“All beautiful things have an end”. It’s an unfortunate reality that every pet owner will have to deal with at some point. When your cat is in her final days, it’s only natural that you start looking for ways to provide her with some comfort in the last days or weeks. But how do you comfort a dying a cat?
A trip to the vet
It’s understandable that you want to do everything you can to make your sick cat is as comfortable as she can be. But, first things first: before you make preparations at home, consider paying the vet a visit first. Dying cats are often in pain. Since veterinarians can prescribe very effective painkillers, they can be of tremendous help in alleviating some of that pain.
Your vet may also be able to provide you with some general tips to help prepare for other things you’ll have to deal with in the coming days and weeks, such as incontinence and a loss of appetite.
-> Recommended: Dr. Joanna shares a few tips on how to find a great veterinarian
Loss of appetite
Cats that are towards the end of their life may lose all interest in food. One of the ways to take care of a dying cat is by forcing the ingestion of nutrients through force feeding. You can do this either with your bare hands or by using a syringe. A bland diet may be the perfect choice here: it’s made up of something soft and easily digestible like baby food or some soft boiled chicken.
If you can’t get bland foods, you can also just throw the meal into a blender with some water as this makes it a lot easier to swallow and digest. Since most cats don’t drink enough, this will also help her stay hydrated.
If your sick cat has become incontinent, it’s important to provide her with a clean bed at least once but preferably several times a day. Use something like an extra soft towel or pads, that you can easily throw in the washing machine to wash out any stinky smells.
Your cat is probably not a huge fan of water, but it is still vital that you wash any urine out of her fur in order to prevent infections. So when you make a clean bed, also be sure to wash her belly and sides with a mix of a few drops of pet shampoo in some lukewarm water. If she’s uncomfortable with this process, it can help to pet her and speak some words in a soft & gentle tone of voice.
No luck? Alternatively, your vet might be able to provide you with some cat diapers.
Where to put a sick cat
Cats that are dying usually want to be in a quiet place. This is because all cats have a natural instinct to hide whenever they are in pain. In nature, they can’t afford to show weakness when there’s all kinds of predators roaming around looking for a chance to invade territory,
To make your sick indoors cat comfortable, be sure to provide a nice cozy place in a quiet area of your house. There should be no sources of stress t=here: make sure the room is not used by children, and that there are no other pets around. Also, double-check that the room is warm enough. Since her body might not be able to maintain a good temperature. you have to make sure the area is at least 20 degrees or higher.
When it comes to resources, cats need access to three things:
- Litter box
Your sick cat is probably struggling to get out of bed, so make sure fresh water, food and litter can all easily be reached in a straight path. That means no obstructions. If you have any other pets around the house, it’s probably a good idea to close off the room in order to prevent them from coming in and eating or drinking from her bowls.
Tip: Does your litter become smelly after just a few days? Try to use one of these powerful deodorizing powders
How to provide comfort
One of the things that almost all cats are reluctant to do is show you that they want to be comforted. We humans can use our words to tell someone that we feel bad. or we might be able to make it obvious through our body language. But cats are not nearly as expressive. So there’s a good chance that you may have to take the initiative here and offer some words of comfort for your cat yourself.
Since most people don’t know how to comfort a sick cat, here’s some guidelines. First, imagine for a second how you would like to be treated when you are in pain. Your cat probably wants the same things; you can help her be more at ease by spending time with her and comforting her by petting with your hands.
Even talking to a cat in a sweet voice can help. Cats may not understand (most of) your words, but they can definitely pick up on the emotions that are reflected in them.
When it’s time to let go
Even with the best possible care, a terminally ill cat will eventually pass away. If you visited the veterinarian (which we always recommend when a cat is ill), he or she will probably want to re-evaluate your cat’s quality of life frequently. Difficult as it may be, you should leave this job to a vet. Even with your best intentions, you can’t make these kinds of evaluations on your own.
Your cat will have good and bad days. Your vet may conclude that there are yet more good days ahead. But if he or she sees that your cat has completely stopped eating or has developed serious respiratory issues, it’s probably time to let go.
And then.. ?
You lost a friend. Your cat may have been a part of your family; a companion who was always waiting for you at the door after a long day at work. Maybe your cat always greeted you with her tail whenever you came home. If you formed a bond after many years, it’s normal to go through a period of grief after losing a pet. Some people even experience feelings of guilt after having a pet euthenized.
You should allow yourself the time to process these emotions. Don’t be too shy to ask your family and friends if you need support or a listening ear.
Decide what to do with the body
Some people choose to bury their euthanised cat themselves, but you may also enlist a burial service at the pet cemetary instead. This will give you a place to visit and remember your beloved friend.
Cremation is another option that allows you to do something memorable with the ashes. For example, you could buy a beautiful urn to put them in, or even have a piece of jewelry made with some of the ashes.