Why do cats disappear when they are about to die – a common question asked by sorrowful, dejected feline owners when their senior cats go into hiding as they are approaching the end of their life. We will get down to the reasons, but it is equally important to differentiate between realities and myths. That way, we will be in a better position to help our feline fellow in all circumstances—in life as well as death.

Is cats disappearing when they’re about to die a myth? Not entirely!

Why Do Cats Disappear When They Are About to Die?

Although there is no evidence to tell for sure what a cat might be thinking, most likely, felines are up to looking for a safe, calm, and comfortable spot before they die. Since such places are less busy, the cat may appear to have disappeared.

Why do cats need secluded whereabouts in the first place? Well, cats do not necessarily and intentionally ‘disappear’ before they die. A sick and old, naturally dying furry pal is devoid of capabilities to fight and ward off predators. Making a wise move, she naturally seeks a secluded spot that is free of any dangers and threats. But that is not all: there are other pieces of wisdom as well.

Energy Preservation

Sick and old cats are usually accompanied by difficulty in movement. This makes them energy-deficient – they have to put an extra effort into doing their daily tasks, such as hunting for food. Being isolated, they are free from the interferences that could make them move unnecessarily, thus contributing to the power reserves.

Warding off the Pain

When cats are old and about to die, they experience pain, and this pain tends to be constant. If, in such circumstances, the owners stroke them, they would naturally try to get rid of such actions. But since the poor fellows cannot effectively resist the strokes at this stage, they might choose to isolate themselves.

Do Cats Hide Before Dying to Comfort Human Emotions?

Though cats know when their humans are sad, they are probably not secluding before dying just to spare their humans the pain of seeing them suffer. This fairytale was probably invented just to make pet lovers, who lost their four-legged babies, feel better.

It is a myth that cats leave their owners before they die in a quest to calm their emotions down and find a secluded place to pass away where no person can see them.

It is also wrongly believed that dying cats might leave their owners out of the fear of being euthanized. This is not true as well. Why would cats who are loved and well taken care of even think of leaving their parents in old age or sickness when they need the most care?

In her essay “He Just Went off to Die, Doc,” Wendy Smith Wilson, DVM, writes: “Older pets can suffer from hearing loss, impaired vision, cognitive dysfunction (the animal version of Alzheimer’s disease), crippling arthritis and muscle weakness, or a myriad of serious, systemic diseases that can make it impossible for them to return home once they’ve gotten too far away. Even those who are not irreparably impaired cannot escape an attack, speeding vehicles, or geographical disorientation. If the weather is bad, they are even more likely to get in trouble — imagine what it would be like for you if you were lost, wet, cold, and afraid.”

So, if your sick or old cat is not at home, instead of believing that she might have just gone off to die, you should search for her in the neighborhood. She might be in some trouble or have forgotten the way home. She needs you the most, and as a responsible pet parent, you should not do your best to find and bring her home.

Do Cats Know When They Are Dying?

Maybe yes. Since they rely mostly on the body language of people and animals around them to communicate, they are believed to have the capability to spot any behavior and biological changes, including those related to death. It is, therefore, also believed that cats can detect the same in their own selves.

Although there exists no scientific evidence, experts say that cats can predict death in other living beings due to the specific smell emanating from dying people and animals. Apply this claim to the cats themselves, and they might know that their time is near.

Oscar – The Cat Who Can Predict Death

Oscar the Cat, a resident of a nursing home in Rhodes Islands, is known to have predicted the death of over 50 patients accurately. Whomever Oscar tries to provide comfort to dies within a few hours.

Does A Lost Cat Always Mean She Is Dying?

Remember that hiding is one of the favorite jobs of cats. It is in their instinct. Because of the feeling of calmness and security, felines love getting away from literally everything – be it an animal or a human being. Such behavior is further strengthened when a cat becomes nervous or feels threatened.

Even if your cat is old or has any medical issues, there still exist chances that she is hiding only to fulfill her natural craving. It is not even necessary for cats to travel far away to hide; your cat could be hiding within your home premises. You can check the places that make a comfortable spot for her first when you begin searching for her:

What Are the Signs That Cat Exhibit Before Dying?

Cats show certain signs before they die, but since they are good at hiding their illnesses, observation with full attention is the key to knowing if your cat is dying. If you find those in your cat, it may be an indication that if she disappears, she has disappeared because her time has come.

The most common signs of a dying cat include:

Low heart rateDilated eyes
Low breathing rateFrequent hiding
Low body temperatureIncontinence
Little to no eating and drinkingPersonality changes
Foul odorSeizure episodes

Is It Possible to Keep Your Cat Near Before She Dies?

Yes, you can keep your cat in sight before she dies. Since cats ‘disappear’ to seek a calm and relaxed environment before dying, if you replicate such a place inside your home’s premises, there would be a high probability that your furry pal will opt for it instead of going miles away. You can choose it in your garden or even indoors.

Making such a place is not a difficult task. Make sure that the location you select fulfills two main criteria: it is comfortable, and it is away from all daily hustle and bustle. You can also place a readymade cat home at the quietest place in your home and place necessary food items and comfortable cloth lining in it. You can also place a camera nearby to make sure your senior kitty has gone there without disturbing her.

Wyze v3 Pet Cam

It can record for up to three days. It is waterproof, has nighttime sensors, and has a two-way audio system. Just leave it in the designated place and monitor your feline mate on your mobile device.  

Considering Euthanasia Is Not a Bad Idea

Euthanizing your cat may sound horrible, but seeing your cat in excruciating pain could also become unbearable for feline lovers. Therefore, to end the pain and the suffering of their sick cats, many cat owners consider euthanasia after discussing it with their veterinarian.

When your cat has a terminal or incurable disease such as cancer or the inability to move without pain, euthanasia becomes a viable option. Euthanasia is generally painless and does not hurt at all if led by a trained physician. Euthanizing their sick and senior cats, owners can take solace in the fact that their pet departed peacefully. 

Conclusion: Why Do Cats Disappear When They Are About to Die?

Cats nearing death are most vulnerable to predators, as they do not have the energy to run away or put up a fight if a predator shows up. So, they hide in a secluded place, where no predator wanders by.

Though cats prefer to rest in solitude when they are sick, you should never leave your cat on its own. Instead, you should provide a comforting place for your cat to rest in, provide her the seclusion she needs and take care of her nutritional needs.

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