Your cat is an important part of your life, which is why knowing the symptoms of a sick cat is invaluable to keeping her happy and healthy. As her pet parent, you know what is “normal” for her. You know her eating habits, how often she grooms herself, her natural energy levels, her normal sleep patterns and even her litter box habits.
When you combine these daily observations along with a base knowledge of sick cat symptoms, you are more able to note potential health issues before they become a problem. Here are some signs your cat could be feeling under the weather:
Skin and Coat
When occasional scratching becomes more regular, and/or is accompanied by biting or licking it’s time to explore the possibility that your cat has fleas.
If she does, be aware that the key to flea prevention is to use a multi-product approach year-round. Certain products and procedures—a bath with flea shampoo, for example—may be effective for temporarily removing fleas from your cat, but not your cat’s environment. Prevent infestations by using a monthly topical treatment. If fleas aren’t the culprit, explore other possibilities by taking a trip to the veterinarian for a checkup to rule out allergies, other parasites or illness.
Skin and coat health is a great indicator of your cat’s overall health, so if you notice anything irregular on your cat’s body, it’s best to have it checked out by your veterinarian right away.
A quick examination of your cat’s mouth can be a helpful way of spotting any oral health concerns. As the American Veterinary Dental College points out, any teeth that are loose, damaged or show signs of tarter build-up are troublesome—as are bad breath, drooling, dropping food, red or swollen gums or loss of appetite. A healthy cat should generally be free of any of these periodontal issues.
Eyes and Ears
Your cat’s eyes should be clear and bright. Irritated, cloudy, dry or red eyes can be indicative of trouble. Ears should also be clean and free of unpleasant odors. Periodically check eyes and ears for any discharge, which could be a sign of infection.
Obvious Signs of a Sick Cat:
Listlessness or lethargy
Persistent, regular coughing or sneezing (not just a single occasional cough or sneeze)
Pain when walking or climbing
Unexplained weight loss—this can be an indication of a variety of potentially severe conditions, or it can be as simple as a tooth problem
Significant changes in appetite or thirst
Changes in litter box habits
It’s easy to watch for these and other signs and catch potential medical problems early. With advice from a veterinarian and proper care, your cat should be feeling like her old self again in no time.