Your pet cat still has the same instincts as a cat in the wild. To avoid attracting the attention of would be predators. Cats will hide any sign of weakness, illness or pain. It pays to be observant and know what is normal for your cat. Prompt detection of cat illness symptoms increases the probability that treatment will be successful. And cut down on the vet bills.
Some cat illness symptoms are obvious and others easy to miss.
- Has behavior or habits changed … even slightly
- Does your cat react when you touch it or try to pick it up
- Are there changes in physical appearance or the ability to move about easily
- Discharge from any body opening, or a lump, sometimes hidden beneath all that fur
- Changes in eating or drinking patterns … weight … litter box behavior or contents
A sick cat or a cat in pain will often find a quiet, dark place to hide – crouching in a corner, under the bed, in a closet … in an effort to conserve energy or avoid painful movement.
Don’t let a sick cat outdoors, it could find another hiding spot.
Other Sick Cat illness Symptoms and Signs Include:
- Lethargy: It is a general decline in activity or a lack of interest in anything that goes on. A lethargic cat may slow down, move very little, appear to be in a daze, show no interest in family and sleep more than usual. Illness can cause depression in cats, which doesn’t help matters.
- Is your cat talking to you? Is your cat unusually quiet or loud? Yowling and other odd sounds might be a cry for help.
- A purring cat is not always a happy cat: Cats purr when they are sick, in pain, and even when they are dying. We lost a foster kitten to distemper. Jelly was a little slow in the morning and died about ten that night. That little guy purred off and on for hours, while he suffered, until he passed on.
- Monitor your cat’s food and water intake carefully: Increased thirst can be a symptom of diabetes or other illness. You can’t always monitor your cat’s drinking habits but you may be able to keep an eye on the litter box activity. Advise your vet if you notice an unexplained increase or loss of appetite. Contact your veterinarian immediately if your feline is not drinking, having trouble with urinating or not urinating at all.
- Your cat’s weight: Losing a pound or so might be a triumph for some of us but for the average house cat, even half a pound (227 grams) can be a significant weight loss. A sick cat will often loose its appetite. Unexplained changes in weight, up or down, sudden or gradual should be reported to your veterinarian.
- Feline Fatty Liver Disease: If your overweight cat stops eating for a few days, he or she could develop “fatty liver disease”. To compensate for lack of food, the bloodstream delivers fat to the liver; the liver then converts the fat to protein, a source of energy for the body. The liver basically develops overwhelmed and felines then become extremely ill. Fatty liver disease can be fatal and it requires immediate medical treatment. If you plan to put your fat cat on a diet, ask a veterinarian first.
- Blockage Of The Urinary Tract: A blockage of the urinary tract (the urethra or bladder) can cause kidney failure. A blocked urethra tends to occur in males more frequently because their urethra is shorter. It is a life threatening condition and must be treated immediately. Some veterinarians believe that the increase in urinary tract problems and problems involving the bowels are directly related to the introduction of dry cat food. Which is a creation of the pet food industry. Dry cat food does not resemble a cat’s natural diet, which is meat (protein based) and moist.
Cat illness Symptoms of Feline Urinary Tract Disease Include:
- Frequent trips to the litter box
- Excessive urinating
- Squatting and straining to urinate with little or no results
- Crying or howling because urinating is painful
- Dribbling urine or unable to urinate at all
- Cat incontinence – inability to control urinating of defecating
- Blood or mucus in the urine
- Excessive licking of the genitals
A blockage of the urinary tract can cause kidney failure. A blocked urethra tends to occur in males more frequently because their urethra is shorter. It is a life threatening condition and must be treated immediately.
Some veterinarians believe that the increase in urinary tract problems and problems involving the bowels are directly related to the introduction of dry cat food (kibble) … which is a creation of the pet food industry.
Dry cat food does not resemble a cat’s natural diet, which is meat (protein based) and moist.
Were a cat’s organs designed to process and eliminate dehydrated kibble? That’s food for thought.
Feline vomiting: Cats often vomit hairballs and grass because they irritate the stomach, which is usually normal. When your cat eats too quickly or too much he or she might vomit the food back up shortly after. If your cat vomits once or twice but appears normal after, the problem usually is not serious. On the other hand, vomiting is a cat illness symptom common to many diseases, infection or intestinal parasites. Cats will vomit if they have eaten anything poisonous. Prolonged vomiting can cause dehydration. If your cat or kitten vomits repeatedly, or you see blood or anything unusual in the vomit, get in touch with your veterinarian right away.
