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How to Know If Your Cat Is Sick: Symptoms, Causes & Recovery
Cats can be difficult to read as they have evolved to remarkably mask the signs of pain and illness. This instinct protects them from predators or other cats that can be a potential threat.
However, you may notice your cat being quiet and withdrawn at the early stage. Read along to learn more about such signs or understand how to know if your cat is sick.
What Are the Common Symptoms of a Sick Cat?
It can be tricky to assess how you can tell if your cat is sick. The best way to do so is to keep noting the subtle changes in your feline friend’s body gestures and demeanour.
Here are 16 signs that inform your notoriously independent pet is unwell:
- Changes in Personality: While changes in personality are common among aged cats, if your pet cat is showing aggression, seems scared, confused or disoriented, take it to a vet.
- Noticeable Weight Loss or Gain: While weight loss among cats requires urgent attention in the short term, gaining weight is unhealthy.
- Increased or Loss of Appetite: You must not ignore overeating behaviour in your cat, whether young or aged. It is because it may eventually result in obesity and hypothyroidism. On the contrary, consult a veterinarian if your cat eats small amounts or entirely stops, as this may result in a fatty liver issue.
- Bad Breath: While this dental issue may not be urgent, if found severe, address it to a professional promptly. Further, look for bleeding and drooling from the mouth. If it has an oral infection, it may spread throughout the whole body.
- Discharges From Eyes or Nose: Your cat may stop eating and feel sick in such conditions. Further, it can be contagious if you have other pets in your house.
- Unkempt Coat: This is a common sign that indicates skin concerns, or maybe the cat is in pain.
- Ear Debris: If you notice an ear infection or parasites like ear mites, address it urgently to avoid eardrum infection.
- Vomiting: Vomiting occasionally is acceptable but excessively warrants a visit to a vet clinic.
- Diarrhoea: It indicates intestinal parasites and, if left untreated, may lead to intestinal inflammation and dehydration.
- Swelling: This can happen due to a wound that has turned into an abscess. However, this can be a tumour and demands professional help.
- Limping: This refers to an injury. However, your cat may eat and act normally in such a condition.
- Hiding: Though cats are masters of secrecy, hiding may indicate that your pet is unwell.
- Dilated Pupils: While temporary dilation of your cat’s pupils is normal, if it is persistent, visit a veterinarian.
- Skin Irritation: This can be painful for your feline friend and requires immediate treatment.
- Increased Thirst: It is not a common sight to see a cat drinking water. If your pet cat drinks more than usual, address the concern.
- Abnormality in Urination: Schedule an appointment with a professional if you notice an abnormality in the quantity or frequency of urine or blood discharge in the urine.
Though now you understand how to know if your cat is sick, you must learn the reasons behind them to take preventive actions on time.
What Are the Common Causes of Illness in Cats?
Here are reasons why your furry friend may exhibit the above-listed symptoms:
- Stress and Ageing: Your feline friend may act depressed, oddly quiet or extremely vocal due to stress and ageing. Abrupt environmental changes or modifications in the schedule trigger such behavioural changes. Besides, cats are susceptible to upper respiratory infections that may result in rapid or shortness of breath, which will noticeably reduce your cat's enthusiasm for playing.
- Insufficient Food or Other: Your pet cat may rapidly lose weight due to insufficient food. This results in the development of other diseases like gastrointestinal problems.
- Diabetes or Other Health Issues: If you notice a sudden increase in appetite in your pet cat, it indicates diabetes, inflammatory bowel concerns and, in worse cases, intestinal cancer. If you notice it gains weight abnormally, it can be due to arthritis, fluid retention, spaying, neutering, medications, pregnancy and Acromegaly.
- Dental Issue: Bad breath is a potential sign of periodontal disease or toothache. Over time, this symptom may develop into the severe liver, kidney and heart disease.
- Eye Disorders: Causes behind eye debris in cats are conjunctivitis, upper respiratory infections, dry eye, corneal disorders, etc. Now nasal discharges occur due to congenital abnormality, allergic rhinitis, and viral infections.
