Recognising the Signs of illness in a Sick Cat: Common Symptoms

21 Aug, 2020

Recognising the Signs of illness in a Sick Cat: Common Symptoms

Spread the love

As every pet owner knows it can be hard to tell when your pet gets sick.  And as a cat sitter it can be even harder to detect if you are caring for a sick cat. However, there are clues, clear signs you can look out for to detect some classic ailments.  In this blog we focus on cats, and looking our for classic symptoms of feline ailments. If you think you have a sick cat, read on…

Keeping cats is a big responsibility

How to Tell if you have a sick cat?

Domestic cats are as susceptible to ailments as humans. Our favourite creatures have colds, infections, cancer, and diabetes. That is why you need to monitor the behaviour and physical condition of the pet. Here you will find out how to tell your cat is sick. If you are thinking about how to treat a sick cat without going to the vet read on, but do consider the warning all the signs of feline ill health.

How to tell if a Cat is sick by behaviour and appearance

Careful observation can help determine if your kitten is ailing

@jcomp / Freepik

An attentive owner will pay attention to the changed behaviour of the pet. If the cat is hiding or continually trying to climb onto its knees, it is a reason to take a closer look at the animal. In pain and always affectionate, the cat can suddenly turn into a vicious fury and become aggressive. Look out for warning signs your cat is crying for help.

How to determine that a cat is sick, focusing on his behaviour and appearance? The symptoms of trouble are as follows:

  • refusal to eat and drink;
  • absence or change of faeces (the presence of mucus, bloody discharge in the tray contents is especially dangerous);
  • groundless meowing, nervousness, anxiety, or, on the contrary, drowsiness, unwillingness to move;
  • change in the state of the coat: strong shedding, loss of healthy shine (the fur becomes dull, matted, sticks out in tufts);
  • changes in behaviour: the cat stops caring for itself, sharpening its claws, playing, showing curiosity;
  • increased attention to a specific part of the body (the cat bites, scratches, licks, a sore, or a disturbing place).
Look for unusual behaviour in your cat

@sanborr / Freepik

Symptoms can indicate a variety of conditions that only a doctor can diagnose. For example, cats are prone to urolithiasis, so the lack of urination and blood in the urine is a reason to contact your veterinarian immediately. On the contrary, an animal may come too often to the tray and even try to do it in the rooms.

Increased thirst can be a symptom of thyroid disease, diabetes, kidney problems, infection. You can guess dehydration as follows: if you pull off the hair on the shoulder blades and release it, then when dehydrated, the skin returns to its previous position very slowly.

Sick Cat? Some physiological signs
sick cat
If you can check the cat’s temperature, it will help find out if you have a sick cat

@alenadzemidziuk / Freepik

A sick animal doesn’t just look unhealthy. Its physiology is changing. How to tell if a cat is sick? First of all, pay attention to such physiological factors as body temperature, heart rate, and respiration. Symptoms of the disease:

  • an increase in body temperature up to 39.3 degrees (for small kittens – up to 39.7 degrees, for Sphynx cats – up to 41.6 degrees);
  • The pulse rate is higher than 150 beats per minute. (for kittens and small cats – above 200 strokes per minute);
  • shallow rapid breathing (more than 35 times in 1 min.).

A sick animal may show neurological symptoms (loss of consciousness, staggering gait, lameness, disorientation). Vomiting, diarrhoea, discharge from the eyes, mouth, ears testify to the disease. Weight loss is one of the symptoms of cancer or heart disease, and in the early stages, the animal looks generally healthy.

Domestic cats can get sick even with proper care and healthy eating. For any symptoms of trouble, the animal must be shown to the veterinarian.

Unusual Symptoms to determine a sick cat

The purpose of this article is not to scare you with the number of possible diseases your cat may have. But it’s always better to be prepared, right?
The owner may not always be able to recognize the symptoms and provide timely help. Especially if you’ve just become a pet parent and don’t have much experience.
In such a case, it is better to have a cat saving fund.

