells bad and leaks a nd bleeds at times. Nd has some neurotic tissue in center. I’m fighting with myself . Is it time to put her to sleep? She is very loving nd sleeps on top of me every night. This is killing me. I had to put to sleep 17 year old cat , jemima last year, I still cry over her.what shall I do?


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