It happens all too often — by the time an owner realizes her cat is sick, the cat is very sick.
Cats are cunning creatures. Most are not known for showing their emotions, which can make it tough for caring pet owners to tell if their cat isn’t feeling well. Here are signs and symptoms you should look for to determine if your cat is indeed sick and at what point you should see a veterinarian.
1. Change in appetite
Eating too much or too little can potentially signify disease. If you notice a change either way, you should notify your veterinarian. There are countless diseases that can cause overeating or losing one’s appetite. You veterinarian’s job will be to investigate why.
2. Weight change
Weight loss can be an indication of thyroid disease or worse, cancer. Weight gain or a growing belly can be related to various conditions such as pyometra (a uterus full of pus). Obesity by itself is detrimental to your pet’s health: it can lead to arthritis, tumors and a shorter lifespan.
3. Behavior change
If your normally social kitty suddenly becomes antisocial, there may be a medical reason. A classic sign of illness is hiding: kitty feels bad, tries to hide from “predators” and hides in a closet or under a bed.
4. Activity change
A sudden increase in activity level in a middle-aged to older kitty can indicate an overactive thyroid. If your kitty seems less than enthusiastic about moving around or playing, it may indicate arthritis or other issues.
5. Sleep pattern change
If your cat seems to sleep all day when he used to be active, he may be trying to tell you he doesn’t feel well. The opposite is also true. If your kitty is up all night roaming the house, vocalizing, or seems overactive during the day, there might be an underlying cause.
6. Voice change
Voice changes can actually indicate a problem. Normally quiet cats with an increase in vocalizations, or a usually chatty kitty which suddenly becomes quiet, might mean trouble.
7. Grooming change
Lack of grooming can cause a dull or greasy hair coat, which can indicate skin disease or other problems. Some cats over-groom and end up with bald patches. Skin parasites, like fleas or mange, or even stress can cause this behavior.