Causes of sudden death in cats

There are many causes of sudden death in cats

All of us who love our furry ones would like them to live the longer the better. The problem appears when we do not realize that they are sick, or that we convince ourselves that they will recover on their own after a few days. That is when the disease progresses and, sometimes, gets so bad that when we take them to the vet it is usually late.

But to this we must also add that these animals are experts when it comes to hiding pain. So, How can we avoid sudden death in cats?

What is sudden death?

Sudden death in cats sometimes cannot be avoided

Well the name says it all: is the sudden death of an animal (regardless of whether it is human, dog, cat ...). In the case of the feline, by its own survival instinct it has evolved so much that it knows well how to hide the pain; in fact, it will only show signs of weakness if you are very confident with your human and if you also live in a calm and pleasant environment.

Therefore, it is very important that we pay attention to the furry that we have at home, since any symptom, any small change in its routine, can be a sign of illness.

What are the causes?

Next we are going to tell you what are the causes of sudden death in cats. When considering 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, allowing cats to get sick for a long time before someone gets sick. realize.

This can be especially true for those who spend every day with their cat and do not notice subtle changes such as weight loss, hair loss, more sleep, or a dull coat. As our cats age, we may believe that symptoms such as weight loss, less activity, and / or lethargy are due to lessening with age rather than illness.

Causes of sudden death in cats include:

  • trauma. This is more common in outdoor cats, but can happen to any animal. Examples of trauma include being hit by a vehicle, attacks or bites from dogs or other animals, gunshot wounds, falls, or random trauma, such as being crushed.
  • Toxins. Ingestion and / or exposure to toxins and medications is more common in outdoor cats, but can also occur in indoor cats. Common toxins include antifreeze, plant toxicity, ingestion of rat poison, among others.
  • Cardiopathy. Heart disease can come with little or no warning signs. While some cats may have a history of a heart murmur, other cats may not have a history of abnormal symptoms or problems. Some cats will show subtle symptoms, such as playing less, sleeping more, decreased appetite, weight loss, or increased breathing rate. It is very common for cats to be in perfect health, only to show signs of illness quickly and in dire circumstances. Cats with heart disease can develop shortness of breath or difficulty using their hind legs, which can cause them to cry in pain. Some cat owners will simply find their cat dead without any indication of symptoms. The most common heart disease in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) (as discussed above).
  • Heart failure. When heart failure occurs, it means that the heart can no longer meet the normal demands and functions of the body. This commonly causes a buildup of fluid in the lungs known as pulmonary edema. The most common underlying cause of heart failure is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. Signs of heart failure often include a subtle decrease in appetite, decreased participation in normal activities, and an increased rate of breathing. Some cats will breathe so poorly that they appear to gasp with their mouths open, and cats will carefully mask their signs until they are in a state of fulminant and life-threatening heart failure.
  • Myocardial infarction. A "heart attack" is the term commonly applied to people who have suffered a myocardial infarction (MI), often caused by coronary artery disease. The myocardium is the muscle tissue of the heart that receives nutrients and oxygen from the coronary arteries. The coronary arteries are small blood vessels in the heart muscle that carry blood from the aorta, which is the main artery in the body. When the muscle does not receive a normal blood supply, a heart attack occurs.
  • Blood clot. A blood clot, also called a thromboembolism, can be caused by many different health problems, including heart disease in cats. Blood clots can go to the brain, lungs, or blood vessels in the hind legs, causing sudden death in cats.
  • Chronic kidney disease. Chronic kidney failure (CKD) is a very common problem in cats. When the kidneys fail, they can no longer remove the waste products that lead to the accumulation of toxins in the blood. This produces clinical signs of kidney disease including weight loss, decreased appetite, vomiting, and lethargy as kidney disease progresses. Some cats with kidney disease will also have increased thirst and urination. This is more common in older cats, but it can occur at any age.
  • Feline urinary obstruction. Feline urinary obstruction is an acute obstruction of the urinary tract, and although this disease can affect any cat, it is most commonly found in males. The typical signs are urinating and crying. When left untreated, most cats will die within 72 hours.
  • Stroke in Cats. "Stroke" is a term commonly applied to people who have had a cerebrovascular accident (CVA) caused by cerebrovascular disease. A stroke is caused by the interruption of the blood supply to the brain, which precipitates the failure of nerve impulses that are transmitted from the brain to the rest of the body. Symptoms can appear quickly and cause sudden cat death. Signs of a stroke include difficulty walking, weakness, falling to one side, paralysis on one side of the body, and / or seizures.
  • InfectionsSerious infections, commonly known as sepsis, can cause a progressive group of symptoms including lethargy, anorexia, weight loss, dehydration, fever, and sudden death in cats.
  • Shock. Shock is defined as a life-threatening syndrome that causes low blood pressure and can lead to death. This can be caused by an allergic reaction, heart damage, severe infection (sepsis), trauma, blood loss, toxins, fluid loss, and spinal cord trauma. Cats in shock can die quickly, which can present as sudden death.
  • High blood sugar in cats. Serious symptoms caused by uncontrolled diabetes can lead to weakness, lethargy, vomiting, coma, and death.
  • Drop in blood sugar. Low blood sugar, also known as hypoglycemia, can cause lethargy, weakness, seizures, and sudden death. This can be a bad consequence of diabetes, trauma, and / or various infectious diseases.
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy- The heart thickens and hardens, causing it to pump blood normally. Symptoms are: trouble breathing, abnormal heart rhythm, vomiting, and loss of appetite.
  • Heartworm (filariasis): it is a parasitic disease that affects the heart. Sick cats have a cough, vomit, heart failure, and lose weight.
  • Feline immunodeficiency virus: also known as the feline aidsIt is a viral disease that can cause diarrhea, malaise, loss of appetite and weight, gingivitis, among others; however, the cat does not usually show symptoms until the disease is very advanced.
  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP): it is another of the diseases that causes the most deaths in cats. It causes dehydration, loss of appetite and weight, eye discharge and discomfort.

