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There is nothing worse for a pet parent than having a sick pet. They’re “fur babies” for a reason, and it’s only natural for us to want to take care of them and make them feel better as fast as possible. Cats are notorious for hiding pain of any kind, which can make it difficult to tell if they’re feeling under the weather until it becomes serious. ‘How can I tell if my cat is sick’ is a question our veterinarians get asked at annual feline checkups. Noticing subtleties in a cat’s behavior could signal that it is feeling unwell or getting sick.
The first thing to understand about cats getting sick is why they refuse to let others know they’re sick in the first place. Is it maddening? Yes. Is it strategic? Also yes.
Because cats are small animals that could be preyed upon by larger predators, signs of illness or pain could make them an easier target. Even if they’re a domesticated, entirely indoor cat this is instinct. Cats hide their ailments because it would protect them in the wild. It doesn’t necessarily make things easier for a pet owner, though.
For this reason, it’s recommended cats visit a veterinarian for routine wellness exams twice a year. This way a veterinarian can take a good look to make sure nothing is happening with their health that it isn’t telling you.
Your cat may be ill if you suddenly notice:
It is hiding a lot more than normal
Is overly tired
Refuses to play with its favorite toy
Is shedding more than usual
Has a weird discharge
Changes their potty schedule abruptly
Generally looks or acts differently than normal
These could all be signs that it’s coming down with an illness. While those may seem a bit general the important thing to remember is that often acute illnesses will be sudden so changes in behavior will be as well. Be sure to note any unusual behavior in your cat as soon as it starts. If you have questions or want real-time advice on something you’ve noticed in your feline, Fuzzy has 24/7 live vet chat to help address any of these concerns.
Like in humans, sickness in cats can range from mild to severe, and because feline’s symptoms are much more subtle, it can be almost difficult to know where they are on the pain or discomfort spectrum.
In general, seek immediate veterinary attention if a cat is experiencing breathing problems, abnormalities in the eyes (droopy eyelids, discharge, excessive squinting, or pupil dilation), or if it’s having difficulties using the litter box. There are a few brands of smart cat litter now available that change color based on the chemical makeup of the cat’s urine to act as an early warning sign of any changes in health. Fuzzy’s 24/7 Live Vet Chat is available to help identify whether any changes in a cat’s physical demeanor or personality are attributed to health issues.
We know it can seem overwhelming, but we’re here to help you and your fur baby every step of the way. You know your cat better than anyone, trust your instincts, and always reach out if you have questions.