Sudden death in cat

Anne_Marie_AlbJanuary 21, 2009

Not my cat, but still upsetting (and Elly, I apologize from bringing up Sofie's memory)!! This is a cat at the shelter where I volunteer. Last Tuesday morning, they found that cat dead. He was just fine before, and certainly fine the last time I saw him (the Thursday before). Probably 3 years old, somewhat thin, male. He had been at the shelter for about a month. He was there before, was adopted and returned recently. Active, loving, affectionate cat. He came from the same 'situation' (43 cats rescued from an apartment, probably all interbred) as the other 3 cats I adopted in 2008, and was the spitting image of my most recently adopted cat. This saddened me a great deal, but I am also concerned for my 3, as there could be some bad genes.

Possible reasons for a sudden death? Heart problems, untreated heartworms... anything else?

I hesitated posting (especially as nothing can be done), but something keeps haunting me. A student artist has been coming to draw cats, and I just realized pastel crayons are toxic to cats. Our cats LOVE to play with pens, pencils. We simply have to hide them all as they carry them all around. IF (and I know this is a big IF) that cat had got into one of those crayons, could the reaction have been fatal? Apparently, the staff did not find anything unusual -like throw up for example (but they have so many cats!!), and, maybe, they tried not to upset me.

Anyway, just wandering,


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I'm sorry; it's such a shock when something like this happens.

We had that happen recently at one of the clinics where I volunteer, taking care of cats awaiting their forever homes. Fire died suddenly, and the post-mortem showed she had a pleural effusion - excess fluid in the sac around her lungs - that probably led to heart failure. She ate and played well - and then this happened.

It's extremely upsetting for everyone as we tend to get attached to the cats and kittens in our care but some of them don't make it. We try to do the best for them while they are with us, and that is all we can do.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 5:30PM
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What a shock! One of my neighbors had this happen...She got up in the morning and her fur baby was laying in the kitchen, having died during the night...And another friend, a volunteer with the rescue organization I'm with, had one of her fur babies suddenly let out a terrible cry and then die...This really, really shook up this poor girl...It seems both had died from heart related problems and there was no warning or preventive....Such a shame!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 6:11PM
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Thank you, Pranjal! Yes, it is a terrible thing to see a cat die like this before they can find a home. I read about pleural effusion. There would seem that there might be some clinical signs (labored breathing, coughing), but of course, in a crowded shelter, that might go unnoticed! I certainly did not notice anything during my interaction with him.

Irishdancersgram, thank you for your response. Heart failure was also my first thought. All I can say is that it would be a peaceful way to go for the cat's point of view only!

Anyone who would know how toxic pastel crayons (used in drawings/ esquisses by artists) might be?

Many thanks again,

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 8:00PM
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Our neighbros cat had a sudden heart attack in the middle of a jump....never got to land on her feet. Died in mid happens

    Bookmark   January 21, 2009 at 8:13PM
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Years later, the sudden death of my beloved cat still replays in my mind. She was 15 and seemed in excellent health. In the middle of the night she screamed suddenly from where she was sleeping at the end of my bed. By the time I jumped up and threw on some clothes and called the emergency vet to come in, she was in shock, then died--all of 5 minutes. As far as anyone could tell, it was a heart issue. It is upsetting!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 6:45AM
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I have never heard that about crayons -- are you talking about the regular Crayola type? Why only pastels? I have two yound kids and crayons are all over my house -- I can't say my cat ever bothers with them though. Maybe if one was rolling he'd bat it around but I doubt he'd eat it.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2009 at 8:48AM
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Stirfryi, pastels are a kind of art chalk, not wax crayons. Pastels are sticks of ground pigment mixed with chalk and gum or oil, any of which are not good kitty treats! Many of the pigments used can be poisonous from their source.

Anne Marie, it is so heartbreaking to lose any animal you have made a bond with, but the same as people, it is just their time. It could have been a blood clot or aneurysm or heart problem. Just keep your cats healthy and make sure to do regular checkups at the vet. You will probably never know, but just know that you now have a furry angel watching over you.

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 3:01AM
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The tip about the pastels is good. There is a web page from ASPCA that lists things that can be toxic to dogs and cats.

Thanks to this site, I got rid of my peace lily FAST. I think it's worthwhile to review regularly, to keep our furbabies safe.

Here is a link that might be useful: ASPCA Toxins to pets

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 8:52AM
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Thank you Trekaren for posting the list of toxic plants. Also, thank you Michelle about your info on crayons Vs. pastels (art crayons). Good info.
I was away from the computer for a while, and I just now have a chance to respond.
stir_fryi, here is another link to safety of crayons for kids: Art & Creative Materials Institute
And here is a site listing many common household toxic products to cats (including pastels: art crayons, hence my concerns).
That list might be worth posting on your fridge, as a precaution.

