13 Signs Your Cat Is Sick

13 Signs Your Cat Is Sick

“Talk to the animals,” a song written for the 1967 movie, Dr. Dolittle, sets out to capture our imagination. It visualizes what it might be like if we could actually have a chat with a furry friend.

Animal lovers know that one of the key frustrations of having a cat is that we can’t talk with them in the same way as the human members of our family. So how do we know when our cat is sick? 

The reality is that we need to find other ways to communicate. Read on to find out how to recognize the signs your cat is sick and why it’s so important to do so.

How to “Talk” to the Animals

The health and well-being of our pets should always be our number one priority. A cat can’t tell us that they have a headache, stomach issue, or has swallowed something they shouldn’t. We need to find other ways to keep on top of how they might be feeling. 

We asked our team of veterinary experts to compile a list of some of the most common signs your cat could be sick. These are the 13 they came up with:

  1. A Change in Appetite

Most animals, particularly cats, and dogs, love their food. Eating is a key instinct connected to survival. Any changes to how much or how often your cat is eating could therefore be one of the signs your cat is sick.

Cats with dental problems might find it harder to eat. Anorexic cats that are not eating tend to develop a condition known as fatty liver disease or hepatic lipidosis. If it takes hold, a cat will need medical care for several weeks or months to get back to normal. And alternatively, an increase in hunger could signify the onset of diabetes.

If your cat has not eaten for 24 hours, you should seek the advice of a vet straight away.

  1. An Increased Thirst

Cats with a metabolic disease like diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism may have a good appetite and greater thirst. Cats with liver or kidney problems tend to lose their appetite but typically have increased thirst.

Kidney disease and a raised level of calcium could also lie behind a need to drink more. A urinary prescription diet might also mean your cat needs to relieve itself more frequently.

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  1. Litter Box Issues

If your cat is suddenly unable to urinate, you should consult a vet immediately – particularly if they are male. It may be that they have an obstruction in their lower urinary tract. You should consider this a medical emergency!

Cats might avoid using the litter box if they associate it with pain. This can happen due to a range of gastrointestinal or bladder infections. There may also be an association with arthritis or other joint pain that makes it hard to get in or out of the litter box.

  1. Diarrhea and Vomiting

There is a long list of conditions and illnesses that have either or both diarrhea and vomiting as symptoms. These include:

  • Gastrointestinal blockage, kidney disease, or pancreatitis 
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Food intolerance or an allergy
  • A medication or toxin
  • Stress, liver disease, or cancer
  • A viral or bacterial infection 
  • Constipation
  1. Mood Changes

An unusual change in a cat’s mood, such as irritability, could be one of the signs your cat is sick and mean they are suffering from pain or hypertension. It might also indicate your cat is having trouble seeing or hearing normally. More extreme reasons could be brain tumors or even rabies.

  1. Lethargy

Sick cats tend to become withdrawn. Some hide, others may become more demanding but most will display a lower energy level. You might, for example, notice that your cat sleeps more and prefers not to play as much.

  1.  Bad Breath

The underlying reason for bad breath is normally some form of dental disease. It can, however, also be an indication of an internal illness such as diabetes or kidney disease.

  1. Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Maintaining a stable, healthy weight is good for your cat’s overall health and well-being. Older cats may naturally lose some of their muscle mass making them appear thinner. However, weight loss can be a sign of many conditions. These include:

  • Poor nutrition or dental disease
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Diabetes, cancer, hyperthyroidism, kidney or pancreatic disease
  • Bowel issues, nausea, or malabsorption

Weight gain tends to be the result of overfeeding. It can also be a sign of a cancerous tumor or an accumulation of fluid on the abdomen as well as endocrine diseases.

  1. Your Cat is Hiding 

When a cat hides, they tend to be trying to communicate something to you. They may feel frightened, but stress and pain could also be underlying factors. Pregnant cats may also seek out a quiet location to give birth to their kittens.

  1. Coughing or Panting

Cats do not typically pant. If they do, it can be one of the signs ​​your cat is sick – and you should contact a vet immediately.

They could be suffering from stress, heart or lung disease, or have become overheated.

Wheezing in cats may be a symptom of asthma. Coughing could be a sign of a respiratory infection, heartworm disease, bronchitis, or cancer.

  1. Pale Gums

Pale gums in cats could mean you have a medical emergency on your hands. They often indicate shock, blood loss, anemia, or another potentially life-threatening condition. If your cat’s gums are pale, white or blue, you should immediately seek the help of a vet.

  1. Eye or Ear Discharge

You would not typically expect to see significant discharge from your cat’s eyes or ears. Eye discharge could be due to cat flu, eyelid disease, a viral or bacterial infection, or a corneal injury. The most common cause of an ear issue would be a fungal or bacterial infection or ear mites.

  1. Not Grooming or Overgrooming

It’s possible for the pain to lead to either a decrease or increase in the grooming habits of a cat. Cats with a painful bladder condition might overgroom their underside to the point of baldness. Overgrooming can also be a way to reduce anxiety. 

Pain or aches in joints may cause a cat to stop grooming the problem area altogether. You might therefore notice clumped or matted hair. If your cat has some kind of oral infection, they may also not be able to find it hard to groom comfortably.

Consult a Vet Today!

There are plenty of ways that your cat may be trying to communicate that they’re suffering from pain or experiencing an illness. If you have any concerns about signs your cat is sick, get in touch with us.
We have a team of veterinary experts on hand to offer advice. Book your timeslot today.

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