Expert Advice for Helping an Ill Cat

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There are times when our visitors just aren't sure if the symptoms their cat is experiencing is something that necessitates a trip to the vet or something more minor.

Visitor Questions About Ill Cats

Found Lost Cat But He's Ill

I recently found my cat on an online pet store after he was missing for four long years. That is a crazy story in and of itself. I'm pretty sure someone took him in, and then he ran away from them because he was found as a stray. A foster mom fostered him for over a year. When I lost him, he was very big and had much more meat on his bones. I would think after this lady had him for over a year, he would have put on some weight but he is still very skinny. I have several questions:

  1. Is it cognitively possible, for a cat to remember its previous owner after not being with that previous owner for four years? I know humans have this brain capacity, of course, but I'm wondering if he remembers me. I had him since he was a kitten up until he was about two years old.
  2. His pupils seem to always be dilated. I have seen stray cats before and I know that theirs are always dilated, probably because they are always alert to their surroundings and/or live in fear. I've had my cat back for a couple days now and he's adjusting wonderfully, but his pupils still seem to be dilated all the time, even when he is purring. I have seen them get smaller when he opens them just after waking up so I don't think it's glaucoma or anything like that.
  3. He doesn't eat much. I would think he would want to eat all the time because he is so skinny. Also, the first night I had him he threw up what he ate. The foster mom says he is up to date on all shots, so I don't think he's sick. Maybe he just ate too much or was overcome by the events of the day?
  4. When he meows it sounds like he has a sore throat. Does he just need to drink more water or could this be an illness of some sort?

Thank you. ~~Timea

Expert Reply

Hi, Timea,

What a gift to find a cat that has been lost for four long years. I once found a cat that had been lost for a year and she seemed to remember me. The younger a cat is, the better his memory is likely to be. Also, it sounds like you had a strong bond since you had him the first two years of his life. It is very likely that your cat does remember you. There have been reunions after years and years where the cat seems excited to see the previous owner.

Dilated pupils can be a sign of hypertension, so it might not be a bad idea to go ahead and have him tested by your veterinarian to be sure this isn't an issue. It is likely he is just adjusting to your home. Even if he remembers you, it is still a change for him. It sounds like his foster mom was good to him, so he was likely attached to her as well.

As for his nausea, did you keep him on the same food that he'd been eating at the foster mom's? If not, the sudden change could cause tummy upset. If you did keep him on the same food, then I would watch him closely. Throwing up once is probably not any cause for concern, especially with the stress of moving from one home to another and the excitement of seeing you again. However, if he continues to throw up his food, please get him to the vet. It could be the symptom of other illnesses.

Finally, the sore throat sound could be the symptom of inflamed larynx. And if he has an infection that could cause him to not keep his food down. I'd go ahead and have the vet look at this issue as well. I realize you may not want to put him through the stress of a trip to the vet so soon after getting him back home, but it really is for his own good. Congrats again on finding your pet and I'd love to hear the story of how you found him sometime.

~~Lori .

Expert Advice for Helping an Ill Cat