General Question

Strauss's avatar

Is it sometimes normal for an old pet to go away to die?

Asked by Strauss (20386points) April 29th, 2014

The other day I met a neighbor who was posting a flyer on the light post near my sidewalk. Her cat of 19 years, poor eyesight and hearing, had wandered off and not come home for several days. The cat had wandered off several times over the years, but had returned within a day or so. The neighbor feared that the cat’s advanced age would negatively affect her ability to find her way home. I think the poor animal wandered off to die. I did not share my feelings with the woman, only assured her that if I saw the cat I would call her.

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

15 Answers

GloPro's avatar

Yes. It is normal animal behavior. The last pet I had to pass away hid in the laundry room for the last three days she was alive. Her constant companion mate actually wrote her off and wouldn’t pay her any attention 2 days into her hiding.
The traveling vet couldn’t come any earlier, he was helping the government dispose of wild horses… Don’t get me started. But I was so grateful to have someone come to the house.
The last day my rottie was alive before her appointment to euthanize her she hid from me. It broke my heart. Animals are not people, and nearing death this becomes obvious.

SadieMartinPaul's avatar

Yes. We want to fawn over our feline companions during their final days, but they often prefer to be left alone and die on their own terms.

The last time I lost a cat, I was relatively lucky. The lil’ guy didn’t hide under a couch or retreat to a corner. He just hung out quietly and let me pat him, speak softly to him, and feed him all his favorite foods. That is, until he could no longer eat, and I knew it was time to say “goodbye.”

gailcalled's avatar

Posting this to @syz, our animal behavioral expert.

SpatzieLover's avatar

Yes it’s quite common in cats, in particular.

Some cats prefer to be alone when in pain. In the wild, cats must go into seclusion once vulnerable (ill/dying) to predators.

Other cats are completely the opposite, and never want to be alone as the alter. Our 18yr old cat passed recently. She’d panic if we left her in the room we had her hospice bed in. Instead we had to constantly talk to her so she’d know we were still around.

rojo's avatar

I think it is. I don’t know whether they actually go off somewhere to die.

I believe it a creature, such as a cat, that is used to roaming and doing exactly what it feels like doing will continue to do so until they absolutely cannot do it any longer. If they are in the house when the end comes then that is where it happens. If it is in the field, then the end is there.

gailcalled's avatar

@SpatzieLover: What is a hospice bed for a cat? That’s a new term for me.

SpatzieLover's avatar

The same as hospice for a human: Palliative care.

In this case it was a mobile bed (created out of a pillow, and soft comfortable old clothing (sweaters, flannels, etc). Since our Zoe had a stroke prior to her passing, we made it possible for her to relieve herself onto a puppy pad comfortable placed underneath the various soft fabrics we had her on.

Hospice for pets

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

My female retriever gave it up and started going downhill after the other dog died, but we had her inside. But she was also very social and she still liked her time with us. I can see a cat going off by itself to die.

Coloma's avatar

Yes if the animal is not being tended to in a responsible fashion. Poor kitty, WTF…who lets their demented and ancient pet just wander off into the sunset? Pffft!
My last ancient kitty that died of heart failure from thyroid disease was never out of my sight in his final months. He WANTED to be near me all the time, until the end, which was a home euthanasia, in my arms.

kritiper's avatar

I have heard of animals doing this. No actual experience, though.

LostInParadise's avatar

How many times in the wild have you ever seen an animal that died of natural causes? Considering the numbers of birds, rabbits, squirrels and deer there are, by chance you would think it should be fairly common. They must all go off to die in private.

syz's avatar

That’s a long-held supposition, and may have a kernel of truth. Although, frankly, if someone told me they’d let their 19 year old blind and deaf cat outside, I’d be surprised if he did make it home.

In the wild, animals “hide” signs of injury or illness to avoid attracting the attention of predators. Sometimes that means finding cover or a place to hide away. (Hell, in pet birds, they hide it so well that a sick bird is invariably just one step away from dead.) But when someone says “He went off alone to die”, I would be willing to guarantee that the majority of those cases has had some disaster befall them (getting hit by a car, predated, lost, etc.).

Coloma's avatar

@syz I agree…and again, what the hell…letting a 19 yr. old blind and deaf and feeble pet out to wander is like letting your 98 year old, blind and demented grandmother go out walking alone.

Strauss's avatar

Just an update for anyone who might be interested…
When I was taking my daughter to school this morning, we saw a cat that resembled the picture on the lady’s poster, only this cat looked a lot healthier. I called the lady, and heard the story: the lady (let’s call her Shelley) had known that the cat was very old, and would not last very much longer, so she was emotionally prepared for the worst. One morning the cat was at the front door, scratching and mewing insistently to go out. The cat was used to going out and coming back in about an The next morning, Shelley got a call from another neighbor who had seen the poster and recognized the cat. They had let her into their garage, and thinking her to be a stray, had contacted a local shelter. Shelley then contacted the shelter, recovered the kitty, who by then was not doing well at all. They then went to the vet, and it was determined that euthanasia was the best and most humane course of treatment.

Coloma's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Awww…..I dunno, it sure seems like this woman was not a very good pet owner. To turn a blind eye on an old animal and just ignore it until the bitter end, I don’t agree.
If you know your pet is getting close to the end I’d think one would be a little ( a LOT ) more attentive.
RIP kitty. :-(

Answer this question




to answer.

This question is in the General Section. Responses must be helpful and on-topic.

Your answer will be saved while you login or join.

Have a question? Ask Fluther!

What do you know more about?
Knowledge Networking @ Fluther