With felines being famously lazy creatures, it's difficult for cat owners to recognize signs of illness in their furbaby. Their long-suffering stance allows them to fall under the radar when they're experiencing any discomfort. It's in a cat's nature to subdue any weakness so that they don't become prey for predators.

Even though modern cats are now in the comfort of domestic bliss, this lasting trait remains. For this very reason, many cats are sadly left untreated with progressed life-threatening diseases. 

How can you know when your cat is sick? Paying attention to their daily routine and their average level of activity is a good start. That way, you'll notice when anything is out of the ordinary. 

How To Tell If Your Cat Is Sick: 10 Signs To Know

While they may be subtle, cat's do display signs of pain or illness. We share some common hints to look out for so that you can tell if your cat is under the weather. Call your veterinarian if there is anything that you're unsure of.

1. A Change In Grooming Habits

There are two extremes to look out for – excessive grooming or neglectful grooming. A cat that is perpetually licking or itching is usually trying to ease some pain or skin irritations. Anything from fleas to arthritis will trigger a need to groom more than necessary. Bald patches or inflammation on the skin may be a more visible sign that your kitty is grooming too much. 

On the flip side, a cat whose fur is becoming matted, greasy, or experiencing hair loss is also a sign of illness. Your cat's unruly hair may be an indication of poor health, pain, and inability to reach areas of their coat. If your cat's coat lacks its typical shine, there may be a larger problem than its appearance. 

2. Toilet Trouble

Your cat's poop tells a tale. More frequent stools, constipationdiarrhea, or alarmingly large turds can signify gastrointestinal disease. Blood is also a cause for concern and can signal several issues, from inflammatory bowel disease, food sensitivities, polyps, tumors, or cysts. Blood can also result from an irritation in the lining of the lower gastrointestinal tract.

If you notice a change in their urine or urination habits, it is also a cause for alarm. Urinary tract infections or kidney problems can display painful urination, genital licking, blood in urine, increased thirst, frequent urination, blockage in the urinary tract, and strong-smelling pee.

A urinary tract infection left untreated can lead to kidney disease or a life-threatening rapturing of the bladder. See a veterinarian immediately if you suspect your cat of having a UTI or relating issues. 

Since we're on the topic of toilet habits, the inability to properly use the litter box can signal discomfort and possible joint problems. 

3. Appetite Changes

If your cat suddenly has a change in appetite, be it for food or water, it is a big sign of health issues. Increased thirst is a symptom of thyroid disease, diabetes, or kidney disease. Among other things, intestinal parasites can trigger increased appetite. If your cat experiences weight loss while binge eating, then your cat is sick, and they need immediate attention. 

A change in eating habits could also indicate minor problems like a toothache or merely a reaction to nausea caused by medications or recent vaccination. If picky eating continues for a few days, or your cat seems to be on a hunger strike, then it's time to call the vet. Hepatic Lipidosis and liver problems are commonly identified in cats who become recluse and avoid their food bowl. 

4. Mobility Mishap

If your cat is becoming clumsy, limping, sluggish, or incapable of their usual antics, then illnesses or injury may be the cause. A usually playful kitty that suddenly seems to have a low energy level should cause you to prick up your ears and look out for other illness symptoms. 

A slowness in mobility can also indicate discomfort, which could be caused by many things. 

5. Typical Signs Of Illness

When people are sick, they can experience a range of symptoms. Some of these typical signs can occur in cats too. Sneezing, coughing, vomiting, diarrhea, watery or gooey eye discharge, excessive nasal discharge are among these symptoms that occur in your kitty too.

Sometimes, just by looking in your cat's eyes, you can see that they're unwell. Constricted or dilated pupils may also be a sign that your cat is sick. 

6. Bad Breath

Healthy gums and normal breath odor are a sign of good health. Periodontal disease or dental problems can cause stinky breath. Ignored dental issues can lead to more threatening issues such as liver, kidney, or heart disease. The tone of the gums can also be very revealing of their current wellness.

  • Pale discolored gums can be an indication of poor circulation or even anemia. 

  • Bluish gums are usually a sign of an oxygen shortage. 

  • Deep red gums can develop due to carbon monoxide poisoning.

  • Yellow gums are a symptom of jaundice. 

  • Red speckled gums can indicate a blood-clotting problem. 

7. Weight Changes

Cat illness can cause some subtle physical changes in your kitty. Weight loss or weight gain is a concerning symptom. If your cat has stopped eating or drinking and is losing weight, then you should seek advice from your vet immediately.

Cat sizes vary, and there is no perfect weight. Speak to your vet about what the ideal weight should be for your cat. Most domestic cats weigh an average of about ten pounds. 

8. Psychological Indications

A pleasant demeanor that becomes volatile or a kitty that seems more vocal than usual is probably trying to tell you something. Of course, changes are expected as your cat gets older, but behavior changes that develop unexpectedly are a warning sign. If your cat is disorientated or confused, then seek veterinary help as soon as possible. 

