End Of Life Signs for Cats

Arkvet End

It`s Never Easy…

It’s never easy to face the reality that we’ll likely outlive our pets. Indoor cats can live anywhere from 13-20 years of age (and sometimes longer!), so it’s no wonder cat owners get particularly attached.

At Arkvet we want to help you improve the quality of life for your cat while he’s alive, but also to help make saying goodbye to your cat easier. While there is no “one” experience cat owners have during their pet’s final days or weeks, there are a few signs to look for that may be an indication that the end is near. Here are a few to know.


Appearance Changes

One of the most noticeable characteristics of an unwell cat is his or her appearance. Cats spend a lot of time and energy grooming themselves when they’re healthy, so it makes sense that a cat with less energy to burn simply can’t keep up. Terminally ill cats might begin to look messy and unkempt and might even develop a detectable odour. The odour is usually due to toxins building up in the body as a result of illness.


Decrease in Appetite or Thirst

For all animals, illness often culminates in a lack of interest in their food or water. This is because an animal’s body knows it takes work to process any food or drink, and sometimes a cat is simply too sick or tired. Lack of thirst can be attributed to dehydration which can set in quickly during a cat’s final days.


Extreme Weakness

If your cat is unwell, even if you don’t realise it, he will probably become very weak as his body tries to fight off his illness. You may find this weakness more noticeable in your cat’s hind legs, and you also may notice him sleeping a great deal more than he usually does.


Lower Body Temperature

Body temperature doesn’t usually drop until a cat’s final days. As death nears, your cat’s overall body temperature and particularly the temperature of his extremities like his ears and paws will become cooler to the touch.



Cats are known to hide when they are gravely ill. Why? Because they instinctively know that in the wild, a sick animal is a target. They are likely trying to protect themselves by “hiding” from any threat that might take advantage of them in their compromised state.


Clinginess / Odd Social Behaviour

Some cats don’t hide but in fact do the opposite as the end-of-life approaches. They become clingy to their human (and animal) companions and can seem more affectionate than usual. On the flip side of the coin, some cats completely withdraw socially during their final moments, appearing introspective and totally disinterested in engagement, but not necessarily aggressive.

We understand how very difficult it is to accept when the end is near for your cat. They have been a beloved pet and family member and coming to terms with a terminal illness is extremely difficult.


If you’d like to talk to an experienced veterinarian about your cat’s health, pain level, or even about humane options for saying goodbye on your own terms, you can ring and speak to any of the experienced veterinarians at our cat only clinic located in Dun Laoghaire.