How Long Does Rigor Mortis Last In Cats?

How Long Does Rigor Mortis Last In Cats?

Cats are one of our closest friends. No one can see them in miserable states.

But if unfortunately, your cat is dead, one of the ways to determine the present condition as well as the time of death is the phenomenon of rigor mortis. 

The stiffness of muscles and tissues after death in animals as well as human beings is rigor mortis. 

Rigor Mortis starts after 2 to 3 hours of death and lasts almost 36 to 48 hours but in some cases, it is noticed that it lasts up to 72 hours.

What Rigor Mortis Is? 

Rigor Mortis in Cat
Rigor Mortis in Cat

The stiffness of muscles and tissues after the death of cats is called rigor mortis. Its second name is postmortem rigidity.

This process is governed by nature and affects almost all animals (more precisely mammals).

When a cat dies the chemical nature of his muscles changes due to death.

This change in chemical nature leads to stiffness of muscles and tissues and causes rigidity. 

After death, for a specific time, the body of cats remains unrigged but after that, the body starts to become rigid and muscles stiffen.

This rigidness lasts for a while and then ends.

Rigor mortis is one of the basic and important signs of death.

Why does Rigor Mortis occur in Cats?

The one and the only cause of rigor mortis is death. Except for death, there is no other cause that leads to this phenomenon and affects animals. So rigor mortis is a crystal clear sign of death.

Whenever a cat dies every cell in his body dies.

As we know the cells are the factories of energy (in the form of ATP) in living animals, as these factories stop working there is no energy in the body.

But on the other hand relaxation and extraction of muscles require a decent amount of energy to be executed.

After the death of cells, muscle and tissues stiffen and the movement of muscles stop at all called rigor mortis.

Death of cells leads to a situation called imbalance because the exchange of energy between cells and muscles stops. Due to zero energy calcium ions (present in muscles) start to interact with actin and myosin which further leads to stiffness.

As we discussed, rigor mortis appears at a specific time after death and also disappears, the cause of its disappearance is as simple as you can imagine.

Rigor Mortis disappears at a point when myosin binds with ATP present in any part of the animal’s body. 

Different Stages Of Rigor Mortis

There are three stages of rigor mortis as discussed below:

1. Pallor Mortis

The paleness in the skin of animals after death is called pallor mortis. It occurs because the circulation of blood stops after death.

We can’t see this type of rigor mortis in cats due to their hair. But in human beings, this type of rigor mortis can be observed easily.

2. Algor mortis

This is the 2nd type of Rigor Mortis in which the temperature of the body falls up to the range which is noticeable enough easily that by simply touching the cat’s body you can feel the difference. 

3. Rigor Mortis

By passing these two stages it is the main stage and is the topic of our discussion. In Rigor Mortis the muscles and tissues stiffen.

For How Many Hours Rigor Mortis Lasts in Cats?

Rigor Mortis lasts almost 36 to 48 hours but in some cases, it is noticed that it lasts up to 72 hours. 

After the death of a cat, his/her body remains almost flexible for up to 2 or 3 hours, after this body tissues and muscles start to stiffen. 

For how many hours the phenomenon of rigor mortis lasts in cats depends upon various conditions and factors.

It depends upon the body temperature of the cat at the time of death. It also depends upon the environmental temperature.

It depends upon the weight and muscle mass of a cat and also depends upon the fact that what was the cause of death. 

How To Tell How Long A Cat Has Been Dead?

Unfortunately, if you found your cat deceased outside or somewhere inside your own house you can estimate the time of death in the past by seeing the present condition of your cat.

If you feel that your cat is in the phase of rigor mortis, you can guess that she or he had died somewhat one or two days in the past.

 But if the conditions look like the body is flexible and you can smell unpleasant then your cat had died somewhat 3 or 4 days in the past. You smell unpleasant due to the decomposition process which starts 2 to 3 days after the death of a cat.

 Moreover, the decomposition process depends upon the environmental conditions as well as the physical condition of the dying one.

How Long A Cat Remains Warm After Death? 

After the death of cats, the processes happening inside the body stop which causes an imbalance condition because the temperature of a cat’s body is due to the inside happening this imbalance between the body and surroundings leads to the change in temperature of the dead body.

Due to this change, the temperature of the dead body reduces and becomes exactly equal to that of the environmental temperature.

But this fall in temperature isn’t sudden, this is a gradual change, and depends upon various factors such as the weight of the dead body and temperature at the time of death. 

What Should I Do If My Cat Dies At Home?

How To Buried A Cat?
How To Buried A Cat?

Unfortunately, if it happens then first of all make sure that your cat is no more. Don’t handle the whole situation on your own and try to take assistance.

 Pick up two or more plastic bags and wrap those bags around your cat. If you have other cats in the house, let her/him smell the deceased one.

It is most important that by smelling she/he will understand that her/his friend is no more. Finally, you can bury your cat or contact your vet for cremation services. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can You Conclude? A Cat Is Dead But Not Stiff? 

If a cat is dead but not stiff yet you can conclude two things.

First of all, if her/his body is not swollen yet and you can feel the warmth in her/his body it means she/he had died very soon 2 to 3 hours in the past.

Secondly, if the body is swollen and starts smelling not good at all it means the cat had died somewhat 2 to 3 days in the past.

How Long Does It Take For A Cat To Start Smelling After Death?

In many cases, a dead cat starts smelling after 3 to 4 days but in some particular cases, this duration varies from 4 to 5 days instead of 3 to 4 days depending upon the cause of death, the physical conditions of the cat, and the environmental temperature.

How Much Deep Is It Necessary To Bury A Dead Cat?

It is very important to bury your cat at least 3 to 5 feet deep. Because if you don’t cremate her/his body into ashes it is necessary to bury the body up to 3 to 5 feet.

Otherwise when the process of decomposition starts the body will smell unpleasant and may cause a kind of invitation for other animals.


Rigor mortis is a clear indicator of death, resulting from the cessation of energy production in cells.

Different stages include pallor mortis (skin paleness), algor mortis (body temperature decrease), and at the end rigor mortis. Estimating the time of a cat’s death involves observing the phase of rigor mortis and other decomposition indicators.

After death, a cat’s body gradually reaches a temperature equal to the environmental temperature.

If a cat dies at home, seek assistance, wrap the body, and consider burial or veterinary cremation services.

Similar Posts