How to Tell If Your Cat Is Sick: Signs & Symptoms

It's always worrisome for pet owners when they think their cat has become ill. Today, our San Diego vets share some tips on how to tell if your cat is sick, and how you can care for them.

Recognizing a Sick Cat

Sometimes, our cats become sick and it can be challenging to tell what’s making them feel ill. While a qualified veterinarian can give them a thorough annual physical exam, issues may occur between visits that can lead your cat to get seriously ill.

If you notice these signs and symptoms, your cat may be sick and require medical attention:

  • Losing or gaining weight
  • Dilated or constricted pupils
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Hiding
  • Sudden shift in mood
  • Bad breath
  • Lethargy or no inclination to play
  • Swelling or wounds
  • Injuries or limping
  • Discharge from nose or eyes
  • Much less or much more vocal than usual
  • Sudden changes in appetite, eating or drinking habits
  • Changes in breathing
  • Skin irritation or hair loss
  • Neglecting grooming or over-grooming
  • Improper use of litter box

Keep in mind that you know your cat best and will likely be able to sense when they are not acting like their regular selves. Even if they have one of these symptoms but do not seem to be in pain, schedule a visit with your vet.

Possible Causes of Cats Illnesses

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.

Helping Your Sick Cat

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. 

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Are you worried your cat may be sick? Contact our San Diego vets to have your kitty diagnosed and treated.