Cats are very independent pets. They mostly groom themselves and can also occupy themselves for hours with a toy. It will take a practiced eye to tell if they are sick.
You may think that your cat speaks to you in meows and purrs but it is a foreign language. There is no translation to let you know when they are in pain or not feeling well. So, how will you know if your cat is under the weather?
One way is to pay attention and listen. You are around your pet every day. From the time you get them home with a clean bill of health, take note of their usual behaviors. Vets can give you instruction and literature on normal cat activity and body functioning. Now, you are armed with the tools you need to identify when something is not right with your pet.
Signs of Sickness
For many cat owners, they don’t know that something is wrong until it is too late. This doesn’t have to be the case with you and your cat. Here are some signs that you can be on the lookout for.
1. Appetite – Your cat usually eats all of his food but now he is eating less. It could be that he doesn’t like a new food that you are offering. On the more serious side, he could have a digestive ailment that has changed his appetite. Use this measure. Grasp the skin between your cat’s shoulder blades. If it bounces back into place once you let go then he is well-hydrated. If not, your cat could be dehydrated. Offer him more water to drink each day.
2. Litter box business – This is kind of stinky but you might have to check the litter box droppings if you notice any changes in appetite. Think of it this way – you scoop out the droppings when you clean the litter box anyway. Next time, pay closer attention to the droppings. If your cat is eating more but eliminating less, that is a sign of possible illness. Also, if stools are loose or hard with traces of blood, this is another indicator that something is wrong. Check the color as well.
3. Eyes – The eyes have it. Cats have three lids: upper lid, lower lid and nictitating membrane. It’s much like a lizard where the third membrane comes across the eye and back as the other two close. You don’t normally see it because it closes so fast. If you can see halfway covering the eye, take him to the vet. Notice the normal coloring of your cat’s eyes. Any cloudiness to any area of the eyes could signal ulcers, cataracts or other problems.
4. Coat – Look for bald patches or a dull sheen to the coat. It could signal an allergic reaction, stress in your cat or a flea or other infection.
5. Ears – Take a look. Are they perky as usual? If there is a bluish or yellowish tint to them, it could signify a problem with oxygenation or liver damage.
Is your best friend feeling down? Use these guidelines to determine if you need to raise the alarm or just give your cat a little bit of loving.
Cats are remarkably robust animals that are often much hardier and healthier than dogs, if vaccinated regularly and cared for properly. But they do get sick and because of the feline temperament they’re inclined not to show it. So how do you tell if your cat is sick?
All cat owners should know what their cat is like when in tip-top health. The coat is glossy and well-groomed, the appetite is good and the eyes are bright and clear. If not, these are physical signs of illness that most owners will pick up easily – if they look.
The occasional sneeze, the odd cough and occasional vomiting to eject a hairball are nothing to worry about, but any departure from the norm requires you to keep a watchful eye on your pet. Loss of appetite could mean that your pet is dining out elsewhere, or it could be the sign of a disease that needs veterinary attention.
If your cat uses a litter box, make a habit of checking it. Loose stools could be owing to something unsavory they ate or a sign of something more serious. Infrequent or copious urination is an important sign of a common older cat affliction, kidney disease. Catch it early and your chances are improved. If you suspect your cat is not well, it’s a good idea to keep it inside with a litter tray so you can observe its output.
Often an ill cat will show few obvious physical signs. Behavioral changes are something to be on the alert for. A sick cat will often withdraw, choosing obscure places to sleep and spending more hours than usual and being inactive. Stressed cats may exhibit a sudden preference for high places, like closet tops or high shelves. Cats are creatures of routine, so unusual activities or behavior that is out of character (such as reticence or aggression) is always worth monitoring closely.
When playing with your cat, use the opportunity to do a close inspection on a regular basis. Check that the ears are clean and free of mites. Check the mouth for tooth and gum infection and the eyes for discharge or inflammation. When stroking your cat check for fleas and ticks, as well as any lumps or growths. Outdoor cats (especially toms) are prone to developing nasty abscesses at injury sites if they get into a fight.
If you know exactly what your cat is like when it’s in peak health, the signs of illness will be that much easier to detect. If you think something is wrong, don’t be indecisive. The sooner you get to the vet the better and the higher your chance of something being able to be done about it. It’s the least we can do for them…
For general cat care, check out our Cat Care page!