- No Appropriate Care: A common reason behind the poor health condition of your furry friend is not taking appropriate care by giving frequent baths, not maintaining nutrition level and ignoring weight issues.
- Ear Mites: Some common causes of ear discharges among cats are ear mites and infections.
- Eating Intolerant Food: Non-infectious irritants such as poisonous plants and toxins, changes in diet, allergies to specific ingredients and food intolerances cause vomiting.
- Coming in Contact With Viruses: Infectious pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and coccidia and intestinal worms like roundworms, hookworms, and whipworms are the common causes of diarrhoea among cats.
- Organ Enlargement: You may find your pet cat's belly to be swollen due to the enlargement of organs, such as the liver, spleen, kidney, gastrointestinal tract, bladder and uterus.
- Limping: Orthopedic conditions like arthritis, patellar luxation, cardiovascular disorders, and neurological injuries like compressed spinal cord are responsible for such behaviour.
- Danger or Fear: This behaviour develops if your furry friend feels a sense of fear or danger. In addition, health issues like cancer, gastrointestinal problems, dental disorders, or cardiac and kidney ailments are responsible for the same.
- Damage or Anxiety: Your cat's pupils may seem abnormally dilated due to damage in the retina in the back of its eye or glaucoma. This may also occur due to anxiety.
- Parasite: The primary cause behind skin irritation among cats are allergies, parasites and bacterial and yeast infections among cats.
- Thyroid or Other Ailment: If your cat drinks more water than usual, it is a sure-shot indication of kidney ailments, diabetes or thyroid concerns.
- Infection: The main reasons behind litter box trouble include bacterial infections, bladder stones, frustration, stress, anxiety, change in daily routine, etc.
Now that you know why cats fall sick, learn about the recovery methods.
What Can You Do If Your Cat Is Sick?
Your furry friend can develop several common illnesses. Taking action as soon as you notice the symptoms will allow you to do the needful and bring it back to its frisky self.
Here are a few tips to take care of your sick cat:
1. Maintain a Proper Diet
- Encourage your cat to eat in small quantities from time to time.
- The diet must contain palatable, easily digestible, energy-rich food items and fluids.
- Ensure you are warming the food to body temperature to make it more appealing to your little feline friend.
- In case you find that your cat is not eating voluntarily, try feeding it with your hands. Veterinarians often suggest providing fluids via a syringe. You may take your cat to a clinic for the necessary supportive care if not possible.
- It is wise to consult a professional to know the foods you should not offer.
2. Groom It From Time to Time
- Cats generally do not need frequent baths due to their propensity to keep themselves clean and groomed. Therefore, if your cat has stopped grooming, you should help it. Start with gentle brushing once a day.
- Use wet cotton balls or a soft cloth to gently wipe off discharges from its nose, ears, eyes, and paws, if any, using warm water.
- Cats may develop tartar on their teeth, resulting in gum disease and tooth decay. Therefore, brush their teeth once in a while.
3. Avoid Phenol-based Disinfectants
- Effective disinfectant ingredients like hydrogen peroxide, bleach, alcohol and any phenol-based chemical compound are a potential threat to cats. You can consult a veterinarian for a cat-friendly option to clean your place.
- Another easy way to keep your beloved pet away from these toxins is by storing them somewhere out of its reach. Further, keep your cat out of the room while cleaning it.
4. Stick to Medicines Prescribed by the Veterinarian
- It is essential to strictly follow the frequency and dosage of medication as prescribed by your pet’s veterinarian.
- You should make sure to complete the entire treatment to fasten the process.
- If you face difficulties giving the medicines, crush the tablets, mix them well with some water, and feed them with a syringe. However, ensure to approve this process by the veterinarian to avoid compromised results. If this also does not work out, ask for a liquid formulation.
5. Keep a Close Eye
- Monitor how much your cat is drinking and eating.
- Keep a note of urination and defecation to understand any new or abnormal signs like coughing, sneezing, vomiting or diarrhoea.
The above guide might have given you a comprehensive idea of how to know if your cat is sick. However, it is not enough to take optimal care of your furry friend. You must take it for annual health check-ups and ensure it gets annual vaccinations, flea care and worming treatment.