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My Cat Is Dying – How Long Will It Take For A Cat To Die?

My Cat Is Dying – How Long Will It Take For A Cat To Die?

A truly heartbreaking moment is when a pet owner needs to face that their beloved cat is dying. Cat owners and their cats truly connect over the years, and when cats go through the dying process, whether it is a sick or old cat, it is hard and heart-wrenching.

When that time comes, and you’re sure that you cannot help it and that you’re sure like: My cat is dying, how long will it take for my cat to die, try your best to be with your cat in her final days, ease her pain and start preparing yourself for the death of your cat.

I know this truly hurts, but you’ll get through it; time heals everything.

How Long Will It Take For A Cat To Die?

White Cat lying on bed

Dying happens in two stages, the pre-active dying stage and the active dying stage. When this time comes, you need to be aware of your cat’s quality of life.

The dying phase is different from cat to the cat because it depends if the elderly cat is dying from old age or if a cat has some severe disease. Let’s see the phases in detail.

Pre-Active Dying Phase

On average, the pre-active dying phase lasts three weeks; however, it can last a couple of days, a few weeks, or several months. During this phase, the body starts to change, and your cat has some good and some bad days.

This phase is the phase you can actually do something before your cat enters the active dying phase. As soon as you notice that your cat behaves very differently, make an appointment with the vet. But, remember, if you have a senior cat, it could be a sign that your cat has lived the most of it, and soon she’ll go.

Let’s see the signs your cat is in the pre-active dying phase of your cat.

RELATED: How Often Do You Take A Cat To The Vet – How Much Is Enough?

Lack Of Grooming

The one symptom of a dying cat is when she’s not grooming herself as she used to. Did you notice that your cat is not cleaning and licking her fur when she’s sick or not feeling well? Well, they don’t have the energy and will to keep their fur clean, soft, and fluffy.

As the cat feels worse and worse, its fur will look matted and oily since the cat is not cleaning it. You’ll notice that there is not much dirt and oil in their fur when you wipe it with allergen-friendly wipes because you’re basically cleaning it, but that’s something you need to watch out for. When this starts to happen, go for a vet check-up.

It can mean that your cat is sick, and that could be the reason for lack of grooming, but other times it is a symptom of your cat dying.

Loss Of Appetite

Probably all cat owners experience cat happiness when they’re carrying food to the bowl, but now that is not the case. Why? When a cat is dying, she is not drinking and eating as before, and she’s not excited about the treats and meals, no matter that you’re bringing her favorites. This can be a massive sign that your cat will soon leave you.

The cause of the loss of appetite could be that the eating gets painful since they’ve been hurt by swallowing. As the food doesn’t process food as it used to before, nausea can appear, and they can even regurgitate some of their food. Your cat won’t have the desire to drink water which will result in your cat being highly dehydrated.

Without the appetite, your cat is losing weight, and you can start to see your cat’s bones which can be hard to watch. If your cat is dying, there is no way that your cat will gain weight.

If you notice a loss of appetite, make sure to take your cat to the vet as they can discover what is happening with your cat and can give medications to better up your cat’s health, even if it is not for the long run.

See Also: 5 Reasons Why Is Your Dying Cat Drinking Lots Of Water

Weight Loss

sick orange and white cat

As the cat is closer to dying, she will start to lose weight. Weight loss is usually drastic but can happen slowly during the dying phase. A visit to the vet is always good, so you can understand what is happening with your cat.

Weight loss can signify lots of diseases, and it will leave the cat’s skin sad and flappy, and dehydrated. That’s why it is important to see the vet in order to rule out dying or diseases.


Cat, while aging, will lose the mobility and muscular control they had when they were younger or healthier. This can lead to a cat having difficulties doing something they’ve done so easily in the past. They can suffer from joint pain, which leads them to gravity-defying leaps that are too hurtful.

You can see your cat struggling to climb the stairs, jumping on or off the sofa, bed, or chairs to cuddle with you, or entering the litter box. That could easily lead to messes in the house because they can lose the ability to do the bathroom even if they know they should.


Cats that don’t have energy are probably facing the end of their life. Their will to play is not there, they seek places that are quiet so they can sleep and not wake for long periods of time, and they’ll lose the excitement they had about certain things, playtime treats, toys, and so on.

Cats might even hide more and seek places they’ve never been before because they want privacy; they want to be alone because they don’t have the energy to defend themselves if danger approaches. This is connected to their natural instinct, and if your cat is constantly hiding and doesn’t want to come out, then you need to find a way to help them.

