A lonely cat sitting on a sidewalk.

Sudden Cat Death: Tips for Understanding Why It Happens

One of the worst things a pet lover can experience is the sudden loss of their beloved cat. Trying to understand sudden cat death is excruciatingly painful. You want to make sense of what happened, consider what you could have done differently, and determine if there were health issues that you didn’t observe. It is most difficult to understand sudden cat death when it happens to a young animal. In this article, we discuss some of the possible causes of sudden cat death.

Feline Life Expectancy vs. Risk of Sudden Death

The life expectancy of cats can be anywhere from 14 to 22 years of age. There is a substantial difference in life expectancy depending on the individual cat lifestyle. Life expectancy can vary depending on if the cat is indoor only, indoor and outdoor, or outdoor only.

Indoor-only cats have the longest life expectancy, followed by cats that are both indoor and outdoor. Cats that live outdoors have the shortest lifespan, due to exposure to toxins, trauma, animal attacks, and infectious diseases. While this trend is a generalization, there are outdoor-only cats with good genes that are provided with a nutritious diet and veterinary care that have very long lifespans.

Possible Causes of Sudden Death in Cats

There are many causes of unexpected or sudden cat death.

As we consider illness and death in cats, one thing that is important to remember is that cats are very good at hiding their illness as a survival measure, which allows cats to be sick for a long time before anyone is aware. This can be especially true for those who spend everyday with their cat and don’t notice subtle changes like weight loss, shedding, sleeping more, or a dull hair coat. As our cats get older, we may believe that symptoms such as weight loss, less activity, and/or lethargy are from them slowing with age rather than from an illness.

Causes of sudden death in cats include:

While it is extremely difficult to understand the loss of a beloved cat, especially at a young age, it does happen. There are reports of young athletes with no prior health problems suddenly dying while playing their sport, or a young “in shape” person in their 40s who goes out for a jog and drops dead. Sudden death can happen in cats as well, which can be just as devastating and make as little sense.

The only comfort you can take from this situation is knowing that you did the best you could and that you gave your cat a wonderful life. We at PetPlace hope this gives you some comfort.