7 Sick Cat Symptoms You Should Notice

Contributor: Mychelle Blake
Cat with Vet

If your cat is sleeping all day and not eating or generally just seems like he's not feeling well, there's a good chance he may be sick. Knowing the subtle signs of illness will help you get your cat the attention he needs. By being aware of your cat's regular activities and his general healthy physical appearance, it will be easier to notice little changes and identify when he's sick.

Your Cat Not Eating or Displays Changes in Eating or Drinking Habits

Any change in a cat's eating/drinking behavior or routine may be a sign of sickness. It can be extremely difficult for cat parents to determine the cause of appetite changes and other symptoms cats show us, but as cat lovers it's vital to be watchful for signs of digestive issues. For expert guidance on mapping digestive symptoms to underlying health problems, get a copy of LoveToKnow's eBook "Happy Tummy Cat", written by a veterinarian. Signs to watch for include:

  • A decrease in food intake for more than a couple of days
  • An increased or excessive appetite or thirst, which could be a sign of diabetes or hyperthyroidism
  • Not drinking any water

Your Cat Is Lethargic

Although some cats sleep up to 20 hours during a 24-hour day, the average cat sleeps 16 hours each day. Even though cats spend so much time asleep, changes in their sleeping patterns may be a sign of a medical problem. A sick cat may seem overly tired or weak, doesn't show interest in anything, and often also exhibits other behavioral changes or a lack of interest in food and water.

Your Cat Has Changes in Activity

According to The Cat Hospital, if you notice a change in your cat's activity level, either an increase or a decrease, it may be an indication the cat is not feeling well. If you notice your cat is reluctant to jump up on things that were easy for her to reach before, or she seems to be jumping differently, there could be a medical reason. A noticeable change in the cat's gait could also be a sign of a sick cat.

Your Cat's Grooming Habits Change

Cats are generally clean animals, grooming themselves much of the time they are awake. When a cat suddenly stops grooming itself, it can be a sign of stress, but it can also indicate a painful problem such as arthritis. On the other hand, a cat that incessantly grooms one spot of its body may also have a skin condition.

You Notice Changes in Coat or Loss of Fur

Any change in the condition or texture of a cat's coat is often an indication your pet is ill. The coat may feel coarse, greasy or very dry. Flaking skin or significant fur loss, such as noticeable thinning or bald patches, is a sign the cat is unwell, per The Cat Hospital.

Your Cat Is Vomiting Excessively

A cat throwing up an occasional hairball is normal. A sudden change in food may also lead to stomach upset. They may eat too quickly, too much, leading to vomiting afterward.

However, if a cat vomits often, has projectile vomiting, or vomits for an extended period, PetMD notes it may be a sign of a more serious problem.

Your Cat Is Hiding

It's normal for cats to hide during the day when they're looking to enjoy an uninterrupted nap. Cats will also hide as part of playtime and expressing natural hunting behaviors. If your cat suddenly begins hiding more than he or she usually would, this could be a sign that your cat is sick. This happens often within elderly cats who will hide as a result of the pain and stress they are feeling from a serious medical condition. If your cat suddenly beings hiding when he has never before, or drastically increases the amount of previous hiding behavior, it's time to have a medical checkup with your veterinarian to make sure your cat is healthy.

Additional Sick Cat Symptoms

In addition, the following signs can be a cause for concern:

  • Sneezing
  • Runny nose or greenish discharge from the nose
  • Redness around the nose
  • Coughing
  • A change in the cat's breathing rate
  • Labored breathing
  • Scratching or shaking its head
  • Excessive drooling or salivating
  • Inflammation of the mouth
  • A noticeable bump on its mouth
  • Urinating outside of the litter box or other abnormal litter box behavior
  • Any change in bowel movements, including diarrhea or constipation

When to Seek Immediate Care

If you notice any of the following signs of illness in your cat, seek immediate medical care.

  • Seizure
  • Blood in the stool
  • Blood in urine
  • Protracted vomiting
  • Trouble breathing
  • Paralysis
  • Straining to urinate
  • Hemorrhage
  • Jaundice - any yellowing of the eyes, gums or skin
  • Pale gums - an indication of shock or anemia
  • Abnormally low or high body temperature
  • If the third eyelid is visible

Symptoms of a Sick Cat

Cats are not able to tell their owners if they are not feeling well. As responsible pet caretakers, it is up to each owner to recognize symptoms of an illness and seek medical care as soon as possible.

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7 Sick Cat Symptoms You Should Notice