How to Tell if your Feline Friend is Sick

Did you know that your cat is a master of disguise? We’re not talking about lurking behind corners and surprising you, nor are we talking about sitting on your chest in the morning and pretending to be an alarm clock. More specifically we’re talking about when your feline friend gets sick. It’s a natural instinct for cats to hide feelings of illness because their ancestors in the wild risked ending up as prey by showing signs of weakness. However, this adaptation isn’t quite so useful in the home. Cats are so good at hiding their illnesses that sometimes they won’t start showing obvious signs until they’re in the advanced stages of a sickness; therefore, it can be really helpful to look for the telltale signals that something isn’t right to prevent or proactively address any serious problems. If you believe that your cat may be ill, we strongly recommend you contact us to make an appointment for her to be seen by a doctor. Here are some things to watch for:

Lethargy:
Decreased activity is a very common sign of illness in cats. Every cat has a different personality, so some cats are naturally more or less active. What’s important is how your pet is acting compared to how they normally do. If you see a decrease in activity level that’s unusual for kitty, take caution and consider it a possible indication of a problem.

Gums Changing Color:
Check your cat’s gums. Are they pink? They should be. Any other color including pale, gray, yellow, blue, or bright red are signs of a serious illness. Just like activity levels, the colors of a cat’s gums can vary greatly from animal to animal. Take a look at kitty’s gums when she’s healthy so you know what it will look like if things change.

Changes in Eating or Drinking Habits:
Cats will often begin to eat and drink less or more when they’re sick. Not only is this a good indicator of illness, but eating less can also lead to complications like dehydration and low blood sugar and eating more can cause unhealthy weight gain or be an indicator of thyroid disease. Changes in diet can make getting better more difficult. So keep good tabs on whether or not your furry friend is getting the right amount of food and water and watch for changes in appetite.

Not Using the Litter Box:
Though it might not seem like a reasonable response to illness, if your cat is sick she may suddenly stop using the litter box. While this behavior can also be a result of changes in the environment, like moving to a new home or introducing another new pet to the family, it can also indicate that your cat might have a urinary tract infection. Therefore, you should treat refusal to use the litter box as a health problem first to be sure that you catch any illness before it worsens.

Shivering, Drooling, or Panting:
A cat who engages in any of these kinds of behaviors is experiencing a serious level of discomfort. Do not assume that your cat is cold or hot if you see drooling or panting behavior. These are not normal responses to temperature change for cats and almost always indicate that something is awry internally.

Changes in Coat or Body:
You’re probably aware that one of your cat’s top priorities in life is to maintain a beautiful and pet-able coat of fur! Your cat’s coat should usually be shiny, soft, and well-managed. A loss of shine or the appearance of a disheveled coat can be an indicator of a health problem. Just think about how your priorities change when you’re sick.

Changes in Eyes:
Did you know your cat has more than one eyelid? This is some pretty amazing stuff! You rarely see the third eyelid, but if it becomes visible, there may be something wrong. Also look for changes in eye color and redness or seeping. If you spot any of these signs, visit your veterinarian.

If you think that you’ve spotted some of the signs we discussed in this post, we recommend that you visit us at Boulder’s Natural Animal and allow our talented and experienced staff to care for your loved one. For some additional helpful tips on caring for your cat, visit our Cat Care page.

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