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10 Signs and Symptoms of a Sick Cat


Cats are infamous for disguising illnesses. Unfortunately, this implies that sick cat symptoms go unnoticed by owners until they have gotten out of hand.

sick cat symptoms

However, you don’t need to be a veterinarian to know when something is wrong with your pet.

This blog post will make you more attuned to spotting a sick cat’s top 10 common signs and symptoms.

Additionally, the earlier you spot them, the easier the treatment will be! Let’s get started

1.   Changes in Appearance or Weight

When a cat isn’t feeling well, it may appear a little “off.” It may hunch over, move less gracefully, tilt its head awkwardly, or carry its tail differently.

You may notice subtle changes that may not even stand out.

When a cat is sick, dehydration is the typical issue. The VCA Animal Hospitals recommends the following steps:

  1. Gently grab your cat’s skin at the shoulder blades
  2. pull it away from its body, and
  3. release it and observe.

If the skin immediately snaps back into place, then your cat is not dehydrated. But if the skin seems “tented up,” this usually suggests dehydration. 

Cats with chronic illnesses may experience gradual weight loss, only noticeable when you run your hands over the ribs and spine.

If you think they suddenly lost weight, especially if they were overweight before, this may be a sign that your Fluffy Friend has a metabolic disorder such as diabetes or hyperthyroidism.

2.   Changes in Personality

sick cat symptoms

Although it depends on each cat’s personality, sick felines typically become reclusive and may even hide.

Some cats get angrier than usual or clingier, while others get needier. Unwell cats typically have reduced energy levels. Your cat may sleep more, play less, or be restless.

Also, if your cat seems to be hyperactive all of a sudden, this may be a sign of hyperthyroidism.

Cats with hyperthyroidism can’t sleep at night and may wake you up with their yowling.

Tabbies with joint issues or arthritis may find it challenging to move around, cease jumping up onto tables or other higher surfaces, or may change the way that they jump.

If your fluffball suddenly can’t use its hind legs, go to the vet immediately.

Though it may be common for older cats to have arthritis, we recommend the use of an orthopedic pillow to keep them as comfortable as it gets!

3.   Changes in Excretion

Constipation and diarrhea are both symptoms of illness in cats.

Constipation can be harder to spot in the litterbox than diarrhea. Small, dry, hard stools are abnormal and can signify kidney disease.

If there’s more pee in the litter box than usual, this suggests that your kitty’s body can’t conserve water and may signal that it is developing kidney, liver, or diabetes mellitus issues.

Less urine can also be a sign of a kidney or bladder issue. If you notice your feline frequently entering and exiting the box or strains to pee, she may have urinary tract issues.

Cats with urinary tract infections excessively lick their genitalia.

You should seek immediate veterinary care if you observe that your cat is not urinating as frequently as expected or that the urine clumps are small.

Related: 10 Cat Breeds That Get Along With Dogs

4.   Changes in Appetite or Thirst

sick cat symptoms

Any change in thirst or appetite is always a cause for concern.

Kitties with dental disorders will be picky with their food.

But cats that suffer from metabolic diseases, such as diabetes mellitus or hyperthyroidism, may be too hungry or too thirsty

Additionally, cats with liver or kidney issues typically have increased thirst but may lose their appetite.

Get in touch with a vet immediately if your cat hasn’t eaten or drank water properly within 24 hours.

Anorectic cats are more likely to develop hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver disease, which causes them to lose their appetites for long periods.

If diagnosed with fatty liver syndrome, your cat will need intensive medical care for weeks to months.

When you notice that your Fluffy Friend stops asking for food regularly or less than they used to, pay attention!

5.   Hair Loss or Skin Issues

When your tabby is not feeling well, you might notice that it’s not grooming itself as much as before.

As a result, you may frequently see an unkempt or oily coat, fur matting, or masses of loose hair.

Sometimes, you might notice a change in the coat’s sheen or dandruff. On the other hand, excessive self-grooming in cats could also be an issue.

If you think your cat is grooming more than usual, it may be a response to stress, a skin issue like allergies, a parasite like fleas, mites, or ringworm, pain from an ailment like arthritis, or a problem with the bladder.

Always remember that cats that excessively lick one place too much may have rashes or other skin issues.

And when you take your kitty to the vet, bring their travel bag with you so you can carry them comfortably.

6.   Unusual Eye, Nose, and Ear Discharge

Discharge from the eyes or nose indicates a probable upper respiratory infection.

As a result, your furry pet can become ill and lose its appetite.

This may be contagious to your other pets at home. In this case, the vet may recommend medication to treat the infection.

If your cat has ear discharge or debris, it may have ear mites or an ear infection.

If left unattended, the eardrum may be affected. Ear problems are very uncomfortable and may cause your feline to shake its head frequently.

Related: 10 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Getting your First Puppy

7.   Swelling, Lumps, or Bumps

It’s crucial to pay attention to any swelling in the body. For one thing, it can be an abscess developed from a wound, but it could also be something more serious.

Observe the area and consult your veterinarian if it hurts your cat if you touch the lump, if it is hot to the touch, or if there’s no improvement within a few days.

8.   Breath Issues

sick cat symptoms

Bad breath may indicate dental concerns.

Though mild halitosis may not be an emergency, your cat’s teeth must be examined the next time you visit the vet. But severe halitosis should be treated urgently.

Additionally, keep an eye out for excessive drooling and mouth bleeding.

If your cat gets an oral infection, the bacteria may spread throughout the body. The heart and other organs may be affected.

Wheezing, shallow breathing, panting, or abnormal breathing difficulties are very serious.

Cats with breathing issues frequently sleep with their neck and head extended or may have problems sleeping normally.

Sneezing or coughing fits that recur frequently are also indicators of illness.

9.   Vomiting

While cats occasionally vomit a hairball or throw up right after eating, frequent vomiting for more than a few days is not normal.

Also, remember that dehydration could result from vomiting that lasts longer than two days.

Observe how often your feline vomits and what it looks like when it does.

If you notice that the vomit has blood, looks unusual, or is too frequent, a trip to the vet is necessary.

Keep in mind to keep your tabby in a car travel box to avoid messy clean-ups.

Frequent vomiting may indicate:

  • Cancer
  • Liver issues
  • Infection
  • Intestinal obstruction

Related: How to Introduce Cats to Dogs

10.   Increased Vocalisation

Cats may be trying to communicate with you when they suddenly become too noisy.

Increased vocalisation may mean that your feline is in pain, is experiencing gastric discomfort, or possibly has a neurological condition.

A cat that meows more frequently than usual for longer than 24 to 36 hours can have a serious underlying health issue.

Then again, it could signal something entirely innocent, like their favourite toy is missing or that they’re hungry.

sick cat symptoms


As you’re the pet-parent, you are the only person who truly knows your cat.

It is always advisable to trust your instinct and make an appointment with your veterinarian if you see behavioural or physical changes in your pet.

Even the slightest indication of cat disease might result in a more serious health issue if not addressed immediately.

Pet illness may cause anxiety. We invite you to get your pet an anti-anxiety pet bed, as it’s a great solution to help your Fluffy Friend be more comfortable during recovery.


  • Thanks for sharing informations regarding fur babies.

    Carolyn Simmons
  • thank you for all the info,i take all my pets to vet regularly

    diane m. kane

  • Great information. Thank you

    Leslie Eppley
  • We recently Lhasa to put our elderly cat to sleep. Our other cat is very clingy since . Is she missing her companion

    Fiona Doolan

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