Active Dying Phase

sick cat lying on floor

Even after you did all you could for your cat, if the cat is dying, the active dying phase is inevitable, and it can last for three days. If your vet visit ends up with the fact that your sick cat is actually dying, and you choose to bring your cat home to live the rest of her life with you, bear in mind that you should always choose euthanasia in order for your cat to suffer less.

However, if you choose to be with your cat in her final moments, you need to know the symptoms of the approaching death so you can be with her as much as possible while they pass away.

Bear in mind that this could be a very traumatic experience for you and your dying cat, as well as practically anyone who has a connection with a pet cat. The cat, in these final moments, will feel confused, alone, and scared. The end of the cat’s life can be really painful to witness, so you need to know what to expect.

A few things will happen:

A control over urinating or lack of urination: Incontinence of urinary and fecal movements and other gastrointestinal issues become really apparent as the cat dies.

RELATED: Cat Urine Color Chart: Everything You Need To Know And More

Bradycardia: the state where a cat’s heartbeat becomes irregular and slow without a particular reason. Cat’s different heart rate is definitely a sign that a cat is dying, as the heart and body aren’t functioning properly.

Cat’s overall body temperature is colder: You can notice that paws and other extremities are highly cold. Why is this happening? Because there has been decreasing in blood circulation.

Cat has difficulty breathing: Cat experiences deep panting, which is a clear sign that cat is dying.

Terminal respiratory secretions: Saliva builds up in the back of the cat’s throat. That will manifest in rattling and gurgling noises as the cat struggles to function and swallow properly.

How To Take Care Of Your Dying Cat

sick cat lying on blanket

If you have decided that you want to spend your cat’s final moments with her, then your aim is to maximize the cat’s comfort and minimize the suffering, which is called end-of-life care or palliative care. Your cat is not a feral cat, and surely she doesn’t want to be alone.

During this time, you need to consult with the vet, who will prepare the medications to ease suffering and discomfort. This you should consider:

1. Pain Relief

Cats are known to be excellent hiders of pain and discomfort, and you, as your cat caregiver, need to recognize that your cat is in pain. Look for these signs:

• Aggression or personality shifts

• Stiffness or hunched-over appearance

• Whitdrawal and hiding

Loss of appetite

This is what the vet can prescribe for the pain:

A transdermal patch that will ease pain relief


Oral tablets

Keep in mind that you should never ever give human painkillers to your cat!

2. Fluid Support

cat drinking from bowl

Dehydration is expected since the cat has no will to drink water, and it is often a side effect of many life-ending diseases. For example, kidney disease causes the kidneys to concentrate urine.

How to notice that your cat is dehydrated? You can see dull eyes, tacky gums, and poor skin tenting. You can check for signs if you lift the skin at the back of the neck to observe how fast it will go back.

You can give your cat fluids by mouth with a syringe.

3. Nutritional Support

Loss of appetite, as we mentioned, is a common side-effect of a cat that is struggling and in pain. So the nutrition diet of a cat who is soon to die is different from an adult cat that is entirely healthy.

In order to slow down the progress of the condition, your cat needs to receive appropriate nutrients and prescription diets. When you consult with your vet, you will be given a prescription for a high-nutrition food, and you can add delicious treats to your cat’s food as tuna for example.

If you cannot manage to feed your cat with proper nutrients, consult with the veterinarian, who can recommend a high-calorie gel or appetite stimulants or insert a feeding tube if nothing else works out. You can also try syringe or hand feeding with warmed food like soft canned food or cooked chicken breast.

At the cat’s end of life, expect that the cat won’t eat or drink at all, as this is normal since the cat’s body is slowly shutting down. Don’t force it, as the ill cat already has enough problems and pain.

4. Symptom Control

sick cat lying by window

The gravely ill cat will have a lot of symptoms like nausea, vomiting, seizures, discomfort, and pain. It is recommended that you consult the vet about the possible medications for making your ill cat comfortable.

RELATED: The Most Effective Home Remedies For Cat Vomiting

5. Cleaning Up After The Cat

Urinary and fecal incontinence are usual things when a cat comes to the end of its life. You’ll need to check the cat’s wetness and clean it immediately to prevent fecal or urine scalding. It is horrible for everyone to lie down in their mess, especially cats that spend most of their life cleaning themselves.

If the mess happens, clean the area with a warm, damp cloth or some baby wipe that is unscented in order to avoid scalding, which can cause more pain and infections.

