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tan253's avatar

How long does it take for a dead cats eyes to go white and pop out?

Asked by tan253 (2818points) April 10th, 2015

Sorry for this rather disturbing question.

I have lost my beautiful tabby.
He went missing 4 days ago and my neighbor said she saw a dead cat just down the hill from my house.
She took a photo for me – as she knew I was looking for him.

This cat was black – but it had been raining – he had white markings on his legs and my tabby has.
The eyes were white and bulbous – popped out – not entirely but definitely popped.

The tail was only bone and one of the ears had been eaten of.
I have no way to identify him as when I went looking – he wasn’t there and I’m assuming the council would have taken him as they take dead animals.

I’m beside myself as I loved my cat so much.
I don’t want to look at the photo again as currently it’s haunting me seeing this decomposing creature that could my cat.

My cat was a grey tabby, with black and white markings.
Could it start to decompose in 3 days?

The mouth was open the tongue was out and white – or pale pink almost white.

Sorry for this question but I’m really wanting closure and I can’t find it – so thought maybe someone here might know if this can happen in under 4 days.

Thank you.
I hope this doesn’t disturb anyone.

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23 Answers

2davidc8's avatar

I don’t know the answer, but if you don’t get the answer here, maybe ask someone in your city’s animal control department.

tan253's avatar

i have asked there and i got two separate answers sadly.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

Sorry you’re going through this. I know how sad it is to have a pet go missing.

I’m not an expert but how long decomposition takes to progress would depend on a number of factors, including the weather conditions where you are. Also, if the animal was exposed to the elements and other animals, decomposition might have been accelerated because of interference from other animals. I don’t want to share links with you about decomposition rates, but there are a number of forensic websites that will go through the various stages if you really want to know. This lists the typical process.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Depending on the weather I woulkd say it can start in three days (at least noticably). I have seen poor cats hit by cars that stay the same in appearance for over a week before they start to shrink or get carted off. Others go down rather quick, getting ran over post mortum speeds things up.

syz's avatar

The decomp sounds pretty advanced for 4 days, but it’s hard to tell since the trauma from being hit by a cat may have contributed to some of the physical changes (the tail and ear).

tan253's avatar

It’s humid here and there is a lot of rain. Do cat eyes go white when they die? I can’t find any info on it on the web and if I go by the web my cat should be in bloating stage and this cat was skinny. But it’s the white large eyes sticking out that have got me – is this a normal process?!

Thank you too – I cried all last night and feel just awful today.

tan253's avatar

I also don’t know how my cat died. There was physical trauma but they had been spraying round up around that area.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@syz The decomp sounds pretty advanced for 4 days, but it’s hard to tell since the trauma from being hit by a cat…]
Who got hit by a cat and suffered trauma? A motorcyclist who wapped a cat in a low branch on a tree, or something?

Coloma's avatar

@tan253 Syz is our resident vet tech and very experienced, I am not a vet tech but experienced as well and agree, the decomposition sounds advanced for only days, but, trauma could cause the eyes to bulge and if the cats remains have been scavenged by wild animals and out in the rain, maybe. Really, as hard as it would be you need to go and examine the cats remains. Also, 4 days is not that long to be missing. One of my old kitties once got stuck up a tree ( I presumed because he had done it before ) and was missing for 4 days before he came home.

Don’t give up hope yet, and…for closure, go and see the dead cat, you can do it, better to deal with that and have closure either way, yes or no, than to speculate.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

@Coloma, she went to look but the council have removed the animals remains.

tan253's avatar

Yeah I did go to see but no sign. I rang the council and they gave me the number of the company that clear that area so just waiting to hear from them to see if they have the cat. I guess if I can I can go look – he also said they could bring the cat to me depending on stage of decomposition. Worst part is just not knowing and trying to gauge by an awful photo of a decaying cat.

anniereborn's avatar

I’m afraid I don’t have any answers. However I just want you to know how sorry I am that you have to go through this. What a horrible situation. I hope you get some closure soon.

