Categories: death

Unwillingness to eat: a classic sign that a cat is dying of old age

People search for signs that their cat is dying of old age. I have just read about a 31-year-old Maine Coon cat living in England. The Daily Mail reported his death of old age yesterday. His name was Rubble. He lived with Michele and her husband. She describes his death which I think is instructive as a guide as to how elderly cats who do not have an apparent chronic illness die of old age.

He grew old very quickly towards the end. I said to my husband at Christmas that I think it would be the last time we spend with Rubble. He had started to stop eating and only drank water. He became very thin. I went to work as usual and when I got home my husband said Rubble had gone over the road as he did every day and never came back. So we believe he off to die as cats do.

Michele and Rubble.

He basically stopped eating. And he stopped going to his favourite places to sleep. I can remember the moment I decided to euthanise my elderly female cat many years ago. She was dying of chronic kidney disease but at one point in the morning she simply didn’t want to eat and looked up at me. I took that as a sign that the end had come. It was clear to me.

I think that an unwillingness to eat despite there being no barrier to it (e.g such as oral health issues) other than old age is a good sign that your cat is near the end of her life. It makes you wonder whether it is an instinctive way for a domestic cat to end their life. Perhaps they know that it is the end and not eating hastens their exit from the world.

There is another issue. It is quite possible that Rubble was in discomfort and perhaps in pain. Michele wouldn’t necessarily know because it wouldn’t be apparent. This may be a driving force for a cat to end their life by not eating. Of course he lost weight quite rapidly.

This change in appearance is also quite noticeable as a sign that a cat is nearing the end of their life. They become frail-looking and of course the loss of weight changes their appearance. They may hide more and become quite weak.


I would like briefly to talk about Rubble. He is described as the world’s oldest cat when he died at age 31. He was a ginger-and-white tabby Maine Coon according to Michele. He was given to her on her 20th birthday. She puts down his longevity to their continuous and close relationship throughout his life. She says that she treated him like a child. Michele has not had a child. Rubble was not recorded by the Guinness World Records as the oldest cat because Michele did not want to go down that route.

PS-I’m not sure that Rubble is actually a Maine Coon cat but I won’t harp on about that. He doesn’t look like one. But he looks fantastic. What a life. Such a good, long life, full of love.

Michael Broad

Hi, I'm a 71-year-old retired solicitor (attorney in the US). Before qualifying I worked in a many jobs including professional photography. I have a girlfriend, Michelle. I love nature, cats and all animals. I am concerned about their welfare.

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