Cat died unexpectedly

by Sherry

Hi my cat died this weekend. I was clipping his nails, he was laying on his side and then all of assuden his front legs went stiff (like stretching but only his front legs) his neck when stiff and his mouth opened. He was like this for like 10 seconds. I scooped him up to take to the vet and he made a quick noise like choking and then he was limp.

I got him to the vet within 10 minutes. They took him away, and came out 3 minutes later and said he was gone. There was no heartbeat, no breathing. Do you know exactly what this episode was? My cat was 16 and losing weight, wasn’t eating much and was due for his annual exam this week :(.

Can a vet ever be wrong about a pet being dead if they are in a coma after a seizure? Can you shed some light on exactly what I witnessed? I’m so heartbroken about this and any help is appreciated.

Dear Sherry,

I am so sorry for your loss. There is no question, from what you described, that your cat had a seizure that caused a clot to be thrown to your cat’s heart, lungs, or brain. In terms of what may have caused a seizure in your cat, it could have been any number of things, including an underlying heart problem that you would not have known existed, a tumor in the brain, or even conditions such as feline hyperthyroidism, which if left untreated can cause heart failure.

Please take comfort in knowing that veterinarians are very well trained to be absolutely sure whether your cat is deceased and not just in a coma. Any veterinarian would be able to easily tell the difference.

I hope you will find some comfort in the fact that your cat lived to a very old age and likely had a very happy life with you. Please also know that this was a quick and painless way for your cat to have passed away. I have had many cats throughout my life, and for those that have gone this way, as shocking as it may be to us, for the cats, it is always better for the cat to go quickly than to linger on and deteriorate.

Unfortunately, the death of our beloved cats is an inevitable part of being a pet owner. I can assure you that you didn’t do anything wrong, and neither did your veterinarian. There was nothing that could have been done to save your kitty. But again, I am so very sorry for your loss.

With deepest condolences,
Dr. Neely