Diarrhea: Diarrhea is a cat illness symptom that’s hard to miss. Contact your veterinarian if it lasts more than a day or contains blood, mucus or dark stools. Diarrhea is a symptom shared by many diseases and health disorders. It can cause dehydration in your pet. Take a sample of the diarrhea with you if you’re taking your cat to the vet.
Feline constipation: A common health problem in cats – in its mild form. Feces remain in the colon for two to three days and later appear in the litter box as small, hard and dry stools or softer stools, somewhat like diarrhea.
Dehydration in cats: Dehydration is an excessive loss of body fluids (and electrolytes), often resulting from prolonged vomiting or diarrhea, fever or overheating. For some cats (homeless), there is simply no clean water available to drink. Cat illness symptoms in a dehydrated cat are easy to miss. A cat’s skin will lose its elasticity. To check for dehydration, gently pull a clump of skin on the back of the cat’s neck up, into a fold and let go. Normally, the skin will immediately snap back into place. If the skin remains in a ridge and does not return to its normal position instantly, your cat is likely dehydrated. Another symptom is dryness of the mouth. Gums, which should be wet, are dry and tacky to the touch. For overweight and older cats, whose skin has already lost its elasticity, use this test to check for dehydration?
Coughing: Felines do cough up or vomit hairballs, which usually takes less than a minute. Persistent coughing is not normal and may be a symptom of asthma, an upper respiratory infection, parasites or other disease. Sneezing can be a reaction to irritants – sometimes cleaners and air fresheners – or pollen in the air. Sneezing can also be a symptom of a flu virus.
Upper Respiratory Infections: These viruses produce some cat illness symptoms that are similar to our colds or flu – sneezing, coughing, runny nose and eyes … but are far more serious. A sick cat might run a fever and lose attention in eating or drinking. Secondary bacterial infections can also develop. URI is highly contagious. In some cases, a shelter with an infected cat will close its doors to all incoming felines until the virus is under control. Some cats recover fully and some do not survive. Ask a vet to be on the safe side.
Cat Eye Problems: Eyes are considered to be windows to the soul but they can also provide some clues to your cat’s overall health. When your feline is well, eyes are bright and clear; the pupils are centered and of equal size and the eyes are moist. Discharge from one or both eyes, which can be a symptom of infection or disease. Pupils that are not equal in size can be a symptom of head injury. Eyes should not be dry or hazy. The third eyelid is a somewhat transparent white fold of skin which appears from the inner corner of a cat’s eye. Normally not visible when a cat is awake, its appearance can signal that your cat is sick and possibly in pain. A feline ear infection can become serious and complex. Cat ears should be clean, free of odor, discharge, swelling, scabbing and injury. Cat illness symptoms of ear irritation or infection are discharge, scratching, fussing with the ear and head shaking. Hearing and balance can be affected by infections of the middle and inner ear. If the infection is serious and allowed to progress cat illness symptoms are obvious and disturbing. Your cat’s face may become partially paralyzed on the infected side and the head will be held at a tilted angle. Eyes may dart about in a jerking manner. As with other health problems, the third eyelid may appear and partially cover the eye.
Ear mites are easy to miss: These creepy little creatures look like tiny dark specks, sometimes moving. Look deeply in the ears for a dark waxy discharge that may have a foul odor. Cats typically shake their heads and scratch at their itchy ears – which can create areas of rawness, scabbing, loss of hair and possibly a secondary bacterial infection. Ear mites can easily infect other cats and dogs. Your vet can recommend treatment.
Your cat’s mouth and teeth: It’s fair to say that some of the same symptoms that send us running to the dentist are affecting your cat’s dental health as well. Teeth should be clear of excessive tartar, especially at the gum line and the gums should be pink and moist. Loosening teeth, bleeding gums or swelling are not good. If your cat is having difficulty eating or is eating less … drooling or dropping food it may be suffering because of a painful abscess in the root of a tooth or other dental disease. The mouth, tongue and lips should be clear of any sores, lacerations … or anything that looks unusual. Bad breath may be caused by bacteria or infections in the mouth but can also be a symptom of diabetes and other diseases.
Lumps or bumps: Don’t ignore wounds, sores, blemishes, lumps or bumps that do not heal in a few days. Periodically run your hands over your cat’s body (which you can do while brushing your cat) so you can identify anything new or unusual.
Is your cat continuing to groom itself?
Cats that are healthy and content spend about ten percent of their waking hours grooming. If this important part of your cat’s daily self-care is faltering, it might be a sign that your cat is sick.
Pets are totally dependent on their people to provide them with health care when they need it … do fine tune your antennae so you recognize the first cat illness symptoms.