Cats are amazing at hiding illness. Before you notice anything is wrong, it’s likely they’ve been feeling off colour for quite a while, and if your cat isn’t the cuddly friendly type, you might have missed any early warning signs. It’s really easy to do with cats, especially those who are outdoor aloof types, who only come for comfort on their terms.
Signs to look out for include:
- Pupil changes, either constricted or dilated, ie bigger or smaller than usual.
- The grumps happening more often or beginning. Sudden mood changes should always have us on alert to keep a more close eye on our pets.
- Being more noisy than usual.
- Being lethargic, or not wanting to play/interact as much as usual.
- Changes to appetite and eating/drinking habits. My cat was diagnosed with an overactive thyroid, when I noticed he was drinking and eating loads and loads, yet getting thinner.
- Weight changes, loss or gain.
- Breathing changes, faster or struggling, panting.
- Coughing up more hair balls than usual, or over cleaning/grooming.
- Dull coat, possibly becoming more wiry.
- Difficulty grooming, turning head etc.
- Wounds, lumps or swelling.
- Smelly breath – smelling like pear drops could indicate diabetes.
- Eye/Nose boogers and discharge.
- Hair loss.
- Irritated or itchy skin.
- Hiding away as they don’t know what to do with themselves.
- Biting or scratching themselves or you, more than usual.
With cats it is hard, but to know your cat is unwell, it usually requires us to know what our cats are like when they are well. When you spend time with your cat, look at the eyes, the coat, speak to them, look at the way they walk, the behaviour, and make a mental note if you see any changes. If you think something isn’t right, even if it isn’t on the list above, don’t leave it, get your cat to the vet for a checkup.
- Urinary Tract Infections (UTI’s)/kidney problems, bladder issues. You might notice some litter tray changes.
- Respiratory / Heart issues, might be spotted by watching for breathing issues and lethargy.
- Eating and drinking more than usual could point to thyroid issues and diabetes among other things.
- Bad breath, can include toothache, gum disease, digestive, heart or kidney problems.
- Injuries or wounds from fighting or infections can cause limping, excessive licking, being unwilling to move as much as usual.
In this case, and if you are unsure, it may mean that a condition is in the early stages and still warrants a vet visit. Conditions that are caught early, can often be successfully treated, to ensure the cat feels better. The longer you wait, the more distress or pain your cat may suffer.