Cats are pros at hiding their illnesses. Call it natural instinct or just a typical stubborn streak, but they sometimes hide their illnesses so well, owners don’t know there’s a problem until it’s a serious issue. Knowing the signs of potential illness in your cat is the key to keeping him healthy, so watch for the following signs and symptoms. If you notice them in your cat, don’t wait to get him to a vet to make sure it’s nothing serious.
If your cat has lost more than 10 percent of its body weight, you need to be concerned.
If your cat has lost more than 10 percent of its body weight, you need to be concerned. Sudden weight loss in pets could stem from something as innocu- Feature ous as a change in diet or it could indicate such life-threatening diseases as diabetes or cancer. Other medical conditions that could prompt dramatic weight loss are liver disease, periodontal disease, thyroid condition, kidney failure, digestive system obstruction, or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).
The normal temperature in cats is approximately 100 to 103 degrees, and if you notice that your cat has a temperature higher than that, consider a visit to the vet. A fever is not something to ignore, as it can be a sign that your cat is fighting a bacterial or viral disease, autoimmune disease, cancer, or even seizures—all of which could be life-threatening.
Changes in bowel movements
If your cat’s bowel movements start to differ from their normal frequency, consistency, color, odor, or anything else, and that change persists for longer than a day or two, it’s time to visit your veterinarian. Like other conditions, diarrhea can indicate parasites, infection, inflammatory bowel disease, or an obstruction in the bowel.
Coughing in cats is not normal—sometimes, it’s caused by hair balls, a tight collar, or allergies. But always take your cat to If your cat has lost more than 10 percent of its body weight, you need to be concerned. his vet to rule out some of the more serious possible causes, including irritation or imflammation of the airways, asthma, polyps, tumors, lung infection, or heart disease.
Does your normally playful, fun-loving cat suddenly have no interest in chasing your laser beam? If so, take note, because fatigue and lethargy in a cat can be the cause of many illnesses, some of them very serious, even life-threatening. Some of the most common ones are anemia, cardiovascular or pulmonary disorders, chronic inflammation or infection, drugs or medications, abnormalities in hormone or electrolyte levels, gastrointestinal disease, urinary tract disorders, immune diseases, cancer, severe skin disease, neurological or neuromuscular disorders, infectious diseases or exposure to toxins, or physical trauma. A long list, so be sure to see your vet if your notice a change in your cat’s energy level to rule out the most serious of these.
Many of the potential causes of a distended abdomen could be life-threatening, so take this symptom very seriously. Your cat could be suffering from a viral, bacterial or parasitic infection, a uterine infection called pyometra, tumors, kidney or liver disease, consumption of a foreign body, traumatic injury, heart failure, Cushing’s disease and more.
This symptom is potentially an emergency that can frequently result in death in a rapid time frame if not addressed. Do not wait to see if your kitty gets better. Symptoms can mean bladder stones or other obstructions, such as crystals in the urine or infection. Another thing to keep an eye on is blood in the urine. This could be a sign of those same bladder stones, as well as cancer or an infection. If you observe blood, a trip to the vet is absolutely necessary.
Loud, noisy, or open-mouthed breathing or panting at rest could be a red flag for you. Cats generally do not pant, so extended panting in a cat should not be taken as a normal breath pattern. Heart and lung disease, infections, obstructions, and more can cause sudden breathing problems. A lack of proper oxygen to tissues and major organs can result in heart failure and possibly death.
Look closely if you notice your cat has red eyes. While he could just have dust or other environmental irritants in his eye, it could also be a symptom of bacterial conjunctivitis, trauma to the eye, or some kind of corneal, skin or other eye disease. Use a soft collar or cone to prevent your cat from further irritating his eyes until you can get to the vet.
Cats who can’t sit still or keep running in and out of the cat box could be experiencing a urethral obstruction. If their restlessness is accompanied by stumbling and swaying, they may have ingested a toxic substance. Don’t take chances—see your vet.
Cats that suddenly won’t come out of the closet or from under the bed with no household changes such as a visitor, change of living arrangements, etc., may be trying to tell you that they’re sick, stressed, in pain, unhappy, or scared. If you notice this behavior for a few days, go see your vet.
Never ignore repeated vomiting in your cat, because no matter the reason, it will almost certainly lead to dehydration, which will only exacerbate any underlying cause. A few times a month is generally considered normal, but twice daily for two or more days is not and warrants a trip to the vet.
In our older and possibly younger cats increased thirst or a sudden decreased thirst can signal that something is changing. It can be hormonal, infectious, viral or cancerous. A change in water drinking in either direction may be the first sign that your kitty is experiencing a health change.
If your cat avoids food for more than 24 hours, have him checked immediately.
Decreased or lack of appetite
Cats are different from dogs and, while they may be picky, cats can develop liver failure if they don’t eat—especially larger cats. If your cat avoids food for more than 24 hours, have him checked immediately.
It’s not always easy for cat owners to detect when cats are sick, so tune in to your cat’s behavior and take note of changes, even subtle ones. If you’re not sure it’s a problem, check with your veterinarian, just to be safe.
The Cat Clinic is a feline-only veterinary clinic. 67870 Vista Chino, Cathedral City. (760) 325-3400, catcitycat.com