How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick: Signs & Symptoms

Learn about signs and symptoms of a sick cat, potential causes and what you should do to ensure your furry friend gets back to being happy and healthy. 


How can I tell if my cat is sick?

Sometimes, our cats get sick and it can be difficult to tell what’s ailing them. While a qualified veterinarian should give them a thorough physical exam once a year, issues can pop up between visits that can result in a seriously ill cat. If you see these signs and symptoms, your cat may be ill and require medical attention:

      • Hiding
      • Constricted or dilated pupils
      • Vomiting or diarrhea
      • Sudden change in mood
      • Much less or much more vocal than usual 
      • Sudden changes in appetite, drinking or eating habits 
      • Gaining or losing weight 
      • Changes in breathing (rapid breathing or shortness of breath)
      • Bad breath
      • Discharge from eyes or nose 
      • Hair loss or skin irritation 
      • Neglecting grooming or over-grooming
      • Improper use of litter box
      • Limping or injuries 
      • Wounds or swelling 
      • No inclination to play or appearing lethargic

You know your cat best and can probably sense when they are not their regular selves. Even if they have one of these symptoms but aren’t showing signs of pain, take action and visit a vet.

Potential causes of illness in cats

The symptoms above can be caused by any number of conditions or issues. Though it’s normal for cats to change over time as they age, the sudden appearance of litter box issues could indicate anything from a urinary tract infection to bladder stones or kidney disease.

Extreme weight loss could be due to cancer, while noticeable weight gain can result in obesity, which may cause many long-term issues such as diabetes and cancer. These diseases reduce your cat’s quality of life, and can even cut it short, so it’s imperative to get them medical attention.

Other issues may be caused by dental diseases. Upper respiratory infections can cause breathing problems, while arthritis or injury can result in a drop-off in your cat’s acrobatic activities. Keep an eye on their fur while you’re petting them. Any abscesses that are hot to the touch or aren’t healing are also cause for concern.

What to do when your cat is sick

It can be distressing to see signs that all is not well with your cat, but the sooner you can get them to a vet, the sooner you can get them back to feeling healthy, happy and limber. Because some illnesses or injuries require urgent medical attention, surgery or even emergency care, it’s imperative to seek professional advice.

At StageRoad Animal Hospital, our Memphis vets can help diagnose illnesses and offer a full complement of veterinary services for your cat, from preventative care to surgery and laser therapy. Book an appointment today.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick, Memphis Vet

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