Two cats cleaning each other, bathed in bright sunlight.

12 Things You May Not Know About Cat Death

Losing a pet is always hard, but understanding the process can make things a bit easier. Here are 12 facts you may not know about cat death (and animal death in general):

1. Cats die with their eyes open.

It takes active muscle control to close the eyes. (The same is true of humans.)

2. Many cats “hide” when they are sick.

This is a defensive mechanism to prevent predators from spotting them in a vulnerable state.

3. Many cat owners think that when a cat goes off to “die,” it is a peaceful death.

That is often not the case. Many cats will suffer for hours or even days before they die.

4. When humans die, the sense of sight is the first to go and hearing is the last.

The same is thought to be true for dogs and cats.

5. Many cats will continue to breathe and have muscle movements after their heart has stopped.

6. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the oldest cat on record was a domestic longhair named Spike.

Until 2001, when he passed away at the ripe old age of 31 (that’s 140 in human years, but who’s counting?), Spike was still happily chasing spiders and enjoying life. Spike lived in Dorset, England with his owner, an aromatherapist named Mo Elkington. (Another British cat was recorded to be 34 years old when they died in 1957, but it was not documented by Guinness.)

7. Cats do not suffer from myocardial infarction (heart attack) as people do.

In cats, the term is typically used to either define a collapsing episode (more accurately termed as syncope or loss of consciousness) or to describe sudden death of an animal in terms that people can understand.

8. Humans are not the only species to bury their dead.

Both chimpanzees and elephants have been observed covering the bodies of deceased members of their groups. Scientists have observed elephants gently touching the skulls and tusks of other elephants long after the bodies have decomposed.

9. The pharaohs of Ancient Egypt believed that animals and people shared the afterlife.

This resulted in humans being buried with their animals. Beloved cats were frequently mummified and placed into tombs with their owners.

10. Cats get almost every disease that humans get, including diabetes, heart disease, and cancer.

11. Many people choose to bury their beloved cats in the backyard or garden.

While this may bring great comfort, it may also be against the law. In many areas, government regulations prohibit this practice. Find out what is permitted in your area before you bury your cat.

12. Some cats will mourn the loss of a companion animal.

However, many cats don’t mourn at all or seek any closure from seeing a deceased companion.