The first step to picking up on any illness your cat has is to make sure you are very observant with their normal habits. Knowing what is normal for your cat will make it easier to notice when they are sick. This means you should monitor habits like food and water consumption, urination, defecation, weight, and energy level. Also, visiting your veterinarian regularly for check-ups can help you catch any problems before they become serious.
Here is a list of symptoms to look for in a sick cat and what they could mean. If you suspect your cat is sick, the best thing to do is take them to the vet to find out what the problem is.
- Weight Loss. This seems like a symptom that would be so easy to pick up on, but truthfully it's not. We see our cats everyday and just may not pick up on gradual weight loss until a lot of time has passed. This is one reason why visiting the vet regularly is important. Unfortunately, weight loss can be caused by any number of serious health conditions.
- Urinating outside of the litter box. Has your cat suddenly started having accidents outside of his litterbox? Don't assume it's a behavioral problem until you have him check out by the vet. It's very common for cats to experience urinary tract infections, urinary crystals, and/or bladder stones.
- Change in appetite. When cats don't eat, they can become very sick. If your cat's appetite has decreased, it could be a sign that something is wrong. However, if your cat has suddenly become very hungry for food, this is also a sign that something could be wrong. Cats with hyperthyroidism often become very ravenous and will constantly meow for more food.
- Jaundice. Jaundice or icterus means "yellow skin". This may be most noticeable on your cats gums and the insides of their ears. There are many health conditions that can cause jaundice in a cat, but one of the most common is hepatic lipidosis or "Fatty Liver Disease".
- Hair loss. Hair loss in cats can be due to allergies, parasites, ringworm, compulsive disorders, and much more.
- Sneezing. It's common for cats to experience upper respiratory infections. They may experience symptoms like sneezing, ocular discharge, nasal discharge, decreased appetite, and decreased energy levels. Just like a cold is for people, these infections are usually contagious to other cats.
- Diarrhea. This is another symptom that could be caused by any number of health conditions. Some of these conditions could be minor problems that are easy to fix, or the diarrhea could be due to serious health problems.
- Bad Breath. It might be obvious that bad breath in cats could be a sign of dental disease. But, did you know that bad breath can also be an indicator for other diseases? If your cat's breath is unusually sweet smelling, it could be a sign of diabetes. Cat breath that smells similar to urine is a symptom of kidney disease. And really stinky and foul cat breath can be a sign of liver disease.
Remember, this list is only meant as a guide to help cat owners be prepared and know what to look for when their cat is sick. It is not meant to diagnose a problem. If you believe your cat is sick, please take them in to the vet for an exam.
These are just a few of the common signs that your cat may be sick. Of course, there are plenty of other symptoms cats can experience from illness. We certainly hope none of you ever need to use this list, but at the very least you can be prepared and hopefully catch any illness early on.