What are the telltale signs your cat is sick? And what should you do? Here's what your veterinarian wants you to know.
Everyone knows cats rule the house. Cats also do strange things, like hack up hairballs, "sing" in the middle of the night, and sleep like a rock. So how can you tell if your cat isn't feeling good? Look for some of the obvious signs your cat is sick.
Since cats can't talk—at least in human languages—it's our job as cat owners to watch for and recognize the signs. You know your cat's behavior. Changes in that behavior are usually an indication that we need to keep an eye on our feline friend.
More specifically, though, what are the signs your cat is sick? And what should you do about it? Here is what veterinarians across the country have to say on the matter.
10 Signs Your Cat Is Sick and What to Do Next
1. Change in appetite
Watch for changes in your cat's appetite. There are a number of medical reasons a cat might begin eating less or more—anything from a parasite to dental issues. Contact your veterinarian and ask them to examine your cat.
2. Litter box changes
If your usually tidy cat begins to urinate outside the litter box, he could be mad at you or he could have a bladder infection. This behavior requires a trip to your vet.
Every cat coughs up a hairball now and then, but frequent vomiting, especially after eating, may indicate a blockage or other problem. If you notice your cat vomiting more often than normal, alert your vet.
Diarrhea may be a symptom of an upset stomach or something more serious. In the case of diarrhea accompanied by vomiting or lethargy, notify your vet right away.
5. Abnormal temperature
A cat's normal temperature is between 100 and 103 degrees. Anything above or below those numbers is an invitation to call your vet. This, of course, means you'll need to take your cat's temperature. Vetstreet offers this tutorial on taking your cat's temperature:
"To take your cat’s temperature, lubricate a rectal thermometer (petroleum jelly or personal lubricant are both OK to use) and insert it 1 to 1.5 inches into the cat's rectum. Depending on the thermometer, leave it there from 10 seconds to a minute."
6. Change in interactions
The Princeton Veterinary Hospital notes that changes in your cat's behavior and interactions are some of the most frequent signs your cat is sick. A lap cat who becomes reclusive or an independent cat who suddenly craves attention could be altering their interactions because they don't feel well.
7. Cat breath
You may know this as dog breath, but the fact is, noticeably bad breath may be a sign of a poor diet or "indicate periodontal disease or other oral issues such as chronic inflammation or masses," according to Muddy Creek Animal Care Center.
8. Changes in water consumption
Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Hospital notes that a change in the amount of water your cat drinks could "indicate many types of disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease."
9. Increased vocalization
The Mid-Atlantic Veterinary Hospital also points out that an increase in meowing could indicate a serious health problem such as thyroid disease or high blood pressure.
10. Grooming changes
While cats like to keep themselves clean, especially vigorous grooming sessions—to the point of hair loss or matting—can be a symptom of a more serious medical problem. The Cat Hospital, in Campbell, California, mentions that "patches of hair loss or a greasy or matted appearance can signal an underlying disease."
What to Do With a Sick Cat
Although there are plenty of online options for diagnosing and treating a sick cat, your best option is to talk to your vet. A phone call is free, and they may be able to treat your concerns over the phone without seeing your cat. Sometimes they may suggest just keeping a watchful eye on your feline.
The other problem with trying to diagnose and treat your cat at home is that, as with dogs, so many illnesses can have similar symptoms. For instance, abdominal pain could indicate an infection, poisoning, liver disease, and multiple other medical problems, according to Pet Care RX.
One addition that will help you cover the cost of your cat's medical bills is pet insurance. Contact your Pekin Insurance agent today to make sure you have coverage for your furry friend.