Cats retain an air of mystery to keep themselves safe. This same defense mechanism can work against them when they get sick. That leaves us to look for hidden clues to determine when they are sick.
Hiding is one of the most obvious signs a properly socialized cat is sick. Your cat may hide in small spaces such as under the bed or in a closet. When you see this behavior your cat needs to see a veterinarian. He could be seriously ill and may need medical attention immediately.
We think that changes in behavior mean a cat becomes more lethargic. In some cases cats may become more active. When you see your normally calm cat become hyper this might be a sign of an overactive thyroid.
Sleep pattern changes also indicate something is wrong. Cats are nocturnal but house cats can often mimic the sleeping patterns of their guardians. A major departure from your cat’s normal sleeping pattern, whether nocturnal or diurnal, is indicative of a health change.
When a cat is in pain he won’t lie stretched out. He will be hunched over with his legs pulled in underneath him. Just think when you’re in pain or ill. You will most likely be in bed, curled up tight. A cat will do the same.
No Appetite or Too Much
A loss of appetite can be difficult to discern as many cats are picky about their food. The best way to tell your cat is eating too little food is their weight. A noticeable loss of weight is a symptom of many things, including but not limited to mouth pain, bowel/bladder problems, or even as severe as cancer.
An increased appetite should be given proper attention, too. This can indicate malabsorption of food due to cancers or parasites. Hyperthyroidism can also be a cause of hungriness in cats. Especially troublesome is hungriness and increased eating, but no weight gain. This might be accompanied by loose stools or diarrhea.
Litter Box Activity
Cats are very intelligent. They know where to go to the bathroom. They know that the litter box is for them. So, when your cat is not peeing or pooping where he should there is a problem. First, make sure your litter box is clean. Cats are very fastidious. They don’t want to go to the bathroom in a dirty litter box.
Given that your litter box is pristine, abnormal litter box activity includes peeing or pooping outside the litter box or not being able to do either. In males urinary tract infections or blockages are common and need veterinary attention. When your cat is not going to the bathroom properly he may have an illness associated with the bowels or bladder.
Time for the Vet
Sometimes problems take care of themselves on their own. Monitoring your cat and giving him your own palliative care can work as our pets can get temporary illnesses just like we can. Only you know what’s best for your cat. If something doesn’t feel right and you don’t think it’s a mild temporary illness, trust your instinct. Going to the vet can put a dent in your wallet, but it certainly won’t hurt your cat.
By Gabrielle Allemeier
Vetstreet: How to Tell If Your Cat Is Sick — 7 Symptoms to Watch Out for
Pet Health Network: How to Tell If Your Cat’s Secretly Sick
Bustle: 11 Surprising Signs Your Cat Is Sick & You Should Consult Your Vet
About the Author
Gabrielle Allemeier volunteers her free time as an animal rescuer and foster pet parent. As an animal lover, she enjoys sharing the knowledge she has gained from her experience with a variety of animals. Along with being an animal lover, Gabrielle is a globetrotter. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her terrier, Thisbe.