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How do I know if my cat is sick?

How do I know if my cat is sick?

When cats are sick, their symptoms can be hard to detect because of subtle changes in their behavior or energy. Our Atlantic Coast New York Veterinary Specialists vets share signs of serious illness that cat owners shouldn't ignore. 

Common illnesses in cats

Much like their humans, cats can suddenly seem to be feeling under the weather. Cat illnesses range from upper respiratory infections (cat colds) to diabetes, feline immunodeficiency virus, feline leukemia virus, parasites, hyperthyroidism, urinary disorders, age-related disease and even cancer.

Naturally, the symptoms your cat shows will depend upon the kind of illness they are suffering from. However, there are a number of symptoms that are common to many health issues in cats. Below our vets share a few signs that can mean your cat is unwell and needs to see the vet, as well as more serious symptoms that indicate your cat is in need of urgent veterinary care.

Common signs of illness in cats

Our feline friends are particularly good at hiding pain and illness, so it's important to monitor your cat's behavior to watch for anything that seems unusual for them. Your cat's symptoms may only be a passing bout of indigestion or a cold, but it's also possible that your cat has a serious condition that needs medical attention.

Below are some of the most common signs of a sick cat. If your kitty is showing any of the symptoms below contact your vet to book an appointment. Cats can seem stoic, which means that what looks like a minor issue could be the sign of something more serious.

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or constipation - especially if there appears to be pain
  • Lethargy
  • Increase or decrease in appetite
  • Weight changes - sudden decrease or increase in weight
  • Increased or decrease in drinking habits
  • Breathing issues, or changes in breathing
  • Runny eyes or nose, with clear, green or white discharge
  • Excessive shedding, bald patches or skin irritation
  • Changes in bathroom habits
  • Blood in the urine
  • Changes in personality (e.g. your cat is usually outgoing or playful but has stopped)

When is it an emergency?

When it comes to your cat's health, there are some symptoms that indicate a serious issue requiring urgent care. If you notice any of the following, contact your primary care vet immediately or take your cat to the nearest after-hours emergency vet right away.

If you're not sure if your cat is experiencing an emergency, call your veterinarian for advice and to find out whether to bring your pet to the clinic.

  • Indications of severe pain - typically accompanied by loud vocalizations or aggression
  • Seizure
  • Trauma or injury
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Signs of pain while using the litterbox
  • Discolored gums (blue, grey, white, or unusually pale)
  • Moderate to severe bleeding
  • Exposure to poisonous or toxic 
  • Blood in vomit
  • Unresponsive or unconscious 
  • Dizziness or inability to walk
  • Temperature running low or high - under 98.6ºF (37°C) or over 104°F (40°C)

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

If your feline friend is showing signs of sickness, contact our Atlantic Coast New York Veterinary Specialists vet team right away. Our Long Island veterinarians are experienced in providing exemplary care for cats.

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