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Home > Cats > Do Cats Run Away From Home to Die? Vet-Reviewed Facts

Do Cats Run Away From Home to Die? Vet-Reviewed Facts

Cat running away from home

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Reviewed & Fact-Checked By

Dr. Marta Vidal-Abarca

Veterinarian, BVSc GPCert (Ophthal) MRCVS

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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You likely have heard many stories and myths about cats, like they have nine lives, always land on their feet, and can give you bad luck. Another common rumor is that cats run away to die, but is this true?

The short answer is no, most cats do not run away from home to die. Keep reading as we look into this misconception and what might be going on during a cat’s last few days so you can better understand your pet.


Do Cats Run Away From Home to Die?

Fortunately for many of us, cats do not run away from home when they are about to die. There are no scientific studies that indicate that cats can predict the future or know exactly when they will die.

American Polydactyl cat walking outside
Image by: Jenny Margarette, Shutterstock

The 3 Reasons People Think Cats Run Away From Home

1. Conserving Energy

One of the first signs that your cat is approaching their last days is that they are sleeping more frequently to conserve energy and fight their illness if they are sick. It may be challenging to notice this because cats spend so much time sleeping, anyway, but you will also notice that your cat moves around less in the house.

2. Seeking Comfort

The reason that the rumor that cats run away from home is so persistent likely has to do with the strange behavior that many cats exhibit in their last days. Many experience a significant amount of pain before they die, and anxiety might accompany it. This might make even normally shy cats seek out the attention of family members for warmth and comfort. Your cat may be attempting to tell you that they’re not feeling well.

3. Seeking Shelter

Unfortunately, even when your cat is seeking your attention and attempting to tell you that they’re not feeling well, sleep is likely the only time that they feel any comfort, and they will probably spend most of their time doing that. Although they may not know that they’re going to die, they likely know that they’re sick and vulnerable to predators. If they’re an outside cat, they will likely seek out an extremely safe place to rest, where they can spend several days resting and trying to kick the illness.


What If My Cat Doesn’t Go Outdoors?

Cat inside house looking out the window
Image by: rebecaml, Pixabay

If you have an indoor cat, the best thing to do is talk with your vet about sparing your pet from the pain and suffering that often accompanies an animal’s final days. If left alone, your cat will likely go through the seeking comfort phase and will attempt to enter the seeking shelter phase. They might try to find a remote area in the house to hide and may even try to escape. The reason they might try to hide from you is that your cat likely feels like they need to rest, possibly for days, and they just want to be alone.

Things to Remember
  • It’s important to discuss with your vet the proper time to euthanize your pet before they are experiencing extreme pain or unnecessary suffering.
  • One sign that your cat is sick is a messy appearance because the cat will stop grooming themselves and may also urinate and defecate on themselves.
  • Many illnesses can cause organs to shut down, causing extreme weakness. It will be the cat’s instinct to sleep as much as possible to try to save energy.
  • If the cat lives or spends a great deal of time outdoors, they will seek out safe areas away from predators to get the rest that they need.
  • Indoor cats may hide from you and other family members who are disturbing their sleep.
  • Even a friendly cat may act aggressively if bothered during this time.
  • Once the cat finds the perfect isolation spot, they are unlikely to leave.
  • Since terminally ill cats are sleeping so much, they are unlikely to eat, drink, or use the litter box, which is when most owners realize that their cats are going to die.
  • Some cats pass away peacefully in their sleep, but you shouldn’t wait for this to happen. Speak to your vet if you feel that your cat is dying to avoid unnecessary suffering.


Final Thoughts

It’s easy to see how people may think that cats know when they will die and will head out to be away from others when the time comes. Unfortunately, there is no real evidence that felines can see their fate. It’s more likely that the cat is instinctively seeking comfort upon realizing that they need a safe place to rest and heal. Their behavior isn’t much different than when they are suffering non-life-threatening illnesses or injuries.

We hope that you have enjoyed reading this short guide and found the answers to your questions.

Featured Image Credit: Daniel_Nebrada, Pixabay

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