How Can I Tell if my Cat is Sick?

Cats are many things. Some are energetic, playful and loving. Others are lazy, grumpy and aloof. One thing that most cats are not, however, is complainers. What that means is that they don’t necessarily whine over every little ache and pain. While some would think this to be a positive trait, it makes it difficult to know when your cat is feeling under the weather. Many pet owners ask, “If she doesn’t complain then how can I tell if my cat is sick?”

This is an important question to have answered because by the time a cat is showing obvious symptoms, such as not eating or vomiting, it is possible that she has been sick for quite some time.

The best thing that you can do is to get to know your cat. Learn her eating and sleeping habits and pay attention to how she behaves. Also, make note of the density, color and sheen of her coat. If you pay attention to how your cat looks and acts when she is healthy, it will be much easier for you to notice when something is not quite right.

There are many signs that you can look for to determine the health of your cat. Below are some indications that something may be wrong.

Hair Loss
June Rauch was brushing her cat one night when she noticed a large bald spot on one of the rear legs. All around the bald spot was what appeared to be black dirt. Where ever this black dirt type substance was visible, the hair could be removed very easily. As hair was removed, more of the black stuff showed up. When she called her vet, she was told it could be an infection from fleas, a virus or a sign of something more serious, such as pancreatic cancer. June was pretty sure it wasn’t fleas as there were no signs of flea activity.

When she took her cat to the vet they ran tests for the more serious possibilities, and gave the cat a long lasting shot of antibiotics while waiting for results. If the hair loss was the result of a virus, the vet said that shot would clear it up within a few days.

Happily, the antibiotics took care of the problem, but June might not have even noticed the hair loss had she not taken time to brush her cat that night.

Hair loss is not normal, and it does not happen without a reason. As June learned, the cause of hair loss could be very serious, so take the time to look over your cat’s coat on a regular basis.

While it may not be easy to get a good look inside your cat’s mouth, doing so can provide clues about a variety of possible health problems.

When Ken Smith’s cat stopped eating, he thought she was grieving the loss of her sister who had died suddenly. He thought she’d start eating again soon. Then, he caught a glimpse of her gums when she was yawning. He noticed they were very yellow, so he rushed to her the vet the next day. It was a good thing he did. She had liver disease that was on the border of becoming liver failure. He chose to go ahead with a very expensive surgery that saved the cats life, but if he hadn’t noticed her yellow gums, and got her to the vet when he did, she probably would not have made it.

While yellow gums are a sign of jaundice which can indicate a liver problem, the gums can also provide a hint of other health issues.

A bluish tint could indicate that your cat is not getting enough oxygen. A very white, as opposed to a more normal pink, tint can be an indication of anemia.

It is important to note that some cats develop freckles and other discoloration on their gums as they age. Still, anything that is out of the ordinary should be checked out by a vet as soon as possible.

The only way that you can know if something is out of the ordinary is to learn what your cat’s gums look like normally.

Just as the color of the gums can indicate a variety of diseases, so can the cat’s eyes. Again, you must take a good look at your cat so that you know what is normal for her. That is the best way to be able to notice when something is not quite right. The whites of a cat’s eyes should be, obviously, white. Look for any discoloration including bloodshot or patches of color. Both could be signs that something is wrong.

There are other eye abnormalities to look for as well such as pink swollen areas around the eyes, changes in the color of the eyes, a cloudy film over the pupils or pupils that look different from each other. All of those could be indications of a serious health problem.

Other Signs
Other visible signs that could indicate trouble include a change in the sheen or density of the coat, discoloration around the ears and sneezing or coughing. Also, if your cat is lethargic, refuses to eat or drink or if you notice a change in litter box habits, those could also be indicators of a health problem.

There are many ways to answer the question “how can I tell if my cat is sick.” The importance of knowing what is normal for your cat cannot be stressed enough. All cats are different, but knowing YOUR cat will help you notice right away when something is wrong.

When you do notice a problem, do not wait for it to go away on its own. Instead, contact your vet who can advise you whether or not the symptoms are serious enough to require an office visit.

By paying attention to your cat and taking a few minutes once a month to give her a good once over, you’ll be able to catch any health problems early. This will give her the best chance to make a full recovery.



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