How Long Does It Take a Cat To Decompose?

logo by Editorial Staff | Posted on January 24th, 2023

Have you ever wondered how long it takes a cat to decompose? It’s a question many of us may have had but not know the answer to.

Well, here we will explore the science behind the decomposition process of cats and discuss what happens after their bodies are no longer with us.

Grave of a cat, stone cat statue in the pet cemetery, RIP

Understanding Animal Decomposition

Understanding animal decomposition is a key factor in determining how long it takes for a cat to decompose. The time it takes for a cat to decompose ranges from 6 months to 15 years. It is determined by numerous factors, including the body’s position, moisture levels, temperature, the presence of fat and predators, and burial.

As decomposition progresses, color changes in skin and soft tissues begin, and by roughly 24 to 30 hours, green discoloration over the abdominal area is observed. The visibility of decomposition depends on where animals are buried; pet owners who have experienced pet loss report that it could take two days for the decomposition to be noticeable.

In July, depending on where you live, a cat could decompose a lot in two days. For a cat to be almost bones, it could take anywhere from six months up to 15 years.

A cremation is an option for those who want their cat’s ashes back after passing. This can either be communal cremation, where several animals will be cremated together—making it impossible for you to get your cat’s ashes back—or private cremation, which allows pet owners to receive their pet’s ashes after the process is complete.

Finally, rigor mortis can play an important role in the decomposition process as it can start as early as 10 minutes after death or as late as three hours following death.

Rigor Mortis and its Role in the Decomposition Process

Rigor mortis is an important factor in the decomposition process of cats. Starting as early as ten minutes and as late as three hours following death, muscle rigidity progressively develops from 2 to 6 hours postmortem and becomes fully developed by 6 to 12 hours.

It is a reliable indicator that death has occurred and can help pet owners understand how long it takes a cat to decompose. This process is further affected by other variables such as temperature, fat content, and the presence of predators, which can also influence how quickly the body begins to break down.

Burial can also speed up the decomposition process, providing pet owners a way to honor their lost pets and get their ashes back.

The Role of Temperature in the Decomposition Process

The temperature is a key factor in the decomposition of a cat’s body. Higher temperatures result in a faster decomposition rate, with rigor mortis beginning within 10 minutes and the body becoming skeletal after three to four months in shaded areas.

In hot and moist environments, decomposition will happen quickly. However, depending on the environment, decomposition can take weeks to years. Carrion flies are often the main insects that colonize and decompose vertebrate remains. However, numerous other factors, such as burial location and the presence of predators, can also affect the decomposition rate.

The Role of Fat and Predators in the Decomposition Process

The role of fat and predators in the decomposition process cannot be understated. Fat can help to speed up the process of decomposition, while predators can help to break down and disperse the remains faster.

This is especially true for larger cats, where the presence of scavengers can significantly reduce the time it takes for a body to decompose. In addition, microorganisms living in their bodies can also accelerate the process. These combined factors can help explain why a cat’s body may take weeks to months to decompose completely.

The Role of Burial in the Decomposition Process

The role of burial in the decomposition process is an important factor to consider when estimating the amount of time it takes for a cat to decompose.

Burial can drastically speed up the decomposition process, as it not only helps to hasten the process due to the heat generated by the earth, but it also helps to protect the body from scavengers and predators, which can also speed up decomposition.

Additionally, by burying a dog or cat, your pet ensures that its ashes can be retrieved and returned to its owners if they wish. For pet owners dealing with loss, this can be an important way of commemorating their beloved pets.

Tips for Pet Owners on Dealing with Pet Loss

Pet owners dealing with losing their beloved pet may find it helpful to take certain steps to help in the grieving process. If your pet passes away at home, you may consider taking care of the decomposition process yourself or dropping off the pet at a vet clinic.

It is also important to remember that dogs and cats view family members as part of a pack, and understanding and dealing with pet grief can help re-establish a healthy family dynamic. Additionally, having a sense of closure by being able to store your pet until you can bury them or pick up their ashes in a week may also be beneficial.

Lastly, it is important to remember that there is no “normal” timeline for grieving and that it will take as long as it takes to properly process the loss of your beloved pet.


Editorial Staff

Our writers, editors, content managers, and SEO specialist. We all take part in crafting amazing articles. We spend hours ensuring that each article is based on facts, researched, and thorough. You'll never want to click the back button to look for more answers other than here!