The symptoms of a dying cat vary depending on the reason, although common symptoms include lowered heart rate and respiration, decrease in blood pressure and body temperature, anorexia and incontinence. A cat's behavior can also be a sign of imminent death, especially if the cat hides and refuses to eat.
Physical symptoms of impending death include lethargy, lowered respiration and lowered heart rate. A dying cat breathes far less than its normal 20 to 30 times a minute because of a weakening of the lungs. As a result, not nearly enough oxygen reaches the blood, which causes the heart rate and blood pressure to drop as well. Often, a cat wheezes or gurgles as it becomes less able to breathe. As a cat dies, its muscles, including the bladder and sphincter, start to relax and cause incontinence, which also occurs at death.
A dying cat's behavior and appearance also begins to change. It often refuses food and water, resulting in dramatic weight loss. The cat no longer meticulously grooms itself and experiences hair loss and extensive shedding. Its eyes can often become dilated or glaze over right before death. Although a cat can seek out companionship right before death, it can also hide, looking for a cool, dark place to die.