Signs Your Cat Is Sick

While humans might complain, stock up on tissues, or cry when they’re feeling sick, this doesn’t happen with our pets. They can’t talk, and in the case of cats, they’re good at hiding when they’re ill or in pain. It’s not always obvious, and you need to keep a sharp eye out to tell when something isn’t right. So, what signs should you look for? When do you need to call the vet and set up an emergency appointment?

Please note that your cat isn’t doing these things to punish or spite you. If you suspect something is “off” about your pet, don’t put off reaching out to your vet, no matter how silly or trivial you think your concern might be.

  • They’re not eating (at least, not as much as they usually do). If your cat loves food and starts skipping meals (or doesn’t eat at all), this is a huge red flag. Keep in mind that an increase in appetite can also be a sign of problems.
  • Strange vocalization. While some cats like to make themselves known (especially in the middle of the night when you’ve just fallen asleep), should your cat start howling and vocalizing in an unusually loud way, they could be in distress.
  • Poor grooming, hair loss, and/or excessive licking. Does your cat’s coat look neglected? Are they shedding excessively? Do they lick themselves a lot in addition to showing signs of hair loss or poor grooming? You could have a problem on your hands.
  • While it’s common for them to cough up the occasional hairball, if your cat has been vomiting for several hours, seek out help from an expert. If they’re lethargic or have diarrhea, too, it’s time to worry.
  • Abnormal breathing or panting. When cats struggle to breathe properly (whether they’re rasping or wheezing), they need medical attention. If it’s after work hours for your vet, take them to an emergency clinic immediately.
  • They’re not using the litter box. While it’s true that the cause could be anything from stress (perhaps due to a recent move) to an unclean box, it’s important to rule out health problems if the issue persists.

Above all, don’t try to treat your cat’s ailments with human medicine or another pet’s medicine. You could easily make things worse, from giving them the wrong dosage to giving them something that won’t mix well with any prescriptions.