How to tell if your cat is sick: Signs and Symptoms

Cats can be stoic creatures and often manage to hide their discomfort when they are sick. Our Bartlett vets share some of the signs and symptoms that indicate your feline friend may be feeling under the weather. 


Symptoms of a Sick Cat

Cats, like many animals, are remarkably good at hiding their discomfort when they are ill. In fact, signs of illness may not be obvious until your cat is feeling very unwell. That's why it's important to visit your Bartlett vet as soon as possible if you notice any of the following signs or symptoms:

  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Sudden mood change 
  • No inclination to play or appearing lethargic
  • Much less or much more vocal than usual 
  • Sudden changes in appetite, drinking, or eating habits 
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Neglecting grooming or over-grooming
  • Improper use of litter box
  • Limping or injuries 
  • Wounds or swelling 
  • Bad breath
  • Discharge from eyes or nose 
  • Hair loss or skin irritation
  • Hiding

Knowing When Your Cat is Sick

No one knows your cat as well as you do. Be sure to watch your cat for subtle changes in behavior that others may not notice; take note of any changes to your cat's usual body language or demeanor.

If something just doesn't seem right, it's a good time to take your cat to the vet for a thorough examination, even if your cat isn't showing any of the symptoms listed above.

    Some Common Causes of Illness in Cats

    The symptoms listed above are all signs that your cat may be sick. Here are a few common illnesses that cats can develop: 

    • The sudden appearance of litter box issues could indicate anything from a urinary tract infection to bladder stones or kidney disease.
    • A sudden increased appetite could be an indication of diabetes, hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease or even intestinal cancer.
    • If your cat is drinking far more water than usual, it could be a sign that your cat is suffering from kidney disease, thyroid problems, or diabetes. 
    • Upper respiratory infections can cause breathing problems and reduce your cat's enthusiasm for activities and play.
    • Injuries and arthritis can result in a drop-off in your cat’s acrobatic activities. 
    • Bad breath in cats is a strong sign that your cat may be suffering from periodontal disease or experiencing tooth pain. If left untreated, dental disease in cats can lead to more serious issues such as heart, liver and kidney conditions.  

    What To Do if Your Cat is Sick

    If your cat is displaying any unusual behaviors it's worth a trip to the vet for diagnosis and treatment. Early detection and treatment of illnesses can help to prevent conditions from becoming more severe or potentially life-threatening.

    Cat injuries or illnesses often require urgent medical attention, surgery or even emergency care. It is essential to seek professional veterinary advice as soon as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner your furry friend will be acting more like themselves again.

    If your cat isn't feeling their very best, contact Hillcrest Animal Hospital to book an appointment today

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