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December 2023

How To Tell If Your Cat is Really Sick

Saturday, July 7, 2018
posted by Jim Murphy

Sometimes my 13 year old cat Millie is running around the house like crazy, other times she is quietly lying in the bedroom and really not moving around at all. There are times I may think that she’s not feeling well. Cats are funny creatures, they tend to hide their ailments pretty well. There are other things to look for to tell whether or not your cat is just being a lazy cat or is really sick. First of all is she doing the things she normally does? Millie loves to be brushed every time I get out of the shower. She sits by the bed and waits or meows telling me that it’s time. Is she drinking and eating normally? Is she using her litter box? Pet MD has also put together a list of things that you should look for to determine if your feline friend needs some medical care.

Overall, you’ll want to look for any changes in your cat’s normal routine or behavior. Any abrupt change that lasts for more than a few days may be an indicator of a more serious issue. Watch out for the following changes:

  • Decreased Movement: although many cat owners will attribute a decrease in activity to old age, it can actually be a sign of arthritis or other ailments, said Michelle Newfield, DVM at Gause Boulevard Veterinary Hospital in Slidell, Louisiana. If your cat is not jumping up on counters or running around after a toy like she used to, she may be experiencing joint pain.
  • Changes in Grooming Habits: if your cat suddenly stops grooming herself, take note, as an unkempt coat and poor grooming habits can be indicative of thyroid disease or a sign of poor health. You’ll also want to look for excessive itching or licking in addition to shedding or hair loss, says Christina Chambreau, DVM and associate editor of the Integrative Veterinary Care Journal. A dry, oily or lack-luster coat also can be a sign of larger issue.
  • Unusual Bowel Movements: Large or more frequent stools can be a sign of an internal disease or issue, Newfield said. Bloody stools should also be addressed immediately.
  • Changes in Attitude or Behavior: if your older cat starts acting spunkier, don’t rejoice too quickly, as over-active behavior might be a sign of hyperthyroidism, Newfield said. Additionally, if your cat is suddenly fearful, overly timid or rough, or you notice any major change in behavior, those also can be signs of a problem, Chambreau said.
  • Increased Hairballs or Vomit: unless the hairballs your cat coughed up are comprised completely of hair, chances are high that your cat actually vomited, Newfield said. Vomiting repeatedly can mean your cat has heartworm or other ailments.

If you think your cat may be sick. Don’t wait, take her to the vet for a checkup. It may be a very important visit!

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