When the end comes, it can be rapid, as though a clockwork motor has run down. Very old cats settle into a routine which reflects their capabilities. It seems important for a cat to maintain its dignity to a degree greater, even, than that of many other animals. This can be extremely difficult when the efficacy of bodily functions is being challenged by old age. A few elderly cats are distressed by the loss of vital sensory equipment through deafness or blindness. Grooming becomes difficult as flexibility is reduces, and incontinence may occur, both of which can upset the naturally fastidious cat.
Your cat may die in its sleep but this does not happen often. If, however, it is suffering from ailments that give it chronic pain or prevent it from responding to its natural instincts, you need seriously to consider how kind it is to keep it alive. A vet can end an animals’ life painlessly on the request of its owner. The cat is injected with an overdose of anesthetic which literally puts it to sleep. Many vets will allow you to be present for your pet’s last moment, if you wish. Others can only advise, the owner must make the decision, except in exceptional circumstances when the vet takes responsibility. Euthanasia can be regarded as a final gift to an animal that has shared your life.
What is mourning? The natural lifespan of a cat is a fraction of human life expectancy, and yet a cat may be a day to day companion over a significant section of your life, such as your entire childhood. When your cat dies, you may consider burying it in the garden, in a favored snoozing spot, for instance. If not, there are pet cemeteries where cremation or burial can be carried out.
There will be inevitably be a period of mourning which may, initially at least, feel as intense as it would for a member of your human family. This is quite normal. You have lost a member of the family and a very special one. This is the little furry body that snuggles up to you when you were feeling ill, depressed or annoyed. You will remember the rumbling purr of greeting and trust, and the times when you could not express your feelings to anyone else but the little cat that listened and soothed you into eventually finding a solution. A cat grows old with dignity and favors warm spots such as the top of the stove, but beware of the danger a hot stove may present.