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My sick cat disappeared almost 2 months ago. Before that she vomited, she was shaking, she slept a bit longer, she was moving one leg uncontrollably and she didn't wanted to eat. I remembered that she actually came close to her bowls of food and water, but i don't know why she didn't eat. I searched for her around my house, i put food outside, i called her... it looks like she is not close to our home. What are the chances that she will return home? She is 10 years old. I don't understand how she just disappeared. Maybe some of my neighbours took her... I'm so sad and confused. I really need advice. I miss her

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    I am not a vet so I'm expressing what is only a possibility. I had a dog with a brain tumor. As it grew, she lost her appetite (no vomiting), had trouble walking (she was unsteady), wasn't using one of her legs normally, and seemed confused. She also trembled (I think she was anxious.) The symptoms appeared and progressed very quickly. There are only a few things I can think of that would cause the grouping of symptoms you listed, and the leg moving uncontrollably is a red flag for something in the nervous system. I'm sorry I'm not more encouraging. Commented Dec 13, 2023 at 18:59
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    Yike. That sounds a lot like what happened to one of my cats. She had a hormone imbalance that was causing severe vomiting and weight loss as well as a heart defect that possibly contributed to anoxia and brain damage. Unfortunately, being missing for that long with the health concerns you describe, it is likely you won't see her again. It's been two years and I still miss my girl terribly. 🤗
    – Matthew
    Commented Dec 14, 2023 at 23:10
  • Is she chipped or is there any other way to identify her?
    – jcaron
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 13:13

1 Answer 1

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I am sorry to say this, but it is possible that the cat retreated in order to find a quiet spot away from her core territory for passing away.

This is instinctive behavior, and while it might seem counter-intuitive that the cat would leave the safety of your home if it feels that it is terminally ill and close to passing, the motivation behind it is that as a predator, the cat knows a dead body will attract potentially dangerous scavengers.

In order to protect you and the family, it might have retreated from home in order to not attract scavengers to where you live.


Another possibility, especially if the cat does not have a microchip, is that a homeowner or passerby did indeed pick it up a bit away from where you live and they couldn't find the owner.

Personally, if I see a cat with symptoms as you describe, I'll definitely pick it up and bring it to the nearest vet for treatment.

If the owner can't be found, I'd ask around the area where I found it if I'm dealing with a known stray that can be released to its territory once it has recovered, and if that is not the case I'll try the local "lost pet" social media groups.

I'd suggest calling all the local vets in a somewhat wider radius (e.g. 20km or so) and check if a non-chipped cat with unknown owner was brought in since the time of her disappearance, see if someone posted a found cat in social media groups, etc.

In some countries, municipal lost+found offices will also accept records of found pets with unknown ownership status, as a precursor to the finder having legal ownership transferred to them after a waiting period where the owner does not come forward and claims their pet (in my country, this is 6 months).

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    I'll note that cats isolate when they're sick, but it's not really specific to cats that are dying. So, part of it is just isolating to recover safely (then being too sick to return). The idea that your home isn't safe feels weird, but human homes tend to be a bit noisy (TV, humans talking, etc.). Many animal welfare groups discourage the, "cats run off to die alone" story in favor of, "cats are too sick to return" story. Mind you, such sources are biased: animal welfare groups prefer messaging which encourages owners to proactvely handle pet illness.
    – Brian
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 14:56
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    @Brian Good points, plus we have to consider that cats are generally not aware of modern medical care, so what a sick cat judges is terminal illness might very well be an issue that can be resolved easily by an injection or surgery.
    – bgse
    Commented Dec 15, 2023 at 18:59
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    Can you provide any reference for your claims? The proposed motivation is indeed counter-intuitive.
    – LoremIpsum
    Commented Dec 16, 2023 at 1:48
  • @LoremIpsum: Are you asking me or bgse? If you're asking me, numerous vets post this information on their websites. E.g., Sunset Vet Clinic and Everhart Vet.
    – Brian
    Commented Dec 18, 2023 at 14:19
  • @Brian, I was asking bgse, who basically claims that the animal is trying to protect his owners from his dead body scavengers. Like, an irrational animal wants to protect another species from the side-effects of his death? C'mon. Your links say something else, that the animal wants to avoid predators so it gets better chances to recover. I think that and your hypothesis of home being kinda stressful (e.g. small pets being always alert to get out of the way so as to not be stepped on by the human) is much more reasonable. The one stated in the answer? More about nonsense.
    – LoremIpsum
    Commented Jan 5 at 14:49

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