How to tell if your cat is ill – 7 symptoms to watch out for

how to tell if your cat is ill
Cats will try and hide their illness, so it’s important to know the symptoms ©Nirzar Pangarkar on Unsplash

Wouldn’t things be easier if our pets could tell us exactly how they were feeling? Instead, it’s up to us to learn the signs and symptoms of illness so that we can be there for them when they need it most. Today, we’ll be discussing how to tell if your cat is ill.

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We love our fluffy little feline friends – but did you know that they can be a little sneaky when it comes to illness? We’d go as far as calling cats experts at hiding how they really feel. They’re genetically programmed to hide any sign of weakness. In the wild, showing any sign of vulnerability would increase the threat of predators, so it comes naturally to them despite living in a threat-free environment.

It’s up to you, as a cat parent, to know how to tell if your cat is ill. That way, you can get them to the vets where treatment should be needed. Here are 7 symptoms to watch out for in your cat.

#1 Hiding away

Have you noticed that your normally sociable cat hasn’t been around as much, or seems to be hiding away under a chair or behind the bookshelf? One of the first thing cats tend to do when they’re under the weather is hide away. Again, this all comes down to instinct – they’re trying to avoid potential threats whilst they’re not their strong, fearless self.

#2 Changes in toilet habits

Whether it’s runny stools, going to the toilet more often, passing less urine than normal, or pooing outside the litter box, a change in toilet habits is a common symptom of illness in cats. Toilet changes could be caused by anything from bladder stone to tumours, so veterinary attention is essential to figure out the underlying cause.

#3 Constantly sleeping

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how to tell if your cat is ill
Cats sleep a lot, but if they’re constantly lethargic, they might be ill ©Wes Hicks on Unsplash

What do cats love to do? Sleep, of course – and it’s perfectly normal for them to sleep for up to 20 hours a day. But if you’ve noticed your cat seems to be constantly napping and is unable to stay awake, an illness may be to blame. A poorly cat is often lethargic, weak and struggles to show an interest in things which once sparked their interest.

#4 Going off their food

We all know how much a healthy cat enjoys their food and tries to get as much of it as they possibly can. So if your feline buddy suddenly seems disinterested at meal times or struggles to finish their food, it could be a sign that somethings not right.

If your cat doesn’t eat enough for a few days, serious complications could arise such as hepatic lipidosis. This is a fast developing and dangerous condition, so get to the vet as soon as you can.

#5 Lack of grooming

If you’re a cat lover, you’ll have noticed just how much time cats spend perfecting and grooming themselves. Cats who lose an interest in their daily grooming routine might not be feeling quite themselves. If your little one’s fur becomes matted or greasy, an illness could be on the cards.

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#6 Bad breath

Although a cats breath might smell a little fishy, it’s usually more or less undetectable. If you notice a significant stench coming from your cat’s mouth, don’t pass it off as normal. Bad breath, or halitosis, in cats, can usually be blamed on a dental problem such as periodontal disease or a tooth abscess. However, it could also be caused by diabetes, kidney disease, or cancer.

#7 Losing hair

If you notice bald patches or a thinning coat on your four-legged friend, something suspicious could be going on. If you notice excessive itching, they might have picked up parasites or be suffering from allergies. In this case, treatment is pretty simple and there’s no need for your cat so suffer any longer. Hair loss in cats can also be down to stress or anxiety.

So, now you know how to tell if your cat is ill, try to be observant and head to the vet if you think something could be going on. No one wants a poorly kitty, right?

Read also: Psst, here are 5 facts about cats you probably didn’t even know!

I'm a Digital Media & Marketing graduate who lives in the beautiful area of North Wales. Since graduating, I've been working freelance as a copywriter and digital marketer. At the weekend, you'll find me taking and editing photographs, updating my blog (alicelang.net) or looking after my mischevious rescue cat, Mabel. I've loved animals for as long as I can remember. I've had pretty much every pet under the sun - cats, guinea pigs, hamsters, rabbits, fish, stick insects - and have spent time volunteering at animal shelters in Asia.