It is recommended that you place plastic sheeting between the blanket and the bed because it will prevent the bed to become soiled.

6. Make Physical Comfort And Adjustments

You have to prepare a special area for your cat. It should be close to you, but not that that is too much traffic. Your bedroom is a perfect spot; there should be her bed, litter trays, water, and food bowls, possibly as close to her as possible.

If the cat has energy for the litter box, put her to do the job, then place her back in the bed. Don’t expect your cat in the final stages of life to walk on stairs or travel for water, food, or toilet.

7. Provide Emotional Support

Emotional support is crucial. Even though each cat has its own personality, there are cats that want to be alone, while others wish for support and comfort from the owner. Whichever option she chooses, make sure to respect it.

Watch the cat who wants to be alone but don’t bother her. If a cat wants to be near human interaction in the end, keep it that way; try to pet her gently and talk to her.

When Is The Right Time To Say Goodbye?

Cat Sleeping in lap

I am aware, and I understand that this is not something a cat owner wants to face, but it is a must. Many questions are going through your head, is it too early or too late, did you try everything you could, did you let down your cat?

This is a normal thing, emotions come, and you don’t need to hide them. It is a big decision to decide to end the life of your dear feline, that is, your family member, practically; however, it is the best thing you can give your cat in her final moments.

Remember that it is not a letdown if you choose to euthanize your cat; you give her a peaceful and easy death.

Most pet owners know and feel when it’s time for their cat to pass away, but facing that feeling is truly hard. Here are a few questions you can ask to understand if you’re making the right decision.

Speak to your cat, especially if it is something you usually do. Take your cat if she’s not in much pain and find her favorite spot and cuddle and talk with her. She might tell you that it is okay if you let her pass away.

Observe if your cat enjoys the things she usually does, does she purr while you pet her, whether is there excitement when you give her food or treats, does she play with her toys, does she run or climbs as usual?

Keeping track of your cat’s bad days and good days is important. Bad days that happen occasionally are a normal part of life; however, you need to face the truth and know that there will be times when your cat has more bad days and more pain and discomfort.

Make sure to talk about your feelings with your family and friends. It is hard, and you are allowed to feel a certain way. Slowly start to face that your cat’s life is coming to an end.


vet checking out sick cat

As we already said, it can be a hard decision, but if your cat has a terminal illness, it is probably the option you’ll need to consider.

If your cat is experiencing huge pain and discomfort, you should consider euthanasia. It is really cruel to keep your cat alive since she only feels pain, and it is better to let them move on. If you let your cat die naturally, you’ll only make their pain days longer, and this is the subject you should definitely talk about with the vet.

If you understand that your cat is in such pain and you chose to euthanize it, but you don’t have the money to do it, talk to your veterinarian so he can recommend some payment plans, many euthanasia options are not so expensive, and it is better for your cat and for your mental health.

A few different places can offer euthanasia for low prices, and it is always best to consider your cat’s happiness than prolonging their pain and suffering. Your vet can also give you information about burial services and pet cremation.

What Are The Stages Of Grief For A Cat Owner?

cute grey Cat sleeping on owner's lap

I think that the first stage of grief is when you learn that your cat has a terminal illness and that she’s going to die unless it is a sudden death.

Many cat owners are spending their cat’s last days with them, which can last for weeks or months and that alone is physically and emotionally draining and heart-wrenching.

To grieve the loss of your beloved cat is completely normal, and you shouldn’t avoid it. The cat has been an important part of your life, and you two have done so many fun things together. It is normal that you’ll miss her, but remember that you had the opportunity to be in that’ cat’s life and make it better.

Feel free to take a day off from work, and talk with your friends and family about what you’re feeling at the moment. If you have other cats or pets, make sure not to avoid them and care for them, as that can be good for you.

We know that no pet will ever replace that particular cat, but each and every one of your pets can bring into your life something good and different. Search for videos and photos of your cutie feline to remember her in her best days.

In Conclusion

cute Tabby Cat sleeping

It started as: My cat is dying; how long will it take for my cat to die, and it ended with grief, maybe even with shock. It is a completely normal process. Every person has their own way of grieving, and it is something that a cat owner who lost a pet shouldn’t be afraid of.

Cat’s death is difficult; talking from a personal experience, I cried so much when I lost my cat; I couldn’t believe I won’t have the chance to cuddle with her again, to play with her and see her run and do lots of fun things, but it what it is. I needed to understand that I couldn’t change anything and that I needed to accept it. After some time in my life came a new kitten who healed all my wounds. You’ll also be okay.

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