Most of you must have heard the famous saying (better to say myth) that cats know their death, and they suddenly disappear just before their end. Though hiding is typical behavior in cats when they want to sleep, play or ambush prey. In captivity, many cats die in front of their grieving guardians. So, is the above saying just a myth, or is there any truth in it?
In addition to the reasons for cats’ hiding mentioned above, cats generally hide when sick. And, if your cat has a natural death, he will feel a bit sick before it happens.
Generally, cats select a cool, calm, safe, disturbance-free, and low-traffic place. That’s why most guardians get the impression that their cat has vanished. Let’s figure out why cats hide when they are sick or about to die.
In the wild cat has to protect himself from many predators. A sick, weak, and less active animal is an easy predator target. So, when they are sick, cats in the wild prefer to spend most of their time in secure places (to protect themselves from predators).
The instinct also expresses itself in captivity. Your cat may hide when he thinks he is more vulnerable to predators. It’s usually due to sickness, limb pain, or other body parts.
Unlike dogs, cats are not pack animals and live independently in the wild. Though we love our cats and make every effort to make their lives easier, they instinctively believe that seeking assistance from others will not benefit them.
So, following their wild solitary instinct, they will try to hide before their weakness (due to sickness or any other reason) become noticeable. We know cats are amazingly good at masking their disease or pain, even if they don’t hide. To detect their illness timely, the guardians must observe their behavior keenly.
Learn: 10 Signs of Illness in Cats
This point may not apply to domestic cats that get readily available food; however, it applies to wild cats that struggle to find food. Since sick or old wild cats find it difficult to hunt, their bodies become weak due to the lack of energy. So, hiding in a place that keeps them from unnecessary interferences helps them conserve energy to perform necessary routine tasks.
Do Cats Know Their Death is Comming?
The first part of the myth, “cats hide before dying,” is partially true, and the second part, “cats know their death,” is entirely wrong. As discussed above, cats’ wild instinct makes them hide when sick; however, their illness does not necessarily end in death.
Most cats (especially young cats or cats in captivity that get good medical care) recover within a few days and lead to everyday life. Some cats (especially older ones) may fall victim to their illness while hiding, making people believe that if a cat hides, it means he is going to die.
Does a Lost Cat Always Mean They are Dying?
No, it does not necessarily mean he will die if you can’t see your feline friend for a while. Remember that hiding is the feline’s instinct, and they may use it to play with their owners. In addition to the reasons mentioned above, cats may hide when they are afraid of something, nervous, or stressed. An introverted or unsocialized cat may hide when guests are at home.
Furthermore, whatever the reason, your cat doesn’t necessarily be hiding somewhere away from home. It could be any place in your house where he feels comfortable and secure, like empty boxes, in the garage or store room, under the sofa, table, or car, and on top of cupboards.
Though cats may not sense their death, they realize something is wrong with them when they are sick. In addition, they instinctively know that they need to hide in a secure place to protect their lives because they can’t defend themselves as actively as before. This wild instinct also prevails in domestic cats. So it would be best to closely observe your cat’s behavior to detect any illness before it’s too late.