What Is the Dying Behavior of Cats?

Cats seem to have a sense about when they don't have much time left and most will exhibit end-of-life symptoms. These signs can be hard to spot until it's very close to the end, or they may be very noticeable. Either way, make sure your pet stays comfortable at all times and if possible, have a vet nearby to help you with the cremation or burial.

Eating & Drinking

Many cats stop eating or drinking before they pass away. Even favourite treats won't tempt them anymore. Be aware, though, that just because a cat doesn't have an appetite, doesn't mean it's dying. Sometimes a cat is just not hungry. However, if a day or more goes by without your pet eating anything at all, it may be time to take it to the vet.


A dying cat may seek solitude, or it may want to be very close to someone it is attached to. This is a comfort mechanism and one that can be hard to spot, especially if the cat usually follows a particular person around. Be on the lookout for an abnormally 'clingy' cat, or a cat that can't be found at all if that is not its usual behaviour.


Some cats experience seizures before they pass on. These can last just a few minutes or several hours, depending on the cat and the circumstances. Seizures are caused by the nerves and muscles shutting down in the body as it goes through the stages of death. Make sure that everyone leaves the animal alone when these seizures take place to avoid getting bitten or scratched as the cat may become very scared and lash out. If a cat has been having seizures for several hours, take it to a vet. It may be easier on the cat, as well as the owners, to have it put to sleep.


Many cats will not have the energy to keep up with grooming and will begin to look unkempt and dishevelled. You may be able to brush out your pet's fur to make it more comfortable and clean as it goes through the end-of-life process.


You may begin to hear some gurgling sounds as the cat's respiratory system shuts down. There may also be long pauses between intakes of breath. Some cats may start wheezing hours or even days before they actually pass on. This can be a sign that a cat's body is starting to shut itself off.

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About the Author

Krysha Thayer has been an avid online writer since 2007. She writes about many topics, including health, education, careers and gardening. Thayer is currently attending Southern New Hampshire University, pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in business studies with a concentration in human resource management.