We love our cats and we want them to live long and healthy lives.  To do this, we need to know when our cat isn’t feeling well. The biggest challenge faced by devoted cat parents is this: cats are terrible at telling us when they don’t feel well. Cats hide everything. Remember, cats are predators, but they are also small prey and have evolved to hide any sign of weakness (showing weakness in the wild means they become someone else’s lunch). Because of this, our cats are sneaky and often show us only very subtle signs that mean they might not be feeling as well as they should be. So, how can you tell if your cat may be sick? 

Here are 20 signs that your cat may be sick.

  • Drinking lots of water
  • Creating a “flood” when urinating in the box
  • Urinating out of the box
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Vomiting food, liquid, or hairballs
  • Hiding or not as social
  • More affectionate or more aggressive than usual
  • Bad breath, broken tooth
  • Matted fur
  • Ungroomed fur
  • Hesitation when using the stairs
  • Seems to be slowing down, not as active (remember, old age is not a disease)
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing or wheezing
  • Increase in eye discharge
  • Any other ocular symptoms (cloudy, holding eye shut, etc.)
  • Loss of appetite for more than 2 days
  • Weight gain/loss
  • Excessive scratching or biting at fur
  • Other recent changes in behavior

What should I do if I see any of these signs that my cat may be sick?

If you see any of these subtle signs that your cat may be sick or are concerned about other behaviors you are seeing, it’s time to take action and bring your cat to a feline veterinarian. Exhibiting one or more of these signs may not mean your cat is seriously ill, but any one of these signs is an indication that the situation needs to be explored more fully, to rule out any illness. 

What happens when I bring my cat for an evaluation?

Generally, your feline veterinarian will want to do a physical examination and some baseline health screening laboratory testing, because we can’t know what we can’t see. Once the diagnostic values are returned, your feline veterinarian is able to use his or her expertise in cat medicine to analyze the lab results based on your cat’s previous values (if available), the diet, the physical exam, and your observations. All these factors help your feline veterinarian determine what might be going on with your cat.

Don’t wait to have your cat seen!  By the time a cat shows clear outward signs of illness, the illness is often severe;  so severe that they can’t hide it anymore. Early intervention, when indicated, is always the most beneficial health-wise and also the most cost-effective way to care for your cat.

We want your kitty to live the best life possible, and to thrive, not just survive.

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