9. They're Seeking Solitude

A recluse cat is usually hiding something. Whether curled up in a cupboard or retreating under a bush in the garden, a cat that is continually removing themselves from the family may be masking their pain. Cats do love to nap in random spots around the home, but if they're more distant than usual, then you may want to look out for other signs of sickness.

10. High Fever

The optimum temperature for a cat should be 100 to 103 degrees Fahrenheit. Call your health care provider for advice if your furry friend's temperature is outside the normal range. 

Along with temperature hikes, do not ignore breathing difficulties like shortness of breath, wheezing, or rapid breathing. Breathing problems can indicate many issues, from allergies to heart failure. Emergency care is required. 

Common Causes Of Cat Illness

Cats experience many ailments. Severe and even fatal illnesses that are common for cats, along with their symptoms, include:

  • Kidney Disease – dry coat, weight loss, smelly breath, excessive drooling, increased need to urinate, and extreme thirst.

  • Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)  diarrhea, fever, lethargy, weight loss, seizures, behavior changes, and recurrent infections.

  • Diabetes – increased urination, increased appetite with weight loss, muscle atrophy, and poor coat quality.

  • Rabies – fever, weight loss, aggression, muscle spasms, seizures, dropped jaw, and hypersalivation.

  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)– fever, weight loss, mild upper respiratory symptoms, and diarrhea.

  • Lung Disease, such as Pyothorax, Chylothorax, or Lymphoma – breathing difficulty, and bloody mucous from the nose.

  • Heartworm – vomiting, weight loss, seizures, and coughing.

Comfort your sick cat by managing their pain and making sure they eat and drink. Help them to the litter box if they need it and keep them calm with some natural remedies. Massage any painful joints and keep them comfortable until they recover. If they're recovering from an injury, try to limit their mobility by bringing the essential items closer to them. 

Sick Cat: When To See A Vet

No one knows your cat as well as you do. When you are aware of common signs of illness in cats, you will notice the clues and act. The signs your cat reveals to you are puzzle pieces that need to be put together and deciphered.

Before you take your cat to the veterinarian, think long and hard about all these signs of illness so that you can give the vet an exact list of symptoms. Your vet can perform further testing to pinpoint the cause of the cat's distress.

Extreme symptoms such as seizures, collapse, bleeding, severe pain, trauma, difficulty breathing, high fever, and poisoning require a trip to the emergency room. 

Early Detection Can Make A Difference

Early detection and treatment of disease in your cat can prevent subsequent illnesses. If you can tell if your cat is sick, the problem could have already progressed, so take them to the vet as soon as possible. Remember, they've been suppressing their symptoms for a while now. 

Is It The End?

The realization that your cat is dying can be catastrophic. With life-threatening or chronic illnesses, discuss palliative care options and pain treatment with your veterinarian. But there will come a time when you will have to say goodbye. Signs that your kitty is in its final days include:

  • A refusal to eat or drink

  • Lowered heart rate

  • Difficulty breathing or low respiratory rate

  • Incontinence

  • Foul body odor and bad breath

  • Low temperature

  • Seeking solitude

Do what you can to make your cat comfortable until their final moment. Monitor your cat's pain level and decide whether euthanasia would be appropriate. Many pet parents turn to CBD products to help their four-legged friends with discomfort in those final days and to help promote relaxation. 

How To Keep Your Cat Healthy 

Treatment options will vary depending on your cat's ailment. With a healthy lifestyle and a managed diet, your cat can be healthy and live a long life. Here are some good practices to keep your kitty healthy and happy:

  • Parasite prevention

  • Regular wellness checkups

  • High protein, low carbohydrate diet

  • Easy access to clean water

  • Exercise and mental stimulation

  • Trim their nails and brush their coat

  • Spay or neuter your cat

  • Provide a clean litter box

  • Give them a collar or microchip

  • Stay up-to-date on vaccinations

  • Add supplements or probiotics to their diet for an extra health boost.

CBD for Cats is a particularly great way to support your cat’s immune system. In addition to supporting normal cardiovascular, immune, and neurological function, CBD can also support bone and joint health, fight free radicals, provide antioxidant support, and help maintain healthy skin.  

Sick Cats, Get Them Feeling Well Again

You are the most important person in your cat's life. Not just for the cuddles, but to be the one who will observe their behavior and recognize signs of illness. Your cat may hide away or show subtle signs of pain. Who will notice if not you? Give your cat the attention and the health care they deserve so that they can be well again. 

When you are confident of your cat's health status, you can enjoy more snuggle sessions again. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you know a cat is dying? 

Signs that your kitty is in its final days include a refusal to eat or drink, lowered heart rate, difficulty breathing or low respiratory rate, incontinence, foul body odor, bad breath, low temperature, and a tendency to seek solitude. Do what you can to make your cat comfortable until their final moment.

Is my cat stressed or sick? 

While it may be hard to identify sickness in your cat, some common signs of illness include a change in grooming habits, physical changes to their eyes, gums, or coat, sudden weight changes, changes in their feces or urine, and more. 

How do you comfort a sick cat? 

Comfort your sick cat by managing their pain and making sure they eat and drink. Help them to the litter box if they need it and keep them calm with some natural remedies. Massage any painful joints and keep them comfortable.