How can it be avoided?

There are many causes of sudden death in cats

Well what you have to know is that the only way to avoid sudden death in cats is to make sure they are well. They must be fed with high quality food (without cereals or by-products), and it is also very important that a antiparasitic treatment so that they are protected against parasites, both external and internal. There are antiparasitic collars that can help you in this section.

In addition, we must take them to the vet every time we suspect that something happens to them, but also to vaccinate them, and castrate them before they have heat.

Compression of Sudden Death in Cats

One of the worst things a pet lover can experience is the sudden loss of your beloved cat. Trying to understand sudden cat death is excruciatingly painful. You want to understand what happened, consider what you could have done differently, and determine if there were health problems that you didn't realize about. Sudden cat death is harder to understand when it happens to a young animal.

Feline life expectancy vs. risk of sudden death

The life expectancy of cats can be 14 to 22 years. There is a substantial difference in life expectancy depending on the individual lifestyle of the cat. Life expectancy can vary depending on whether the cat is indoors only, indoors and outdoors, or outdoors only.

Indoor-only cats have the longest life expectancy, followed by indoor and outdoor cats. 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 receive a nutritious diet and veterinary care that have a very long lifespan.

Sudden death in cats causes a lot of pain to the family

While it is extremely difficult to understand the loss of a beloved cat, especially at a young age, it does happen. Sudden death can also occur in cats, which can be so devastating and make 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.

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  1.   H said

    My cat did not have any of these symptoms and died 3 days ago being completely healthy without giving any symptoms absolutely that nothing will happen to her

    The day before, she was normal, as she always approached me to caress her, she ate as usual, etc ...

    The day she died when I woke up I put wet food on them like every day and she was not alone, the other one was waiting for them to put the food, something totally out of the ordinary because she was the one who came first and also had to make sure that He will not take away the food from the other, so when hers is finished he had to put it away if he tried to eat the other's food, just seeing that he was not there, I got the intuition that something serious was happening to him because it is not normal that She did not come, I called her, I looked for her and found her in the upper part of the loft where the bed was already dying with drool in the mouth and the pupils fully dilated, I went to see what happened to her, she changed places, she lay down, she was breathing with difficulty And it didn't take me a minute to die since I found her like that, in fact I just lay down I breathe like 3 or 4 times with difficulty and then I hit like a cry of pain and stopped breathing and there she stayed

    I did not have time to react because I did not expect it in any way

    When I saw her like this with dilated pupils and evidently in a state that something was wrong with her and the drooling, the first thing that came to my mind is that she had suffered a heat stroke, but because the weather was quite cool because there was It rained, I have also thought about whether a poisoning but it is impossible because he has not been able to eat anything new that he has not been eating for years, or even if he has been bitten by a spider that I also see it unlikely at least one poisonous to kill To a cat..

