When a friend or family member isn’t feeling well, you can usually tell. They look sick, sound hoarse, cough, or maybe even tell you that they don’t feel well. Unfortunately, your cat isn’t like that, and, if you aren’t paying attention, you may miss some important information your cat may be telling you.
Why Cats Don’t Say Much When They’re Sick
Cats are the strong, silent type when it comes to how they feel. They don’t like letting other critters know that they are feeling under the weather, so they’re likely to suffer without complaining. If you’re not too watchful, you may only discover the problem after your cat becomes very sick. It’s not that your cat is particularly embarrassed to tell you she’s not feeling well. This is an adaptation that cats evolved to ensure their survival. Your cat can’t help not telling you because, in the wild, your cat could appear vulnerable to other predators or more dangerous animals.
How to Tell if Your Cat Is Sick
As a cat owner, your job is to keep an eye on your cat to determine whether he or she is sick. This can be difficult, because sometimes your cat can be very subtle. If you have a cat who goes outdoors, it may even be more difficult, as you won’t be able to see all her behavior while she’s not in the house. Furthermore, you may not be able to tell her litterbox habits, since she may go outside. You can catch health problems before they become an issue by bringing your cat to the veterinarian twice a year for a wellness check-up. These check-ups can find a problem before you can even see that there is a problem. That’s why it’s so important to bring your cat to the veterinarian regularly.
Signs and Symptoms Your Cat Might Be Ill
Because it’s tough to know exactly when your cat is ill, it helps for you to know your cat well. Behavior that is unusual for your cat is often the first sign that there is a problem. If your cat is normally friendly and goes off to hide, that’s a sure sign she is sick. If he is normally standoffish and now becomes am attention hound, that’s another sign something isn’t right. Sudden signs of aggression, lack of appetite, ravenous appetite and other unusual behaviors are also a cause for concern.
Other signs of illness include:
- Excessive thirst: May suggest a kidney problem, urinary tract infection, or other health problem.
- Sudden heat seeking (more than normal for a cat)
- Not using the litter box: Suggests urinary tract infection, kidney problem, defecation problems such as megacolon, and other painful conditions.
- Not eating: Missing one meal is a big deal. Your cat can suffer from hepatic lipidosis — a life threatening liver disease — if she misses a meal.
- Hiding from you.
- Being overly vocal.
- Not grooming herself.
- Bad breath: tooth problem.
- Bites or scratches when touched.
- Losing weight.
- Gaining weight.
- Lumps or bumps that aren’t normal.
- Weepy or watery eyes.
- Sniffles, nasal discharge.
Any of these signs means you need to make an appointment with the veterinarian to have your cat looked at. Who knows? You may just save your cat’s life.
View more articles written by Maggie Bonham.