Michelle, yes, I'll never know. But I will keep a close watch (I always do, anyway) on my three 2008 shelter cats as they come from the same situation as the cat who died (43 cats poorly cared for and assumed to be mostly interbred). I learned yesterday from a staff member at the shelter that another of these cats had also died suddenly... and that was not related to pastel crayons!
Thanks again everyone for your help,

    Bookmark   January 23, 2009 at 11:08AM
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FIP could be the cause, especially considering these cats came from a very multi-cat household and probably are related- ie similar immunity to feline coronavirus. If they were not vaccinated, panleukopenia is a possibility as well. Other possibilities are the previously mentioned heartworms and various toxins. The cats could also have hypertrophic cardiomyopathy which tends to run in families (usually Maine Coon cats, but any breed can be affected).

I'm so sorry about these poor kitties. At least they have had a chance for a new life. And thank you for adopting from a shelter as well.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2009 at 1:18PM
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Thanks for that information, Meghane. I checked their records, and my 3 were vaccinated for Panleukopenia (multiple vaccines under the name of distemper). Only one was vaccinated for FIP. Will have to check with the shelter.
Thanks again, Anne-Marie

    Bookmark   January 26, 2009 at 11:50AM
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HI at 8pm est feb 4th 2011, my cat Socks was bugging me while i was taking a nap on the couch, AS he always did. he would jump up, get behind my legs and i would pet him untill we both went to sleep, well after a few minutes he let out a growl that turned into a moan,and had his legs stiff as lf he were stretching. and then went limp in my hands i tried some CPR and he did breath 1 or 2 breaths but he was gone... he was 13 years old and in very good health. IT WAS A BIG SHOCK.. he and i realy bonded after my 16 year old cat Tigger died from cancer 8 months ago. comming home to not find him at the door was a reality check. can anyone else describe the samething.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:49AM
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When I saw my original post re-surface, I just knew the "Sudden Death syndrome" had struck again...

I am soooo sorry Dale about Socks.. All I can say is that you "saw" what happened and that you know it was so fast that Socks did not suffer, and he was right with you enjoying a bonding moment.. This what you need to remember, besides all the wonderful memories that you must have accumulated through his relatively long life! It is heartbreaking to think you lost 2 beloved friends within the past 8 months!

There was another sudden death at our shelter (an older male tiger , very affectionate) a couple of months ago.. He died alone, without knowing the warm feeling of a 'home'.. Socks was lucky to have you!

My heart goes out to you,

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:48AM
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I'm very sorry for your loss, Dale. Your description reminds me of stories I've read about cats that throw blog clots. Some pass quickly, some not. I hope it can be a little comfort knowing he was with his favorite person at the moment of his passing.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 7:55PM
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Dale, almost the same exact thing happened with my cat Spring. She was the same age and had never had a sick day in her life. Heart attack...blood clot? Not sure, but it happens. I know it's hard and a terrible shock, especially after losing your other cat this past year, but, a good life and a sudden ending. Probably best for him, hard on us. You have my sympathy.

    Bookmark   February 7, 2011 at 1:14AM
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My dearest cat has passed away so suddenly after playing with me. without any sign at all. We found her in hard breathing and laid down on the floor. We bring her to the nearest doctor immediately, but she passed away in my arm. What a shock to know that I cannot do anything to help her. The doctor checked all over her body and cannot find the sign of poison or any injuries. The doctor told me that probably it's a heart attack. It's hard for me to face the truth that she's gone. She looked very pretty at the last time I saw her alive.

    Bookmark   February 10, 2011 at 1:30AM
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may 27th at about 1230am i lost a really good friend. and ive been searching for answers everywhere as to why. i found this forum and wanted to share my story. his name was oreo and he was only 5 yrs old. i came home that evening,to him sitting near his food bowl empty. got him the food. went back into the kitchen to find him do a little scurry across the floor. i wasnt really worried at first until i bent down to pet him to see what the problem was and ran into my living room then laid down on his side stretch out all his legs and let out a loud moan meow then it looked like he had trouble breathing and that he was having a siezure. i though he may have been choking i didnt know how to react so i stuck my fingers in his mouth and there was nothing. then his tongue was out of his mouth and i looked at his chest and saw he wasnt breathing anymore. my other cat nudged him with her head then walked away. for some reason i thought more could be done i took him to the emergency vet. but i knew he was already gone. i didnt know that autopsy could be done on animals they didnt offer it to me. does any one have a similar story and know what might have caused this to happen? i can't get this out of my head i relive it everyday and just wonder.

    Bookmark   June 12, 2011 at 6:42PM
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My daughter had just returned after being away for a week. Her cat had died suddenly as well. Sadly a cat will do that when they think their owner has left them. It was the first time they were apart.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2011 at 11:41AM
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After 14 years my first cat named Casper female died suddenly I came home from volunteering and their she was on the floor on the carpet and partly on the kitchen flooring next to the food dish not moving. The only thing different in her behavior recently she had been lying near her food dish in my apartment kitchen area.

    Bookmark   August 9, 2011 at 9:09PM
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