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

Looking for a vet in Memphis?

We're always accepting new patients, so contact our veterinary hospital today to book your pet's first appointment.

Contact Us

Related Articles View All

Labored Breathing in Dogs & Cats

When your cat or dog has labored breathing it means that they are not just out of breath but actually struggling to breathe. Today our vets explain more about labored breathing in pets and what you should do if your cat or dog is having difficulties breathing.

Treatment for Babesiosis in Dogs

Babesiosis or Babesia infection is spread by ticks and found in dogs and other mammals across the United States. Today our North Memphis vets explain the symptoms and treatments for Babesiosis and how you can help to prevent your dog from contracting this serious disease.

Anaplasmosis Symptoms in Dogs

Anaplasmosis is just one of the many tick-borne diseases that threaten the health of pets and other animals across the US. Here, our Memphis vets share the symptoms of Anaplasmosis in dogs and how this potentially serious condition is treated.

About Tick Borne Diseases in Dogs

Ticks-born diseases are a real health concern for dogs right across North America. Symptoms can be painful and zap the energy right out of your pet. Here, our Memphis vets share some symptoms of common tick-borne diseases seen in dogs, and why early detection is essential.

Client Comments About Our Quality of Care

  • Thank you so very much to the doctors and the amazing staff for helping save my precious Jewels. Your expertise, time, attention and caring hearts have given me more time with my baby. Thank you and God bless you!
    - Jennifer H.

(901) 382-1950