A healthy cat is alert to and curious about her environment. She has a good appetite, rarely overeats, and is conscientious about her grooming. If you suspect your cat is not feeling well, look for early warning signs that might indicate an underlying health problem.
How to tell if your cat is sick
Cats are very good at hiding illnesses and tend to shy away from contact if they’re feeling under the weather. Keep an eye open for the tell-tale signs of common health problems and complete a monthly health checklist at home. If you do notice anything out of the ordinary, contact your vet immediately.
The warning signs
General lethargy: If your cat isn’t her normal self, take a closer look. Like humans, cats can just look unwell and a trip to the vet is a good idea if symptoms persist.
Repeated vomiting, gagging or sickness: Occasionally vomiting hairballs or grass is quite normal. However, persistent sickness or choking when eating can be a sign of illness, such a kidney infection.
Refusal to eat for over 24 hours: If your cat refuses food for a day or more, consult your vet.
Diarrhea: If your cat has persistent diarrhoea that lasts for longer than 48 hours, visit your vet. If possible, take a stool sample with you.
Difficulty urinating: If your cat is constipated, crying when urinating or has blood in the urine, she may have Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. This is a common condition, particularly for males, and can become life threatening if not treated early
Progressive weight loss: If your cat appears to lose weight progressively over two to four weeks, or shows a slow but steady weight loss over a longer period, consult your vet.
Excessive thirst or urination: Unusually excessive thirst and frequent urination can be a sign of feline diabetes or other medical conditions.
Itchy, flaking skin: Your cat’s skin should be smooth, and pink or black. Persistent itching and signs of dermatitis could indicate an allergic reaction, particularly to fleabites.
Red or swollen gums: Reddened or swollen gums, particularly when associated with bad breath, are an indication of gum disease. When severe, cats may lose teeth, drop food from their mouths and suffer weight loss due to difficulty eating.
Runny eyes or nose: Sneezing, panting, runny eyes and nose, gasping or shortness of breath may be signs of respiratory problems.
Proactively checking for cat health problems is an excellent way to keep track of your cat’s body condition.