    I don't even know what could have happened to her, I was completely taken by surprise and now I do nothing but constantly monitor the other and see that she is fine

    As I say, the symptoms that I had do not coincide at all with anything that I have searched on the internet as sudden death, if someone who is a veterinarian or something reads this and can tell me what he thinks has happened to him ...

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello, I'm sorry about what happened to your cat 🙁

      Maybe he had a heart problem, or parasites. Sometimes, unfortunately, the only symptom is the consequence, in this case the death of the animal. As sometimes happens in people too. They are fine, apparently healthy, but one day without further ado they fall to the ground, lifeless. Why? You can't tell, not without performing the autopsy, and yet… even so, sometimes the mystery remains unsolved.

      Much encouragement.

  2.   Adrian Martin said

    Hello, on December 13, a kitten named Lola died.
    It started with diarrhea. I took her to the vet and I took her temperature in her ass, he inserted a thermometer
    And suddenly he died …… I think it was the food… .my mother wanted to buy her adult food at all costs ……… ..The doctor sold me cheap food the second brand of one I still can't believe her I just had 3 months. That is why he died

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Adrian.

      I'm sorry but I can't help you, I'm not a veterinarian.
      Kittens are very vulnerable, and at that age they usually have many problems with intestinal parasites, especially if they were born on the street or if they are the children of uncared for stray cats.

      In any case, we send you a lot of encouragement.

  3.   Leonard Sanchez said

    Hello good day.
    We had a 1-year-old cat, he was home, he was always cared for in the best way, we never saw any symptoms that would indicate that he was sick, the last few days he slept a lot.
    On Sunday I spent the whole day sleeping and without eating I took him to the vet on Monday and he was diagnosed with leukemia, it seems that his blood was very liquid, the doctor told me that it was possible that he had been ill since he was little. That same day they injected him with antibiotics and vitamins. However, he did not show improvement on Tuesday I took him to the vet and he died.

    What I don't understand is why if they were never sick, how could they die so suddenly?
    Thanks for your attention

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Leonard.

      We are very sorry for the loss of your cat. It is very hard when they leave.

      But if it is true that he had leukemia since he was a child, there are cats that seem to be fine ... until they stop.


  4.   annette castle said

    We adopted some kittens 1 month ago, and they told us that they were underweight, we bought them balanced dry and wet food, they recovered but not much, they have 5 doses of deworming and they do not finish throwing away the problem, on Sunday night one of them He got up from my lap and when we realized he was not walking well with his hind legs, he was moving them like a rabbit, the next morning we took him to the Vet, they did plates, he did not present any injury, we returned home and now the front legs are tampco He moved them well, we returned to the vet, I think it could be something neurological, they gave him anti-inflammatory drugs, and vitamins, he was hungry, at the time he was breathing badly, he opened his mouth, and did not emit sounds, back to the vet, they did tests for him. rule out AIDS and feline leukemia, finally they put an oxygen chamber on him, at 11pm he died of cardiac arrest. I still don't know what may have happened to him, just today they would perform a blood count to rule out mycoplasmosis. He died in less than 24 hours, he had barely completed two months. His brother seems to be normal, it really is painful to lose them so little

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Annette.

      Yes, it is very painful. Cheer up.

  5.   Julia said

    Today my dear 9-year-old Ringo woke up in his bed without life, I do not understand him he was never sick and until yesterday his behavior was normal, he was in his bed with his front legs extended, his little head hanging from the bed and his little nose with a little snot, it has left us full of sadness and wondering what happened to him.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Julia.

      We are sorry for the loss of Ringo. It's very hard when, well, when they fall asleep forever ...

      But to find out what could have happened, we recommend consulting a veterinarian, because only he can find the answer to that question.

      A lot of encouragement.

