Your furry feline friend can't tell you when they don't feel well, which makes your job as a pet parent challenging at times. Wondering whether your cat is sick or just tired is troubling at best.
If your cat is sick, then the sooner they receive medical care, the better chances they have at returning to their former state of good health quickly. But if you're not sure whether your cat needs a veterinarian's help or not, take a look at the top signs that should give you pause.
1. Changed Appetite
Your usually healthy eater doesn't want anything to do with the food bowl. When a cat suddenly snubs their breakfast, lunch, and dinner, the change may be a red flag that something is wrong.
Taking your cat to the vet for a visit is important if they can't or won't eat. Ignoring this potentially serious symptom could allow the underlying cause to grow or worsen. Delaying treatment can also lead to dehydration or a severely low body weight.
2. Declined Grooming
Instead of keeping themselves clean, your cat has mats, dirty patches, and just doesn't seem to care. Ignoring their own grooming may be a sign of old age. But it may also be a signal that something more serious is wrong.
3. Increased Grooming
Keep in mind that losing interest isn't the only grooming-related change to look for. If your cat is suddenly overattentive to their grooming, constantly licks their fur or is chewing patches of fur away, they may have an allergy, a dermatological condition, or a psychological or behavioral issue.
4. Altered Attitude
The normally affectionate cat that you've come to know is gone, and in their place is a shy, timid creature. Whether your cat goes from lively to low-key or relaxed to raucous, a change in attitude or behavior is a reason to call the vet for a visit.
While this change may be a temporary reaction to a change (such as the introduction of a new pet or a home move), it may also indicate a physical problem.
5. Changed Bowel Movements
Cleaning your cat's litter box daily is an easy way to tell if something is going on with their gastrointestinal system. If you notice more stools than usual, fewer stools than usual (or none at all), loose stools, or bloody stools, you need to call the vet right away.
While there's no precise number of bowel movements that a cat should have in a day or a week, the quantity should remain roughly consistent from day to day.
6. Altered Gum Color
Your cat's gums should be a pinkish color. Pale or white gums are often a sign that something physical is wrong. Likewise, if your cat's tongue is no longer pink (and is white or pale), you need to call the veterinarian for an appointment.
7. Elevated Lethargy or Sleepiness
For some cats, sleep is a normal state of being - especially if they're older. But if your cat seems overly tired (in comparisons to their normal activity level), is physically limp, or just won't get up and play, the vet needs to investigate possible problems.
8. Unexplained Vomiting
Some cats get hairballs every now and then, and these can cause your feline to vomit. Vomiting a hairball up once in a while typically isn't cause for alarm. But frequent, sudden, or unexplained (there is no hairball) vomiting may be a sign that your cat has eaten something toxic, is in gastrointestinal distress, or has an allergy or new sensitivity.
9. Raised Anger or Aggression
A cat who is typically sweet but now hisses and swats everyone away may be in pain. If the cat's behavior is uncharacteristically difficult or even dangerous, a physical or behavioral issue may be the culprit behind the sudden switch.
10. Increased Isolation or Hiding
Hiding in response to a major life change or the introduction of a new person or pet is common for cats. But hiding or isolating themselves for no reason is not. If your cat's hide-and-seek game is sudden, new, or out of character, it may be a sign of a more serious condition.
Does your cat need a checkup? Contact Dr. Butchko for more information.