As pet owners, it is our responsibility to do the best for our pets, including making the difficult decision to end their suffering when their quality of life is no longer good. Cats are independent animals who try to hide signs of weakness and illness. There are 6 signs we tend to see when a cat is nearing end of life, though. These signs can help you make an informed decision when end of life is imminent. Here’s what to watch for when it might be time to say goodbye:

1. Significant Changes in Activity Level

If your normally active cat has been spending more and more time sleeping, it is usually a sign there is something wrong. As cats get nearer to end of life, they lose energy and strength in their limbs, which makes it difficult to move normally. While this alone is not enough to decide to euthanize, it can be a factor that helps you make a decision when necessary.

2. Difficulty Regulating Body Temperature

As a cat is nearing end of life stages, it can become difficult to regulate body temperature. This will result in noticeable changes in how the ears or paws feel to the touch. If you notice that your cat’s extremities feel much colder or hotter than normal, you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian. 

3. Changes to Eating or Drinking Behavior

Animals will usually tell us when something is wrong if they suddenly change how they eat or drink. If your cat is no longer interested in food or water, it might be time to consider end-of-life care. This is especially true if they have one or more of the other traits on this list.

4. Noticeable Behavior Changes

You know your cat better than anyone, and you know his or her usual behavior. Antisocial cats that suddenly become clingy or normally affectionate cats that spend more time alone might be dealing with a big health issue. Excessive purring or attention seeking can also be a sign of pain, discomfort or self-soothing. If your cat is suddenly acting differently, it is important to schedule a checkup with the vet. 

5. Changes to the Coat

Cats that are nearing end of life will often start to look disheveled. Major changes to the appearance and condition of the fur can signal you that the end is on the horizon. 

6. Increased Hiding Around the House

Most cats love to curl up in a secret spot and enjoy a good nap, but when a cat is nearing end of life, they will often start hiding in new places around the home. Instinctually, cats tend to retreat from others when they sense that the end is coming. This behavior change can be a signal that it is time to talk to your veterinarian about your end-of-life care options.

While none of these signs might be alarming alone, a few of them could let you know it is time to make a decision. The caring and compassionate team at Union Lake Veterinary Hospital is here to help you through every stage of the process. From exams to pain management and after care options, we are here to help you through this difficult time. To learn more, please call us at (248) 363-1508.