My family has just recently lost one of our cats of 17 years. He was, as I am sure all members of this site understand, a member of the family and is deeply missed. However, as described below, we are troubled by the apparent changes in his body after death, and I am trying to find some answers if at all possible -- I apologize in advance for the potentially troubling nature of this message.
We believe that our cat passed away in his sleep -- a repairman at the house that day saw him crawl under his van and when he checked to make sure that he was gone before he pulled away, he found him peacefully resting, already gone. He appeared to have died in his sleep.
However, when my mother prepared to put him to rest, she was very shaken to see that his face had a terrible expression (I apologize, but we are hoping to find an answer) -- his eyes were very wide open, almost bulging, and his jaw was tightly clenched. We have done some internet research and believe this was due to rigor mortis, but we are naturally devastated and horrified to have seen him in this state. He was in very poor health as it was (he weighed very little towards the end), so we are hoping that perhaps his poor condition just made the rigor mortis more pronounced.
Does anyone out there have any information to confirm that this is so? My mother is very upset by it, and we are hoping to put our minds at ease somewhat by confirming that he really did just pass away in his sleep, and that this facial expression was just something unfortunate, but very natural, and does not indicate that he had any fear or discomfort at the end.
To anyone who is able to respond, thank you for your help -- anything you could offer would be a great comfort.