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Dr. Kara
Dr. Kara, Veterinarian
Category: Cat Veterinary
Satisfied Customers: 16923
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian.
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I found my 14 year old cat dead, with her head in a small

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I found my 14 year old cat dead, with her head in a small pool of blood. I'm devastated--she was my little sunshine. She had thyroid disease but had been on prescription food for a couple years and seemed to be doing fine on it--other than that, I thought she was perfectly healthy. Is it possible she had an aneurysm? What would make her bleed so much out of her nose? I would give anything to know that it was quick and she didn't suffer, but it seemed like such a painful scene:(
JA: I'm sorry to hear that. What is the cat's name?
Customer: Boy
JA: Is there anything else the Veterinarian should be aware of about Boy?
Customer: I don't think so-she was healthy beyond the thyroid stufff, as far as I knew...

Hello, I'm Dr. Kara. I have over 20 years of experience as a veterinarian and I'd like to help. Please give me a moment to review your concerns.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.

My deepest condolences on your loss, of course you are understandably devastated to find Boy that way.

Part of the grieving process is asking why things occurred, so I hope I can help.

A severe, sudden allergic reaction is one possible cause of sudden respiratory distress and bleeding into their respiratory tract. Animals with such a severe reaction will often have hives, facial swelling, swelling of the tissues around and in the pharynx, vomit, can have diarrhea and can collapse. This would be highly unusual, but possible.

The most common cause of sudden death in cats is heart failure and collapse due to throwing a clot from undiagnosed heart disease, usually cardiomyopathy. Cardiomyopathy is a primary heart muscle disease which can be a silent killer. Cats with cardiomyopathy can appear to be normal, they will compensate for their heart disease for a period of time and when failure occurs it can be very sudden. In retrospect owners may report that their cat was slightly less active but that they assumed that was an age related sign rather then a sign of heart disease. Radiographs of the heart may look completely normal. The only good way to diagnose the disease is with an ultrasound of the heart, called an echocardiogram. Some cats with hyperthyroidism can develop secondary cardiomyopathy, often along with hypertension, which could lead to a blood clot being thrown or a bleeding episode in the brain or lungs leading to sudden death.

Another cause of sudden difficulty breathing due to pulmonary edema is biting an electrical cord. Those cats should have signs of a burn on the gums or tongue. This is much more common in kittens then adult cats.

Other rare cases of pulmonary edema and difficulty breathing are pancreatitis, systemic bacterial infections or cancer.

A previously undiagnosed, ruptured, bleeding tumor in her abdomen or chest could also cause the symptoms that you saw. We see this more in dogs then in cats though.

Please don't think that you did anything to harm your girl. I believe that she probably had undiagnosed heart disease with or without hypertension, that led to sudden death. It is horrible for you as you had no time to process her being sick, let alone her death, but please take comfort in knowing that she didn't suffer with a long painful illness and it sound like she enjoyed a wonderful life with you until the end.

Please let me know if you have any further questions.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you for this-it's very helpful. One more question- i've heard that if a cat senses she's dying, she goes into hiding. Boy was in the middle of the hallway, where she never goes except to head to the living room to hang out or eat. Does this indicate the death was likely sudden? And would it be any less likely to be painful or scary that way? Thanks again so so much.

Cats do often hide or secrete themselves away when they don't feel well, if they have the time to do so.

The fact that she was out in the open makes it very, very likely that this happened in an instant and she had no time to process what was going on. That means that she very likely was not aware of what happened and did not suffer. I suspect that she was mentally unaware when she passed away.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you-I know we can never know for sure. This gives me some peace of mind, and I can only hope she didn't feel afraid or abandoned when it happened. I really appreciate your time:)
Customer: replied 1 month ago.

You are very welcome, she was lovely, such a plush coat. From your description I would doubt that she was aware of much beyond feeling woozy and passing out. Tough on you to find her, but not so bad for her.

Customer: replied 1 month ago.
Thank you very, very much:)

I am glad I could help, take care.

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