If your cat is very old or facing a serious illness, you may be wondering how you will know when it is time to say goodbye. Dr. Alice Villalobos, a veterinary oncologist, created the Feline Quality of Life Scale to help caregivers determine when it is time to make an end of life decision.
As difficult as it is to say goodbye, no one wants to see their beloved companion suffer.
Having one or two of the following signs does not necessarily indicate your cat’s time is approaching, but you should consider speaking with your vet about a peaceful end of life plan if multiple symptoms are present.
It is normal for an aging or sick cat to experience some degree of pain. The important thing is to determine how severe your kitty’s discomfort is and whether or not it can be managed. For example, does she seem to perk up after taking her pain control medication? Is she still able to do the things she loves like eat, groom herself, and walk across the room to lay in the afternoon sun? A cat’s quality of life is definitely decreased when it become too painful to enjoy these simple pleasures.
2. Changes in Appetite & Thirst
For many cats, mealtime is the highlight of their day, making a loss of appetite especially concerning. A cat reaching the end of her life may try unsuccessfully to eat or display a total lack of interest in food. Some also go off their water, while others drink excessively, never seeming to get enough. Excess thirst and dehydration are common in cats with advanced kidney disease or unregulated diabetes.
Healthy cats sleep up to 16 hours a day. Those reaching the end of their lives tend to spend even more of their time resting. They often remain in the same spot all day rather than changing to various nap spots throughout the home or following you from room to room. In extreme cases, these cats may even stop going to the litter box and food/water bowls.