Cat Illness Symptoms – How Do I Know When My Cat Is Sick?

An important part of being a responsible cat owner is keeping an eye on your cat’s health and making sure they are taken to a vet if any problems arise.

However, it can sometimes be difficult to know if your cat is unwell. In this article we’ll look at some of the things you can check if you are concerned that your cat might be ill.

If you see any signs of concern, or are generally worried about your cat’s well-being, we strongly recommend you contact a vet for advice.

Signs your cat may be sick

  • Changes to your cat’s appetite
    • If there has been either an increase or decrease in appetite this may indicate that something is wrong
    • If your cat refuses food for more than 24 hours, then this is a clear sign of concern
  • Changes to your cat’s drinking behaviour
    • Be aware of how much water your cat is drinking – dehydration can be a serious issue for your cat but an increase in water intake can also indicate a problem
  • You can manually check for dehydration
    • Gently get hold of the skin between
      your cats shoulder blades (some people call this the ‘scruff’)
    • Slowly and carefully pull the skin away from the body slightly, then let go
    • If the skin doesn’t quickly snap back into place then this is a sign your cat is probably dehydrated
  • Changes to your cat’s litter box habits
    • Is your cat having difficulty going to the toilet, straining and spending more time than usual in the litter tray?
    • If you see blood in the urine then this is a cause for concern
    • Contact your vet for advice immediately if your cat seems to be trying but unable to pass urine
  • Vomiting and diarrhoea
    • Either can be a sign of health issues
  • Respiratory problems
    • If you cat is having breathing difficulties this is a sign of a health problem
    • Listen for shallow or quick breathing and look for an open mouth
  • Changes in your cat’s  weight and body shape
    • Changes in weight can be a sign of illness
    • Be aware of both sudden and gradual changes in weight, either can be a sign that your cat has a health problem
  • Changes in your cat’s coat and grooming behaviour
    • If your cat is unwell it may be lethargic, meaning it won’t be able to maintain the same standard of grooming
    • If you see that your cat’s coat has become dull and matted, this could either be a sign of stress or a sign of illness
  • Changes in your cat’s activity level
    • Again, a sick cat may have low energy levels which can lead to lower activity levels and lethargy
    • Behavioural changes or hyperactivity should also be investigated

Want to know more?

We hope this article helped you to know the possible signs of cat illness. However, if you have another question about cat illness symptoms, your cat’s health, or other facts about your feline friend then we’d like to help – sign up to our newsletter below.


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