  6.   Claudia said

    Something very strange happened to me with my pussycat 3 days ago, he was 16 and a half years old .. at night I gave him his medicine for pressure type 3 am I said goodbye, he was normal and as always, I went to sleep .. my dad wakes me up at 8 a.m. saying that my kitten died on the living room carpet, he was already with rigor mortis .. I did all the tests about two months ago and they went well, I even did some ultrasounds of his heart, kidneys and liver .. he only had a little of kidney failure due to age and hypertension that was being treated recently .. it left me sad, I will never understand what triggered that sudden death, it was an unexplained death .. he was going to operate on his gingivitis in another month because he was apparently fine .. I'm very sad for my baby, I still don't think so

  7.   zeydi said

    I would like to know what my kitten died of, we found her convalescing without strength as if she fainted, my little sister hugged her but shortly after she got dirty and in a few minutes she had already died, someone could tell me what could have happened to her

  8.   yuli said

    Hello, my cat of 3 months and little has turned up dead suddenly.
    On Friday we went to the vet and they vaccinated him with the second trivalent vaccine, this morning and afternoon he was fine, and a few hours ago we went home the kitten was stiff ...
    We do not know what could have happened, we are not buying it.
    Does anyone know what could have happened to him?

  9.   marcosmx said

    I am Marcos, 52 years old. Reading with great care this very useful contribution I concluded the following: From experience, having enough ignorance of pets and when you are an admirer of kittens, but we are also willing to adopt one, we have to immediately consider that all cases of pussy health they are or were different. The health of the kitten is of primary concern. Even more so if it is small, as it was removed from the mother's milk. The central theme is "Deworming", whatever its state of origin. It is the precautionary measure to preserve the life of the kitten. This will avoid in a high percentage, painful sentimental pictures due to the loss of such great and true companions of life.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi marcos.

      That is: deworming cats is a very important issue, which must be done throughout the life of the animal, whether or not it leaves the house.

      Thank you very much for your comment.

  10.   Alejandra said

    Hello, we had three kittens, the first we took from the street, she was sick and suddenly we found her half dead, and we took her to the veterinary hospital and they did not know how to give us any explanation, like that twice until finally she died. The other two we took from a supposedly healthy litter. One of them convulsed the next day and we had to take her to the hospital because she was half dead. Until suddenly the same thing died. These had symptoms such as swaying when walking, poor appetite, and they slept a lot. But the last one was healthy, she played, ate, ran from here to there, until yesterday I got home and found her dead out of nowhere. I did not present any symptoms and before I left I was the same as always. They were all a month and a half and the same thing has happened to all of them. And nobody has given us any answer.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Alejandra.

      We are sorry for what happened, but we are not vets.
      Maybe they drank or ate something bad, or had parasites. I do not know.

      Likewise, a lot of encouragement.

  11.   Madhavi said

    Before yesterday my beloved Bean Kitten died, she was completely healthy, she lived alone indoors, she ate healthy, she was clean, I saw her 5 minutes before and she was completely normal, I went to the bathroom and under the stairs as always, it did not take more than 2 min and when opening the bathroom door she is lying on the floor without breathing or beating, she died and I couldn't do anything for her, I felt that they changed my dimension, I still can't understand what happened ... it's too painful!

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Madhavi.

      It is very very painful to lose a loved one ... I can only send you a lot of encouragement.
      And I don't know if it will help you, but a couple of years ago when one of my cats died (due to a traffic accident) I took his photo, sat on a chair, closed my eyes and with the photo in my heart I told him everything. felt at that time. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but at the same time the one that served me the most. Maybe it helps you too.

  12.   Paola said

    I rescued 2 kittens on June 15 and the baby died yesterday and the baby died yesterday. Both were healthy and dewormed, this week now it was their turn to visit the vet. With the baby I could see his last breath. Not because they were asleep with the baby and when I went to check them 30 minutes after leaving them asleep it was already cold and dilated pupils. The baby was that he left for a moment when he arrived I saw him lying down and I tried to give him cpr because he felt a slight pulse but he was not breathing. When I gave him CPR, he threw out his last food-smelling breath and I no longer felt the pulse. I continued for 5min or a little more but nothing closed his eyes and released his last tear.

    1.    Paola said

      They had only 1 month and 2 weeks approx.

    2.    Monica sanchez said

      Ugh, how sad. A lot of encouragement Paola. At least they knew the affection and warmth of a home, and that in itself is very positive.

  13.   Harun said


    My kitten also died, but I have strange symptoms, that is, he was born in a "normal state" and that was until he stopped breastfeeding with his siblings, suddenly he appeared with a "paralyzed back" or could not use both hind legs. and a tail, so he had trouble defecating and cleaning, only one day he just stopped eating and in the morning I found him dead and sweaty. It's strange what happened in a month, without even feeling when all the changes were happening. Otherwise, it is a kitten that stays at home, not indoors.

