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How To Know When Your Cat Is Sick PDF Print E-mail

cat_sickCats are very stoical by nature. This comes from generations of life in the wild. Small felines—both predators and prey— instinctively hide signs of weakness lest they become someone’s lunch. This impulse is highly useful in the wilderness, but not so relevant to the modern cat’s lifestyle. A cat may keep her sickness a secret until her body can no longer cope. Suddenly, you have a very unhappy kitty on your hands.

Luckily, cats do give hints. The better you know your cat—her habits, appearance, and behavior—the more apparent they will be. Noticing sick signs and intervening right away could mean the difference between life and death.

The following are common sick signs in cats. This list is not exhaustive, nor is it a substitute for professional veterinary advice. Please note that these symptoms are more worrisome in a very young, very old, or otherwise frail cat, since they have fewer defenses when illness strikes. If your cat is doing something that worries you, always consult your vet.

Behavior change

If your cat’s temperament changes unexpectedly, she is probably telling you something. A friendly cat may turn reclusive; a playful cat becomes apathetic; an elderly cat stops jumping into your lap or sleeping on your bed at night. By contrast, a laid back cat may be hyperactive, needy or meowy when they’re sick. Since cats are such great pretenders, a behavior change may be your only clue.

Change in appetite

Changes in appetite are a classic sign of feline illness, although some don’t simply stop eating. They may just become picky, or switch from preferring dry food to craving only canned. Others may come running at the sound of the meal being prepared only to take one sniff and walk away. Note that a sharp increase in appetite could indicate trouble as well (i.e., hyperthyroidism or diabetes).

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Disclaimer: This website is not intended to replace professional consultation, diagnosis, or treatment by a licensed veterinarian. If you require any veterinary related advice, contact your veterinarian promptly. Information at is exclusively of a general reference nature. Do not disregard veterinary advice or delay treatment as a result of accessing information at this site.

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