Whats the topic for today?

I thought I’d talk about what signs to look out for when your cat is sick.  Cats can be quite elusive when they are sick and the signs they show can be quite subtle so it’s easy to overlook sickness in cats.

Cats tend to go off and hide somewhere when they are sick don’t they?
They can certainly become quite lethargic and spend most of the day sleeping somewhere in private. Cats normally sleep for 16 to 18 hrs a day but most of this is catnapping and they quickly become alert again when someone walks into the room. If your cat seems more sleepy than usual when you approach it then it may be sick.

Do cats always become lethargic and sleepy when they are sick.
No there are some illnesses that actually make the cat more active or hyperactive. An overactive thyroid gland can do that. Sick cats can also become quite aggressive as they are either in pain or just want to be left alone as they feel vulnerable.

So a change in normal activity or behaviour can indicate illness?
Thats right. Also a change in toileting habits is something to look out for. A sick cat is more likely to toilet inside either because there is an increased urgency to toilet or simply because they don’t feel up to the effort of going outside.

What about appetite, That must be an important thing to look out for?
Absolutely. Again you need to look for a change in appetite rather than just a decreased appetite as some diseases cause cats to have a ravenous appetite.

What about drinking water?
Yes again it is a change in water consumption to look out for. A lethargic cat may drink less but a cat with diabetes or kidney problems will drink a huge amount.

Do sick cats lose weight?
Sometimes. Weight loss is always a concern and even if the cat appears to be normal in other ways they should always be taken to the vet for a check up. There is usually an underlying reason for the weight loss. There are also diseases that can make cats gain weight too so again it is a change in body weight to look out for.

What other things should people look out for?
A change in grooming habits.  Cats should keep their own coat in good condition. If they start to get a matted or scurfy coat there may something going on. It may be too painful for the cat to groom itself. Also sometimes cats will start to overgroom and make themselves bald. This is often a sign of skin disease.

Do cats make a lot of noise when they are sick?
Sometimes cats will start howling for no apparent reason but it can be due to a variety of things from pain to an increase in blood pressure affecting the brain. Sometimes they will howl if they have suddenly become blind.

Is there anything else we should look out for?
Bad breath is something that people often notice about their cats. That can be due to bad teeth or gum disease but more commonly its due to a sore throat.

Would the cat be coughing if it had a sore throat?
No they often don’t cough. They may be off their food a little but often the only sign is the bad breath and people sometimes ignore this.

So basically if there is any change in your cats normal behaviour or appearance you should take them to see the vet.
Yes thats what it boils down to. There is usually an underlying reason for any changes you might notice. What I’ve talked about today are some of the more subtle things to look out for but don’t forget to look out for the more obvious things too like vomiting, diarrhoea, weepy eyes and noses, sneezing, fight wounds, lameness.