Is Your Cat Sick? Watch for 10 Subtle Signs

Feline Wellness- Part 2

Is your cat sick and you don’t know it?

 Watch for these 10 subtle signs

Cats are very skilled at hiding diseases, especially in the early stages.  Learn the top 10 subtle signs of illness in cats and why discussing these changes during an exam is important for your cat.

  1. jonah filesInappropriate elimination behavior
    •  A cat urinating inappropriately can indicate a number of medical disorders such as kidney disease, a urinary tract infection, urinary blockage, diabetes, arthritis, among many others.  Not treating some of these conditions can be life-threatening, so it is best to address them early.
  2. Changes in interaction
    • Changes in the way your cat interacts with you, other family members, or other pets in the house could also signal signs of disease, pain, fear, or anxiety.
  3. Changes in activity
    • Many medical conditions can lead to a decrease or increase in activity, particularly as cats age.
  4. Changes in sleeping habits
    • The average adult cat may spend 16 to 18 hours per day sleeping.  Much of this time is more napping, and your cat should respond quickly to stimuli, such as you walking into the room or petting your cat.  If there is a change in your cat’s sleeping patterns, this could indicate an underlying disease.
  5. Changes in food and water consumption
    • Most cats are not picky eaters, so decreased food intake can be a sign of dental disease, cancer, or many other problems.  An increase in food intake, sometimes noted by begging, can signal diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and many others.
    • Changes in water consumption can sometimes be difficult to observe, but can indicate many types of disease, such as diabetes, kidney disease, and thyroid disease.
    • If food and water intake is questionable, you can measure the food and water given, and then re-measure what is left at the end of the day to get a more accurate idea as to how much is being consumed.
  6. Unexplained weight loss or gain
    • Sometimes, changes in weight are not always correlated with changes in appetite.  Nausea, thyroid disease, and diabetes are three types of disease that can cause weight loss in cats.  Overweight cats are more at risk of developing diabetes and joint problems, so it is important that if weight gain is observed, to address it early to help prevent these problems.
  7. Changes in grooming
    • An increase in your cat grooming itself can indicate a skin or behavioral problem, while a decrease in grooming could be a sign of pain, arthritis, obesity, or other underlying disease.  You may notice your cat becoming matted or the hair clumping together more, especially near the tail.
  8. Signs of stress
    • Despite the relaxed and easy life of a cat, your cat can still become stressed.  Often, boredom and lifestyle changes are common stressors in cats.  Stressed cats can spend more or less time grooming, more time hiding and not interacting with family members, can change their eating patterns, among many others.  Changes in your family, such as adding a new pet, should be done gradually since cats are so easily stressed, and we can discuss this with you to make these types of transitions successful.
  9. Changes in vocalization
    • An increase in vocalization with your cat can be a sign of thyroid disease or high blood pressure.  Cats will vocalize more if they are in pain or afraid.  A routine examination will help to determine if your cat is at risk.
  10. Bad breath
    • Up to 70% of cats have dental disease by age 3.  It is important to have your cat’s teeth checked regularly to help prevent dental disease from an early age.  More severe dental disease can be painful and may warrant dental cleanings or oral surgery, so prevention is key.

Many of these signs are treatable and can help to improve your cat’s overall quality of life.  It is important to address them early can prevent your cat from suffering later in life.

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