Have you heard that cats go away to die? If so, you are not the only one. However, most people are uncertain as to whether cats seeking solitude at the time of death is an urban legend, a half-truth, or completely true.
In short, it is true that old cats often disappear prior to departing this plane of existence. However, there is some debate as to why this phenomenon occurs and also the frequency at which it occurs.
- Why Old Cats Disappear Before Passing Away
- Are Cats Tapping Into Their Evolutionary Past When Disappearing?
- Do Cats Want to Withdraw From Their Surroundings as Death Approaches?
- Are Cats Really Aware They are Dying?
- Do Both Indoor and Outdoor Cats Venture far Away to Die?
Why Old Cats Disappear Before Passing Away
There is a widespread belief that old cats know when they are nearing the end of their life. These old animals seem to instinctually understand their time is up.
As a result, some older cats will venture far away from their home, find a secluded area away from any potential disturbances, and peacefully pass away. However, this explanation of why cats disappear prior to dying is merely a theory as opposed to fact.
Since no one can enter a cat’s mind, there is no way to tell for sure why, exactly, older cats venture far away from their home to die. Let’s take a look at some additional reasons why cats might depart their home prior to passing away.
Other Explanations for Cats Disappearing Prior to Death
Though no one is quite sure why cats disappear prior to passing away, some insist cats leave home as they have become senile. A cat that loses its mind due to senility caused by old age certainly has the potential to venture far away from home simply because he or she no longer recognizes the fact that the current surroundings constitute home.
Brain chemical imbalances occur in cats’ brains, similar to how they occur in human brains in old age. So don’t discount the potential for senility to be the true cause of your cat’s movement away from home prior to dying.
Physical Health Ailments
It is quite possible domestic cats venture far away from home and simply cannot return home due to physical debilitation. Some cats end up in a creek with fast-running water or on a hillside and do not have the physical strength to emerge from the space in question.
It is also possible the animal becomes disoriented, similar to the manner in which senior citizens become disoriented, and cannot make their way back home due to confusion. Such disorientation can lead to the cat traveling for days or even weeks in an aimless manner, simply looking for a warm and safe space.
Furthermore, there is also the potential that the cat has suffered a physical ailment due to an altercation with another cat, dog, or a different animal. There is even a chance the cat has been struck by an automobile and no longer has the physical strength necessary to make it back home because it’s suffering.
The bottom line is older cats, or a sick cat suffers health ailments similar to those endured by human beings who reach their 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. Older cats have the potential to suffer from impaired vision, hearing loss, cognitive impairment, muscle weakness, and arthritis.
Each of these conditions makes it challenging to return home after venturing far away. Add in the fact that cats are prone to systemic diseases in old age and the chances of a furry friend making it back home after departing are even lower.
If the weather takes a turn for the worse, the aging cat is even less likely to return home. After all, a pet who is cold, wet, lost, and afraid has little-to-no chance of making it back home.
Are Cats Tapping Into Their Evolutionary Past When Disappearing?
Some argue cats are merely drawing from their evolutionary history when they venture far away from home to die. This phenomenon occurred in the past as cats departed their place of comfort to be alone when passing away simply because dying in peace is much better than dying while being torn to shreds by a larger predator.
So don’t assume you are at fault for your cat venturing far away from your home to pass away. It is quite possible your furry friend is merely tapping into its evolutionary past and attempting to escape potential predators in the quest to die alone in peace.
Do Cats Want to Withdraw From Their Surroundings as Death Approaches?
Though it might be hard to believe, some cats display withdrawal signs when they sense death is near. Some cats will withdraw from their home environment, hiding from people and other pets.
Such a shying away from loved ones due to sickness and the pending death is a clue that your cat is preparing to depart this place of existence.
Sick and Injured Cats Might Hide far Away From Home
In some cases, cats who are found alone after death were merely attempting to hide while sick and/or injured. Cats that are dealing with injury or sickness often seek hiding spaces where they can tend to their wounds without interference or simply attempt to find some peace before passing away.
The plain truth of the matter is cats enjoy quiet spaces, especially when they are ill or injured. Therefore, if you find your beloved cat is hiding in a secluded area such as your garden, a cupboard, or a closet, it is a sign the animal is sick, and a visit to the veterinarian’s office might be necessary.
The Dying Behavior of Cats
Dying cats act differently than healthy and vibrant cats. Pay close attention to your cat, and you might be able to identify clues that indicate he or she is near death.
There are numerous symptoms that indicate your cat is sick, injured, or debilitated in another manner. As an example, if your cat appears to have lost his or her energy and is constantly fatigued, it is a clear sign there is something wrong. In particular, if your cat becomes tired without an apparent reason, it is an indication he or she is in poor health and might be near death.
Fatigue is only one example of a common behavior exhibited by dying cats. Unsteadiness, serious skin problems, disruptions in sleep patterns, and loss of appetite are also additional signs that your cat is ill, injured, and/or possibly dying.
Furthermore, if you find your cat is disinterested in his or her surroundings and activities, it is a clue he or she is in poor health and might be nearing death. Be mindful of these signs that your cat is in poor health and bring him or her to the veterinarian’s office for a comprehensive examination as soon as you notice any of the symptoms listed above.
It is quite possible a timely visit to the veterinarian’s office will help treat your cat’s illness or injury, potentially saving his or her life.
