Signs Of A Cat Dying From Old Age

Dying of old age is a very painful event. For the elderly cat, it means their days are mostly numbered. Sometimes it can be easy to mistake signs of death as signs of aging. This post will help you determine if it is time for your senior cat to say goodbye. Let’s talk about the various signs for dying cat and whether or not your old kitty is in that end stage and needs your help to go peacefully.

It can be hard to deal with the death of a family pet. When my cat died, I felt like there should have been obvious signs beforehand. Feeding him less, sleeping more, and spending less time outside are all common but can be difficult to notice.

Signs of a Cat Dying From Old Age

  1. Unusual behavior, such as hiding or aggressive behavior around other cats and humans, can be a sign that your cat is dying from old age.
  2. Your cat’s appetite will decrease significantly, and you may notice them drinking more water than usual. This is because their kidneys are failing and they are trying to keep their body hydrated.
  3. You may notice your cat slowing down and walking with a limp or swaying back and forth when they walk. This is due to the deterioration of their muscles from aging and lack of use over time.
  4. The litter box may have an unfamiliar odor coming from it due to changes in diet brought on by illness or old age; this could be caused by dehydration or eating foods that don’t agree with them anymore (e.g., too much protein).

Signs of a cat dying from old age are often very difficult to identify. Cats are known for being exceptionally healthy and full of life, so when they start to show signs of aging or illness, it can be difficult to identify. Here are some signs that your cat may be dying:

  • The change in their personality is noticeable. This can include irritability, lethargy and even aggression towards you or other members of the household.
  • Your cat has trouble moving around as they did before (they may get stuck in corners or fall down stairs).
  • Their ability to eat has deteriorated – they might not be interested in food anymore or they might have trouble chewing and swallowing properly.
  • They are having more frequent accidents inside your home than usual (nausea can cause this).

Signs Of A Cat Dying From Old Age

Becoming familiar with the signs your cat is dying can help you make an ill or older pet more comfortable at the end of her life. When a cat is too sick to survive and recover, the signs she is actively dying can sometimes be very subtle. Recognizing them is an essential part of caring for your pet.

Signs a Cat Is Dying

According to the page, many medical signs indicate a cat is near death. The exact symptoms a cat display depends on which illness he has. However, there are some basic symptoms all cats experience as their bodies begin to shut down.

Lowered Heart Rate

Depending on its age and what it’s doing, the average cat’s heart beats 140 to 220 beats per minute. As the cat’s heart weakens, and the animal is closer to dying, the heart rate drops dramatically to just a fraction of its normal rate. Near the end, there are longer, and longer pauses between each beat and the pattern becomes very irregular until the heart stops.

Veterinarian examining a kitten

Lowered Respiration

A healthy cat takes an average of 20 to 30 breaths per minute. As the heart weakens, it’s no longer able to pump the lungs efficiently. This means less oxygen is available in the bloodstream. Initially, your cat will experience rapid, labored breathing, but as further organ failure occurs, respiration weakens and slows. Near the end, breaths are fewer and farther between until the animal is finally too weak to go on and stops breathing altogether. According to Home Pet Euthanasia of Southern California, you might also see agonal breathing. These breaths look like sudden spasms as your cat passes away. By the time agonal breathing occurs, the heart has often stopped, and your pet will no longer be conscious.

Drop in Body Temperature

As a cat’s organs begin to fail, the body also cools, especially the extremities. A cat typically feels extra warm when you touch him because his average temperature runs between 100.0 and 102.5 degrees F and a person’s average temperature is approximately 98.6 F. Once the cat’s temperature reaches 98 F or lower, you can feel his temperature is lower just by resting your hand on him.


It’s not unusual for cats to go through periods where they won’t eat when there’s a prolonged illness involved. Dietary allergies can also play a role in poor appetite. Disinterest in food is a sign your cat needs help, not necessarily a sign your cat is dying; rule out underlying and treatable health disorders and dietary allergies.

However, nearly all cats will stop eating and drinking when death is imminent. The cat will begin to look wasted due to lack of nutrition. Lack of fluids leads to dehydration. According to Henry Schein Animal Health, you’ll notice this by the lack of elasticity in the skin, a sunken look to the eyes, and the darker color and lower output of urine.

Really sick cat walking on the street

Foul Odor

For several types of feline medical conditions, toxins begin building up in the bloodstream. Home to Heaven Hospice and Euthanasia Service reports the cat’s breath and body begin to smell bad as a result. The longer the condition progresses, the worse the odor becomes.


As the body prepares to shut down, the muscles begin to relax to the point where the cat no longer has any control over its eliminations. The muscles that control the bladder and sphincter relax, and the cat has involuntary movements. This is likely to happen soon after the cat passes away.

Choosing Euthanasia for a Dying Cat

If your cat is exhibiting signs of being near death, you may want to consider talking to your vet about euthanasia. This can be the more humane choice in cases where there is significant pain and suffering involved.

If you choose to put your pet to sleep, your vet will give him an injection that will slow his heart to a stop. This takes only seconds and is not a painful procedure. You will usually be given the opportunity to stay with your cat throughout the process if you wish. Euthanasia can put an end to a pet’s suffering as well as shorten the emotional distress you feel. Some areas may even offer a house-call euthanasia service.

Domestic cat lying on veterinary table while her owner standing close and holding her

Saying Goodbye Is Never Easy

Watching your cat die can be upsetting and disheartening. By understanding and coming to terms with the dying process, you can make decisions based on what is best for your pet rather than your emotions. It’s natural to feel a profound sense of loss after your cat’s death, so be sure to give yourself plenty of time to grieve. Someday the grief will ease, and you may decide it’s time to bring a new cat into your life.

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