If you are a cat lover, you may have heard about something known as “sudden death” in cats. This is when the pet seems normal, is up to date on shots, eating well, and out of nowhere dies very suddenly for no apparent reason at all. Many cat lovers who know about this syndrome have thought about pet memorials long before their pet may actually die. Some people even purchase a pet urn or keepsake box for their cat to keep just in case.
A frightening experience for anyone, the most common reason for sudden death in cats includes either cardiomyopathy or heartworm disease. Both of these disorders can cause death with very little warning at all. And it can happen fast. A quick jump from a sofa to a chair, and the cat lands in the chair dead. And after autopsy, there may be heartworms in the pulmonary arteries.
Cats are less affected by heartworm disease than dogs, and the exact difference in the rate of infestation varies depending on where you live. But in general it appears to run about 10 percent of the infection rate of dogs in the same vicinity. Merck™ offers a version of their Heartgard (Rx) heartworm preventive, containing ivermectin, for cats. It’s a chewable pill that is available in two dosages; one for cats weighing 5 lbs. or less and one for cats that are 5 to 15 lbs. Administered once a month, on the same day this medicine is for heartworm prevention, and it can also be given to cats already infected with heartworms to prevent introduction of new worms into their cardiovascular systems.
Cardiomyopathy is another disorder that can cause death without warning signs, and it is also the leading cause of anesthetic deaths in cats. There are many other possible problems, though. Cats, just like any other animal, are occasionally born with birth defects that might lead to sudden death, such as aneurysms that rupture suddenly. Then there can be exposure to toxins or poison that sometimes occurs without the cat owner being aware of it. There’s also a dog flea control product containing permethrin that sometimes results in accidental poisoning, however most cats show some clinical signs prior to the time that they die with it.
Often times there is a serious illness with subtle symptoms that their owners and even veterinarians miss. Then there is Toxoplasmosis, feline infectious peritonitis, feline leukemia virus, and chronic kidney failure hemobartonellosis, among other diseases where death seems to happen suddenly.
A post-mortem exam can usually tell us what happened. For people who are really bothered by not knowing what happened, making plans to have a post-mortem examination in advance of the time when their pets die can provide answers, which is comforting in the long run for many people.
Should a sudden death happen to your cat, keep in mind that you can choose from many lovely pet urns, pet grave markers, or simply less expensive pet cremains bags. People have come up with many expressive ways to not only preserve their loved ones cremains, but also to cherish the memory of their beloved pet.