If your cat is no longer acting the same, it is cause for concern. Even a minor personality change in your cat is a clue something might be wrong. If your furry friend used to be outgoing and is now hiding or proves irritable when you attempt to pick him up or play, it is a clue he is in pain.
Though it is true, some cats simply do not enjoy being touched and petted, a cat who suddenly changes in response to human attempts to touch, pet and play, is providing an indication he is sick or injured.
It is also possible a cat that used to be independent but is now highly social is also dealing with an injury or illness that might lead to death. If death is near, the aging cat might actively seek out the company of his or her owner in an attempt to obtain a sense of comfort and peace before passing away.
However, it is difficult to interpret if such a personality change is an indication of impending death or illness. Seize the opportunity to comfort your ailing cat as it might be your last chance to spend time with him or her before he/she departs this plane of existence.
Your Cat Didn’t go Away to die Because of You
Unless you are an abusive pet owner, your cat did not venture far from home in an attempt to be away from you. Though some cats simply do not socialize well with human beings, they will not walk miles from home in an attempt to die far away from their owners.
This means you should not feel guilty if you find out your cat ventured into the woods, to another neighborhood, or other space to die without you and your family in the vicinity. In short, cats do not commit suicide or act out of spite after being mistreated by pet owners.
Even if you feel a bit guilty about the manner in which you treated your cat, the bottom line is he or she will not walk far away from home to plop down and die in an effort to be as far away from you as possible.
As noted above, cats have a multitude of reasons for departing their living space when the time comes to pass away. Some aging cats seek a quiet and peaceful place that will prove comfortable during death.
Other cats are merely following their instinctual drive to venture to a hidden area that is far away from predators so they can pass away without constantly worrying about whether a larger animal will find them.
Even if your neighborhood has merely one large dog or the occasional stray coyote or fox, your pet might perceive the presence of such an animal as a legitimate threat to its well-being and subsequently venture far away from home when death approaches.
Are Cats Really Aware They are Dying?
No one is quite certain whether cats understand when they are dying or near death. However, the mere fact that some cats walk far away from home in the days and hours prior to passing away in a secluded space is an indication that cats nearing death are aware that there is something wrong.
However, cats do not understand death to the same level as human beings as our brains and knowledge base are comparably extensive and complex. The bottom line is cats who feel sick, injured, and/or vulnerable are that much more likely to stray from home. Cats are well aware of the fact that there are ferocious predators who will attack them when vulnerable.
Cats are hardwired to conceal signs of weakness, injury, and illness as they know predators will view these faults as an opportunity to attack. As a result, cats are inclined to seek safe, secluded areas far away from potential threats when they are feeling sick or ill.
In short, no one can say for certain whether cats are aware of the fact that they are dying. However, it is quite clear cats prefer to remain alone when they are preparing to die and also be alone at the moment of death.
Cats appear to genuinely value the peace provided by quiet and secluded areas as these spaces provide a safe, distraction-free area to rest in their final moments. The bottom line is cats have fairly reliable instincts.
It is quite possible some cats are instinctually aware that the end is near. Therefore, it is safe to say that if your cat is gravitating toward comfortable and quiet areas more than in the past or if your cat has disappeared, there is a chance he or she is nearing the end.
Do Both Indoor and Outdoor Cats Venture far Away to Die?
There is a common misconception that it is only outdoor cats who run away from home when it is time to die. However, some indoor house cats also try to venture outdoors and find a peaceful place to pass away, possibly miles away from their usual surroundings.
The moral of this story is cats seek quiet, peace, and solitude when dying. Even if your cat spends most or all of his or her time indoors, he or she will likely make an attempt to segue to the afterlife in a quiet space. This means your indoor cat might try to sneak outside and flee home prior to dying.
However, even if your indoor cat manages to find its way outside, you should not construe it as a clue he or she is intentionally shunning you and your family during this difficult time. Rather, your aging cat is merely attempting to find peace before passing away.
Provide Your Cat With a Comfortable Living Environment
If you are afraid your elderly cat will venture far away from home in an attempt to find a peaceful resting area where he or she can pass away without worrying about a predator, noise pollution, annoying human beings, or other forms of interference, be proactive.
Make your living space as comfortable as possible for your furry friend. Reduce the level of noise in and near your home. If there are stray animals in the neighborhood, add a fence to your yard to keep your cat well-protected.
Provide your cat with a soft bed to rest in, plenty of delicious food, and cold water. Continue to change your cat’s litter at the usual frequency. Do everything in your power to make your home comfortable for your cat, and you will have done your part to reduce the chances of him or her attempting to depart home in the final days.
As long as your home is quiet and safe, your cat will likely consider remaining there to die peacefully.
Appreciate Every Moment You Have With Your Cat
Cats are notoriously sickly animals and generally have happy lives. Plenty of cats do not survive more than a couple of years. If your cat makes it to age five without numerous visits to the veterinarian’s office, you are lucky. Be thankful for every moment you have with your furry friend.
This way, when the time comes to say goodbye to your furry bundle of joy, you’ll have peace of mind, and you won’t feel even the slightest bit of guilt. You will know that you did everything in your power to provide your cat with the highest possible quality of life.
If your cat decides to remain at or near home during his or her final hours, provide care in the form of speaking with a soothing tone of voice, lightly stroking his/her fur, and simply being there when the time comes for your fur buddy to depart this plane of existence.