We love our cats’ imperious stares and playful paw bops, not to mention their deep throaty purrs. But, sooner or later, we will have to say goodbye, and this can frequently catch us off guard because cats are skilled at masking their suffering.

While it is painful to see your cat suffer in any manner, keeping an eye out for these signals can help you recognize when your cat needs extra attention and care, as well as identify a problem early enough to improve her quality of life.

Signs That Your Cat Is Dying

Cats are infamous for concealing injuries and diseases. This is an excellent survival strategy in the wild, as revealing any evidence of vulnerability makes a cat a potential candidate for predators and competition. However, when it comes to our pet cats, this might be a hardship for us loving caregivers who want to support our felines through any sickness or suffering. We must keep a close eye on our cats and pay attention to minor changes that indicate anything is wrong.

Many of the warning signals that your cat is reaching the end of its life are also symptoms of common cat ailments such as hyperthyroidism, diabetes mellitus, chronic kidney disease, and cancer. When you suspect that something is wrong with your cat, the first thing you should do is have them inspected by a veterinarian. With the checkup and any tests, your vet will be able to tell you whether your cat has a treatable condition or if the prognosis is bleaker.

Losing Weight Drastically

Weight loss in senior cats is fairly common. This is somewhat due to normal muscle loss that comes with aging: as your cat gets older, its body becomes less efficient at processing and producing protein, resulting in muscle loss. Even if your cat eats well, they may still lose weight.

The weight loss may become drastic over time. Some elderly or sick cats can become exceedingly thin, with their bones protruding beneath their skin. Cachexia is a type of excessive weight loss induced by cancer in which the rapidly proliferating cancer cells require so much energy that the body tears down its fat reserves and muscle for fuel. Weight loss is also common in cats with hyperthyroidism and chronic renal disease.

Always Hiding

Hiding is a warning indicator of disease in cats, but it is hard to classify. Normally, cats hide a lot. Excessive hiding, hiding in unfamiliar settings, and refusing to come out even for positive routines like mealtimes are all red flags.

Refusing to Eat

When your cat is sick, they may refuse to eat. Some drugs can also damage your cat’s ability to taste and smell, causing them to become less interested in eating. Warm up their meal or add a small quantity of tuna juice to make it smell better and help them want to eat it.

Your veterinarian can also prescribe drugs to stimulate your cat to eat. An anti-emetic like Cerenia can aid with nausea, while appetite stimulants like mirtazapine can improve your cat’s feeling of hunger.

It may be impossible to convince your cat to eat at all as they approach death.

Not Drinking

Sick cats are also less likely to drink, resulting in dehydration. If your cat still eats, you can enhance their liquid consumption by giving her canned food or mixing water with their food. You might be able to feed them water using an oral syringe or a squirt bottle in some, but do so with caution. Squirt a bit of water into your cat’s mouth at a time, aiming the muzzle downward. Forcing them to consume too much water at once can induce choking and possibly aspiration pneumonia when the water travels down their throat and into their lungs.


As your cat nears the end of their life they will probably be less active. They will begin to sleep more and more and may become weak when awake. Some cats may also appear melancholic and sedentary.

Reduced Movements

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Senior cats frequently have limited mobility caused by muscle loss, arthritis, or other health issues. Weakness is typically progressive, beginning with something as simple as being unable to leap up onto the kitchen counter and progressing to difficulties climbing stairs and being unable to enter and exit a tall litter box.

Make sure your cat has easy access to everything they require. Make ramps or stepping stones available so they may safely access favorite perches or resting spots. 

Changing Behavior

Cats can demonstrate a wide range of behavioral changes when they are dying. The specific changes will differ from cat to cat, but what is important is that their behavior has changed.

Some cats will become more withdrawn, irritated, and grumpy (which might be caused by pain or cognitive dysfunction). Other cats become friendlier and needier, always wanting to be near you.

Cognitive impairment in cats is comparable to dementia in humans. These cats may be louder and wander the house late at night. They may also appear perplexed or disoriented in familiar surroundings. Your cat may go missing for long periods, skip meals, or have irregular sleeping patterns.

Responds Poorly to Treatments

Many of the illnesses that affect older cats can be managed with drugs and other treatments. But over time, your cat may eventually require higher drug doses or stop responding to medication. This could indicate that their body is deteriorating and can no longer take their meds as prescribed.

Poor Temperature Regulation

Senior cats are more vulnerable to heat and cold than healthy adult cats because they have difficulty regulating their body temperature. Even when given a warm bed and surroundings, the body temperature of cats on the verge of death frequently drops. The limbs of your cat may feel cold to touch.

Untidy Appearance

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When cats are in pain, they often stop grooming themselves. This results in an oily, unkempt coat. Mats can form on the hindquarters, underside, and behind the ears of long-haired cats. They may also develop excessive dandruff and flaky skin.

Grooming your cat with a soft brush will help them feel better if they tolerate it.

Unusual Odor

Your cat may develop an odd body odor as they near the end of their life. This is related to tissue disintegration and toxin buildup in the body. The precise odor varies based on the underlying issue. Cats suffering from diabetic ketoacidosis may have a sickly-sweet odor, whereas cats suffering from kidney failure may have ammonia-smelling breath.

Irregular Breathing

The muscles and nerves that govern your cat’s lungs are susceptible to deterioration as he or she gets older. A dying cat’s breathing pattern may be irregular, with her respiratory rate fluctuating. They might even stop breathing for a few moments.

Open-mouth breathing, straining her head and neck straight out from her body, and forceful abdomen motions as she breaths are all indications of difficulty breathing. If your cat shows any of these signs, she is having trouble getting oxygen into her body. This is a critical situation.


Seizures can be triggered by a variety of factors, including disease-related metabolic issues or brain disorders. Seizures that continue longer than 10 minutes or that occur in clusters are considered emergencies. Medications could help stabilize your cat and prevent seizures, but in some cases, may not respond to therapy, depending on the cause. 

Lost Interest in Favorite Things

Your cat’s enthusiasm for things and activities she once enjoyed will wane as her health deteriorates. They may refuse to play with their toys, turn down favorite goodies, and even cease purring when rubbed. Your cat’s disinterest in the world around them, as well as their lack of excitement for activities they used to enjoy, are signals that they are ready to go.

Saying Goodbye to Your Cat

When it’s time, your cat may not be responding to you as well as it once has. They may simply be telling you that it’s time to say goodbye for the first time in their life.

With a lot of assistance and planning, you can create a calm, dignified, and meaningful farewell for your cat. Your pet’s gravestone is a great way to mark the passing of your beloved feline. This personalized stone can be a lasting memento that will help you remember your pet and your pet’s special accomplishments. Contact Rainbow Bridge Pet Memorial Stones in Idaho today to customize a pet gravestone for your beloved cat.