All beautiful things have an end. It’s an unfortunate reality that every pet owner will be confronted with at some point. And when your cat is dying, 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
We understand you want to do everything you can to make your terminally ill cat is as comfortable as she can be. But before you ask what you can do at home, consider planning a trip to the vet first. Why? A dying cat is 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 some 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: How to find the right vet
Loss of appetite
Cats that are towards the end of their life may lose their interest in food. One of the ways to take care of a dying cat is by aiding ingestion of food through force feeding. You can do it either with your bare hands or by using a syringe. Make sure you go with a bland diet, so something soft and easily digestible like baby food or some soft boiled chicken.
Alternatively, throwing the dinner into a blender with some water may also make it easier to swallow and digest. Since most cats don’t drink enough, this will also help her stay hydrated.
If your ill cat is incontinent, you have to provide her with a clean bed several times a day. Use something like an extra soft towel or pads that you can throw in the washing machine to wash out the stinky smell.
Your cat is probably not the biggest fan of water, but it’s still vital that you clean any urine off of her to prevent infections. So when you make a clean bed, also be sure to wash her belly and sides with some pet shampoo and warm water. If she’s uncomfortable getting cleaned, it can help to pet and speak gentle words in a soft tone of voice as you wash her.
Alternatively, your vet should be able to provide you with some cat diapers.
Where to put her
Cats that are dying 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 indoors cat comfortable in her final days, provide her with such a quiet spot. There can be no sources of stress there, like loudly playing children or other pets. Also check that the room is warm enough: her body might not be able to maintain a good temperature, so make sure the area is at least 20 degrees or higher.
When it comes to resources, cats need access to these three things:
- Litter box
Your sick cat is probably struggling to get out of bed, so make sure fresh water, food and litter can quickly be reached in a straight path with no obstructions. If you have any other pets around the house, it’s a good idea to close the room off so they can’t come in and eat or drink from her bowl.
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 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 as expressive. You probably have to take the initiative here and just offer some comfort yourself. But many people don’t know how to comfort a sick cat.
So how should it be done? Imagine for a second how you would like to be treated by someone else when you are in pain. You can help your cat be more at ease by spending time with her, comforting her with your hands or even talking to her in a sweet voice. Cats don’t 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, eventually a terminally ill cat will 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.
Do not think you can do these things on your own. Your cat will have good and bad days, and you should really leave it to let a professional to take care of this.
The vet may conclude that there are 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 was probably part of the family; a companion who was waiting for you, and always greeted you with a cheerful upright tail whenever you came home from a long day at work.
The bond between the two of you likely grew strong over the years. It is very 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.