6 Ways To Comfort a Dying Cat

Thinking about life without my cat isn’t something I like to do. She brings so much joy and love into our lives, that it makes me almost nauseous to think that someday she too will grow old and pass away.

However, responsible pet owners must realize that illness and even death is just as inevitable for our felines friends as it is for the human ones. To make our furry loved ones as comfortable as possible, it’s necessary to know the signs of death, and how to deal with them in a way that’s compassionate and medically-sound.

If you’ve got a young cat, rest assured that you probably won’t need to implement any of these ideas for a long while. The notion that 1 cat year is equivalent to 7 human years is a myth. It’s true that cats age faster when they’re younger, but this slows down as they get older. Now that more cats are “indoor only,” it’s not uncommon for some cats to live to be 18 or 19 years old. Still, this means it’s likely your cat will become elderly and pass on long before you do. If you can’t bring yourself to euthanize your cat when the time comes (and there are medical reasons why you might), keep these tips in mind.

6 Ways To Make A Dying Cat More Comfortable

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1. Pay attention to the signs. Cats can’t tell us when something hurts or when they’re feeling sick. So it’s up to us to pay attention to the clues in their behavior. Loss of appetite and rapid weight loss, lethargy and abnormal lack of interaction, obvious signs of discomfort or crying when touched, urinary and/or fecal incontinence, and breathing difficulties are all signals that something is wrong. A trip to the vet is in order.

2. Consider pain medication. If the ailment isn’t something that can be treated, our job is to make the cat as comfortable as possible. In many cases, this means administering pain medication. Sometimes, this can provide relief and extend the cat’s life. However, if you can’t afford meds or they don’t seem to work, euthanasia must be considered. After all the love your cat has given, why prolong her suffering to ease your own?

3. Emphasize hydration. Since it’s likely that a dying cat will be reluctant to go get food and water, make sure to bring it to him instead. Add water to your cat’s food (both wet and dry) to make it easier to eat. Also use a medicine dropper to keep your cat hydrated if he’s no longer making it to the water bowl.

4. Be quiet. When we’re not feeling well loud noise and chaos just makes everything worse, and the same is true for your cat. Make it a point to keep household noise to a minimum, or reposition the cat bed in a quiet corner of the house so that other animals can’t bother her.

5. Give warmth. “Very unwell cats, especially senior cats are often not as good at maintaining body temperature. Make sure your cat has a warm and comfortable place to rest. It should be easy to clean as very sick animals often have elimination problems,” explains Cat-World.com.

6. Say Goodbye. Cats love it when their human friends talk to them and say their name. Especially if your cat is an old friend, now is the time to speak to her in low, reassuring tones. I firmly believe that cats understand us–if not the literal words–than the mood that’s conveyed by the pitch of our voice. Speak to her in a calm manner, say her name, and remind her of your love.

Have you cared for a sick or dying cat? What tips would you add to this list? Share them in a comment.

Related:
Yes, Your Cat is Actually Ignoring You
6 Tips for Winterizing Your Pet

Images via Thinkstock

414 comments

Julie K.
Julie K.8 days ago

Dying at home, Layla's story. She was not a famous cat from youtube, she was a family pet, a friend and my little Angel.
I believe that if you can ,and if your cat is not in severe pain, your cat should be with you at the end of their life cycle. I believe that if they could speak it is what they would want. The home where they have grown up and been loved in and I think is the absolute best place for them to leave this world in. I have helped two cats and three dogs pass at home. * all of those pets were very old, the eldest, a cat name Jack was 18 years old! It is not easy, it is sad but it is so deeply spiritual and YOU will gain a bond like none other. You MUST make them comfortable. I use a soft comforter with a garbage bag covering it for the accidents they all have. I find this is an easy way to change the bedding. I them pad it further and place the beloved on it. Then I just towels because they absorb better than a sheet or even a blanket. I place two or even three on top of the little one ( they have a difficult time staying warm) and then a sheet or light blanket, I also pad the sides with towels or small blankets. I keep them in the main room where their pet brothers or sisters are so they can visit and so they too can say goodbye. I have found that they do seem to say their good byes just as we do. I have even had a dog lay at the foot of my now passing cat, Layla. I saw this and feel sure that she was sharing moments with my little Layla, a loving

Pat P.
Pat P.1 months ago

After reading this article and many of the comments, I realized that it was about 2 1/2 years ago since I, previously, wrote about my beloved cat Troy's kidney disease.
I am adding to that post, now, with his impending death--a matter of a few days. I am searching for a vet to provide home euthanasia, which I wish I had done a month ago.

He has deteriorated quickly after 3 months of weekly/biweekly vet visits for CKD, heart disease and ridiculously expensive treatment of non-regenerative anemia. Although the money spent was absurd, my only regret is that it did not help him get better. I only preceded with this because the hope for improvement seemed good. Unfortunately, the vets had little experience with the this problem and the shots (I gave) involved and acknowledged that they were guessing. Once started, though he seemed to go downhill rapidly.

My best friend, my only family, my child will soon be gone. I am already devastated (and fairly aged and ill, myself) and don't know how I will cope. Yet, I can't delay the inevitable any longer. I was hoping he would reach his 20th birthday, in August, but not so.

I have lost my mother whom I loved dearly, but the loss of Troy will be greater. I have been with him over the last 5 home-bound years, almost continuously (and prior to that since he showed up on my doorstep as an older kitten), invested so much time, money and emotions. The most difficult decision of my life. Life can be so damn difficult and sad.

Trish K.
Trish K.5 months ago

I send my condolences to all those who are losing their family members and all of you grieving the before and after loss

Trish K.
Trish K.5 months ago

It is a sad but necessary topic. I hope to be the wise one and comfort he needs when his time come

Muriel Servaege
Muriel Servaege5 months ago

It's so sad. We just hope we'll be good enough when death approaches.

Kelly C.
Kelly C.6 months ago

As I sit reading this my loved cat is dying. This is so hard.
I love him.

Past Member
Past Member 11 months ago

i have a 20 y/o kitty who is in reasonably good health except for high blood pressure. she had an upper respiratory infection a few weeks ago and we were afraid we were going to lose her, but with tlc (and veterinary care) she has pulled through beautifully and is back to being her old talkative self. i do believe she has used up one of her 9 lives though.

Joy T.
Joy T.about a year ago

Such a sad subject. *sigh*

Christine Jones
Christine J.about a year ago

Thanks for a useful and compassionate article. My boy is 17 now and luckily still healthy and happy.

Luke F.
Luke F.about a year ago

Pepper and salt