Coloma's avatar

@Earthbound_Misfit Oh, I must have missed that detail. @tan253 Best wishes, what a crappy thing to deal with. I love cats so much.

gondwanalon's avatar

I’m sorry and I understand your pain.

It’s possible that the cat’s eye’s are rolled upward and you’re seeing just the whites of the eyes. A blow to the head from a car might do that.

I’ve gone through this pain once before (its been 5 years and it still hurts) and I’ve learned from it. Never again! I have two cats now and they both have I.D. chips and always wear collars with I.D.

tan253's avatar

UPDATE: so I went to the neighbour and asked her where she saw the cat and it was ages away from where I was looking and across a 5.1metre high steel bridge going over a motorway!

So I went searching.
I found the cat.
Heavily decomposing.
When I touched it (with a stick and wearing a mask!) it pretty much fell apart.
The only thing I could make out were its pads on its paws.
My cats were black and this cats paws were pink.
Also the fur was black black and no sign of a tabby – it’s skin underneath was white.

So…. I don’t think its my cat!!!!
It is in a swamp which I know is perfect for decomposing things but could it get to that stage of falling away from bone in 4 days?

Also one more question : do a cats pads change colour when they die?

I’m pretty excited that it might not be him but still hesitant to jump up and down crying with relief.

Earthbound_Misfit's avatar

I’m glad it’s not your cat @tan253. I don’t think a cat’s pads change colour when they decompose. Have you printed some flyers and called local vets and the local cat rescue places? I lost one of my cats and did this and it turned out the cat was next door, trapped in a man’s car. Thankfully he was fine. The man next door, who was renting, hadn’t known where he was from.

jca's avatar

Before reading your update, @tan253, I was going to say that I don’t think your first description sounded like your cat. It sounds like a different cat. You say there was a dead black cat and your cat was not black.

Just some advice – go walking all over, calling the cat’s name. Write up signs in clear, large letters with a description of the cat, where he was last seen and when, and your contact info. Copy the signs (if you don’t have money for copies, ask a local agency like an animal shelter or the PD if they can make you about 20 or 30 copies), maybe 20 times and put them in clear top loading sheet protectors (google it if you don’t know what I mean). Put the open side of the sheet protector facing down so if it rains, water doesn’t hit the paper sign. Hang those signs up all over in the area you live in. Take a few (not necessarily in sheet protectors) to local animal control, police, community agencies and supermarkets and hang them up there, too. I am with @Coloma who says 4 days is not a lot to be missing a cat. It’s possible the cat is out there and lost.

I wish you only the best luck with this. I know it is heartbreaking and nerve wracking. Please update us as possible.

jca's avatar

One more thing – when you go all over calling the cat’s name, do it several times a day. Morning, afternoon, evening, whenever you can. This will also get you out and talking to people in the area, giving you an opportunity to tell them about the cat and so they will keep watch for him, too.

kritiper's avatar

Flies lay their eggs in any crevice they can find on a dead animal, usually the same day the animal dies. The eyes will probably be gone the next day due to the maggots.

tan253's avatar

Hi all! Updating this question!
It wasn’t my cat but my boy never came back sadly. I did all I could do – spca, flyers next and nothing. I think he’s actually being loved by another family. At the spca last week / my daughter and I met a little girl teenage cat and be both fell in love with her so we have taken her home. She’s fixed microchipped and loves my daughter! Doesn’t replace our boy but glad I could offer another feline friend a family!
Much love

Coloma's avatar

@tan253 Well, there is always a silver lining inspite of missing your old boy. Same thing kinda happened to me when I had to euthanize my young adopted cat a few years ago due to a rare and incurable disease. If not for that I never would have adopted my new kitty that I have had now for over 3 years and can’t imagine never having the opportunity to know and love him.
Congrats on the new kitty!

jca's avatar

Thank you for the update, @tan253!

The Update Lady

fluthernutter's avatar

@tan253 Thanks for the update! Glad to hear you’ve found another little kitty to love (but not to replace!)

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