How To Tell If Your Cat Is Sick

It can be difficult to ascertain if slight changes in your Cat’s look or actions point to a medical problem. Cats are notoriously good at hiding illnesses, a trait that probably comes from their wild ancestors to avoid being targeted by predators. 

The possible causes can run the gamut of upper respiratory infections which can cause difficulty breathing or breathing problems, weight loss or weight gain, hair loss, or something more serious like lung disease, heart disease, or even cancer. 

However, illness in cats is best treated when they’re caught early. This means you are your feline friend’s most important health care provider or his cat symptom checker. 

Don’t disregard what your cat is trying to tell you–or trying not to tell you. Here are just a few of cat illness symptoms and signs on how to tell if your cat is sick.

Symptoms That Could Mean Your Cat is Sick

Like many animals, cats are strikingly good at hiding their discomfort when they are ill. In fact, signs of illness may not be obvious until your cat is feeling under the weather. If you notice any of these cat illnesses symptoms, be sure to reach out to your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Unusual Behavior

Has your usually outgoing and friendly cat suddenly become anxious and a shy mess? Or your typically happy and energetic furball turned into a touchy and tired grouch? If you notice a change in your pet’s behavior, these can be signs your cat is sick.

Oftentimes, the most common sign of illness in some cats is hiding in a quiet, tucked away place. Sick cats tend to lie silently in a hunched position, sleeping more than usual, or just generally has a low energy level.

Another behavior change you should take notice of is problems using the litter box. Cats who urinate more frequently stopped using the litter box, or seem to be in pain while going may be suffering from urinary tract infection or other common cat illness.

Irregular Eating/Drinking Habits

Cats who don’t feel well usually experience food sensitivities or don’t want to eat. However, some sickness can cause a sudden increased appetite.

This could be an indication of hyperthyroidism, inflammatory bowel disease, or even intestinal cancer. An increased appetite could also result in weight changes so don’t ignore your unexpectedly ravenous cat.

On the contrary, increased thirst and urination can mean many things in cats. It could be signs that your cat may be suffering from kidney disease, diabetes, thyroid problems, or other illnesses.

The unexpected appearance of litter box issues like producing small amounts or signs of pain may indicate urinary tract blockage or infection. Inability to urinate is a critical emergency that is all too common in cats, particularly males.

Signs That Your Feline Pal Is Sick

Vomiting or Irregular Bowel Movement

Some people think it’s normal for a cat to vomit every few days, but it’s actually not. If your cat regurgitates his food soon after eating, this should be a concern.

Vomiting food after it’s been in the stomach may indicate a blockage, poisoning, or a host of other problems. If your cat vomits repeatedly for more than a day, or just for more than a few hours, he probably needs to see a veterinarian immediately.

When in doubt, it’s best to call the animal hospital for advice rather than waiting to see what will happen.

Skin Irritation

The condition of your furry friend’s coat can be revealing. If your cat is over-grooming, under-grooming, or neglect grooming, or has an increase in shedding, there may be a health issue underfoot.

Skin irritation could be a sign of allergies, a symptom of hyperthyroidism, external parasites, or another skin condition. It’s also likely itchy or painful. Don’t let your pet suffer needlessly. Your vet may be able to find out what’s going on and what you can do about it.


To take your cat’s temperature, lubricate a rectal thermometer (personal lubricant or petroleum jelly) and insert it 1 to 1.5 inches into your pet’s rectum.

Although this depends on the thermometer, let it stay there from 10 seconds to a minute. If your cat’s body temperature is over 104 or under 99 degrees.

Head to the closest emergency animal hospital for care. The normal temperature for a cat is usually 100.5-102.5, averaging 101 degrees.

What You Can do for Your Sick Cat

Bad Breath

Bad breath is a strong sign that your cat may be experiencing tooth pain or suffering from periodontal disease. Mild halitosis may not be serious, but it means your pet’s teeth should be checked soon [1]. His mouth and gums should appear in a tip-top shape with no inflammation or discoloration.

Also, watch for excessive drooling and bleeding in your cat’s mouth. Moreover, when gingivitis or tooth decay is left untreated, it can lead to more serious issues such as liver, heart, and kidney disease.

That’s why it’s necessary to keep your cat’s teeth and mouth healthy by regular brushing and scheduling a dental cleaning annually.

How to Prevent Your Cat from Getting Sick?

As a cat owner, it’s essential to know the importance of annual veterinary care for cats. Especially for senior cats, your pet can benefit from routine lab work and biannual check-ups.

Regular veterinary visits give vets the opportunity to examine a pet when they appear healthy. Your vet may detect minor abnormalities or parasites before your cat gets really sick. This early detection might mean you and your vet can take action before the disease becomes more serious.

Another thing that you can do to prevent your cat from getting sick is by feeding him a healthy diet. This can help your cat avoid obesity and other health issues.

Many vets recommend wet diets that are low in carbohydrates and high in protein. And most importantly, make sure to provide your cat a happy, low-stress home by giving them fresh water at all times and plenty of clean, accessible little boxes in your home.

Symptoms of Cat Sickness to Look Out For

Frequently Asked Questions

What Can You Do For A Sick Cat?

If your feline friend is acting differently or has injuries it means you need to see the vet for urgent medical attention, diagnosis, and treatment. Early detection and treatment of diseases can help prevent conditions from becoming potentially life-threatening or more severe health issues.

Will Cats Play If They Are Sick?

No, cats will not play if they are sick. A lack of interest in playing and refusal can be an indication of a sick cat. However, this is not always the case.

Many sick cats still continue to play and eat normally when they’re not feeling well. Knowing your fur baby well greatly contributes to understanding changes in habit that may indicate illnesses and require a visit to the veterinarian.

What Makes A Cat Sick?

Common causes of cats being sick include dangerous human foods such as chocolate and onion, swallowing foreign materials such as pieces of string, ribbons, and rubber bands, as well as poisonous substances such as antifreeze, human and plant medications.


Sick cat symptoms like foul breath or breathing difficulties should not be brushed off. No one knows your Kitty as well as you do. Pay attention to any changes to your cat’s usual demeanor or body language. When in doubt, seek a veterinarian immediately. A false alarm is better than disregarding the symptoms of your sick cat.

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