Do cats leave home to die?

One of the most difficult situations pet owners have to face is to see the pet dying. We know that death is a fact of life. We know that one day the pet would be gone from our lives forever. In spite of this fact, it would still be very difficult to let go. Watching a dying pet would be a heartrending situation. Some cats would leave home to die. Can it be possible that the pet would want to spare the owners from the anguish of watching them slowly fade away?

Some animals really do leave home to die. Elephants are known to be one of the animal species that have death rituals. Dying elephants would isolate themselves from the herd to seek out burying grounds. Leaving home to die is noticed in dogs too but this behavior is more common in cats. Why do cats leave home and hide from the human companions to die?

Every cat is different. While some cats would purposely seek the company of humans when seriously injured or when ailing, others would intentionally hide. Companion cats that have bonded closely with their owners would want to be cared for by the human companions during their last hours. Cats with this kind of personality would be extra affectionate so that they often die in the arms of the owners. Other cats would leave home. Oftentimes, cat parents would think that the pet was lost until the body is found. What reasons do dying cats have to distance themselves from their owners?

Cats are stoic when it comes to pain. These animals have admirable endurance. Injured cats have the tendency to hide in dark corners to nurse the injury on their own. This behavior is not unlike human’s tendency to go to a hospital when sick. Cats are self-reliant animals…they can manage on their own. However, the injury can worsen causing the cat to die. A dying cat would be weak. Leaving home can be an act of self-preservation. Injured or sick cats would instinctively hide because they are at their weakest and they do not have the capability to defend themselves from their predators. Leaving home to die can be the cat’s noble act. Cats are solitary animals but feral cats are known to stay in groups. Cats would instinctively know that they are dying. The scent of the carrion would not fail to draw the attention of predators. Leaving home to die in another area is the cat’s way of saving the other cats from the possible attack of predators. Cats, as mentioned are solitary animals but because of domestication, these animals have bonded closely with humans. Cats may have the idea that leaving home is the only way to protect the human friends. Cats may think that humans, just like other cats would be in danger from predators. Cats are not aware that rotting carcass can result to the spread of disease. Cats would not know that hygiene demands that the carrion must be removed from the area where other cats (and humans) congregate. Leaving home to die therefore can be instinctive.

Various studies on feline behavior have been done but it was never proven that cats have emotions. Most cat parents though believe that their pets have feelings. Cat parents have noted instances when the pet would show human-like sadness or happiness. Cat parents would attest that their pets have shown them caring behaviors. While these occurrences can be attributed to pet parents’ tendency to anthropomorphize, it is also possible that cats and other domestic animals really do have emotions. It is possible that a dying cat that leaves home to die alone would want to spare the human family from the anguish of watching the pet take its last breath.

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