  14.   Sandra said

    I am absolutely devastated because yesterday I had to bury a kitten (I called her Mandarina) from a feline colony that I take care of in my urbanization.

    The night before was perfect, playing with me and running around like always, as well as eating like I used to.

    But in the afternoon I went out to buy and when I got out of the car I found her stiff on the sidewalk. She was only about 3-4 months old and agile and full of life. He had no injuries.

    It will seem silly because she did not live with me, but during the time that I took care of her by putting food on her, I became very fond of her and I can't help crying. The hardest thing is that I don't know what happened. I just want to think that at least it was a sudden death and the poor thing didn't even know about it.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Sandra.

      Very sorry. Cheer up.

  15.   gerty said

    Today my Moon died, she did not reach her second birthday, with her checks and vaccinations up to date, I cannot understand her death. As every morning he accompanied me while I was getting ready to go to work, today it seemed to me that he was scared by something and fell to the floor, I approached to see what was happening, it was not more than a couple of seconds that it took me and that was it. dead, they couldn't do anything for her. I feel devastated, she was my girl, my sweetheart, so happy, so naughty.

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hi Gerty.

      We are very sorry 🙁
      When they leave, just like that, it hurts a lot ...

      A lot of encouragement.

  16.   Miriam Larraga said

    I had Sonic, a beautiful cat of 1 year and 8 months old, orange with medium hair, pachoncito and rebellious, I went on vacation and stayed in his usual boarding house, they only reported that he was very sleepy, but he ate normally, He went to the bathroom normally, he played normally but for less time, he threw water and food as he always did… 10 days like this. We came back and I picked him up on Sunday at noon and he was the same, everything seemed normal, on Tuesday he woke up the same, in the morning he ate little but well because he eats his ration in parts and finishes it before sunset, at 3:30 pm he went to the door to receive my daughter when she returned from work as usual, at 5 pm she drank water as was her favorite way of doing it: straight from the tap... At 7 pm I noticed something strange, looking into a corner, later the same in another corner, then lying at the entrance of my daughter's room, very still... I picked him up and brought him to my room, without him protesting or complaining and that was a bit unusual because if he didn't want to he wouldn't leave or change again of place when I left him on the floor or bed, this time he stayed very still, I put him in his favorite place in my window and he didn't move either... I laid him on my bed and he let himself move as I wanted as if he were a rag, that was not normal either because he hated being manipulated, he always either walked away or took a bite to free himself and leave,he was normal warm and his legs were cold… I called the doctor and he only recommended hydrating him and giving him heat, his temperature was 38°c which they say was normal… Another night I checked him again and he only noticed that he was still lethargic, adynamic, his pupils were on the left slightly larger than the other, her breathing was weak and shallow but with a good rhythm, her heartbeat was normal but slight, apparently due to possible low pressure, her abdomen was soft and depressible with no abnormal signs but no peristaltic activity, no vomiting or diarrhea He didn't drool either... He gave him antibiotics and dexamethasone, he spent the night unchanged, he wanted to get out of my bed and fell out of weakness, when I picked him up he was trying, I think his attempt to get off was to go to the sandbox to urinate and his weakness didn't He let him do it, at night he got out of his bed several times and lay down out of it... He returned it and later he did it again. In the morning I took him to the clinic with another veterinarian recommended by the one who gave him a pension when we went on a trip, so that he hydrated him and did tests and there I felt like the worst nurse, because they pricked him a lot and they couldn't take the sample because of his low blood pressure. , his resistance was weak as well as his reactions… He complained about the punctures and that's why I feel so bad, he stayed for subcutaneous hydration and three hours later they called me, he went into a coma and died at 3 pm just 20 hours later how it all started… I want answers to that collapse that made him catatonic in two hours and he didn't come out to die 20 hours after starting with abnormal signs… I miss you, Sonic!

    1.    Monica sanchez said

      Hello Miriam.
      Don't feel guilty, because it's not your fault.
      You did everything you could, which is a lot.

      We do not know how to tell you what happened to him because we are not veterinarians nor are we there (we are from Spain), but I do tell you that, do not really blame yourself. Stay with the good memories you had with him, and believe me when I tell you that the sorrow, that emptiness you feel when you lose someone so dear, gradually calms down.

      Much encouragement.