Subscribing to an alternative pet insurance will guarantee your peace of mind for your pet’s health in case of emergency. You will be able to provide timely assistance to your cat and save money thanks to the fund’s coverage of expenses.

Almost any medical condition can present with unusual symptoms, often mistaken for behavioural disturbances or “bad temper.” Such symptoms of a sick cat can include:

  • unwillingness to use the litter box or regular urination in the wrong place
  • excessive night activity
  • sudden unmotivated aggression
  • reluctance to play with the owner, avoidance of physical contact
  • the desire to hide and spend time in secluded places.

Such symptoms can manifest as urinary tract infections, hormonal diseases, diabetes mellitus, arthritis, and chronic renal failure.

Look out for changing behaviour patterns to diagnose a sick cat

@yana.aybazova / Freepik


It is also important to remember that cats, when they are sick, almost always try to hide their poor health and hardly express pain by meowing or screaming; most likely, the cat will try to reduce its activity in such a situation and not move at all. Therefore, if the cat’s behaviour suddenly changed, she stopped playing.

All the time sits in the corner of the sofa, does not come out to meet you after work, does not play with toys, then it is worth observing her, and if the condition does not improve, this means that the cat is sick and you need to contact the cat for an appointment at the clinic.

Home Diagnostics

Weight loss and associated cat disease may be subtle due to the abundant coat, especially if she is not particularly fond of sitting on her hands or is entirely independent in contact with the owner. How to understand if a cat is sick in this case? It recommends that you regularly conduct a simple home examination of domestic cats, literally from the tip of the nose to the tail’s tip.

In this case, it is worth evaluating the cleanliness and clarity of the eyes and nostrils, the coat’s condition, and claws.

Look into the ears and mouth, see the gums and mucous membranes’ condition, whether plaque or calculus on the teeth. Touch the cat’s entire body, including the ribs and spine, examine all the mammary glands, bend the joints’ paws, and press on the pads. Don’t forget to check the organs under the tail, gently run your fingers along the entire spine and tail.

It is also worth assessing the cat’s activity, food, and water intake, and inspecting the litter box for the volume, quality, and quantity of urine and feces. Even the smallest details are important here.

And one more simple advice, if you have even the slightest doubt that the cat is healthy, it is better to go to the doctor and start treating the cat.

Signs of a Healthy Cat

Good Appetite

If the cat wants to eat, he certainly feels good! This statement is equally true for both humans and animals. But if you notice that the kitten is overeating, this may indicate the presence of helminths, which means it is time to carry out a regular visit to the vet. The amount of food eaten should be appropriate for the cat’s age.

Feeding your cat you can use an automatic feeder, electronic devices that distribute pre-programmed portions of kibble at a set time. Following advice which ThePets recommends in this way, you can be sure that your kitty can self-regulate and not overeat.

If the kitten has lost appetite, this is an alarming sign. A poor taste, its absence, a small amount of food eaten during the day suggests that the kitten may be sick if, of course, you did not change its diet, and this is not a reaction to it.

Check for clear eyes / Freepik


Appearance and traits of a sick cat

The appearance of a kitten directly depends on its internal state. The cat should be well-fed, without excessive fatness or thinness. Eyes with regular care should be bright and clear. The ears should also be clean, be sure to check them for discharge. If you notice dark lumps in your ears, they may indicate an ear mite or other infection. The tongue and gums of a healthy cat will be pink – exactly pink, not pale.

The fur should be clean and shiny. If the kitten is long-haired, pay special attention to brushing its fur to avoid tangles. However, tangles can manifest itself not only as a lack of care but also as a symptom of the disease.

After examining the coat, check the condition of the skin. It should be clean, free from irritation. These signs may indicate food allergies or parasites. Periodically look under the tail of the kitten – there should also be no irritation or bald spots. Feel the stomach – it should be soft and elastic.

Excellent behaviour

A healthy kitten eats with appetite, runs a lot, plays, and sleeps well. If the cat sleeps too much and is not involved in a game, it could be a sign of illness. If, among other things, the kitten gets tired of playing too quickly, consider visiting a specialist. Remember that your little pet is a hyperactive creature, and any decrease in activity can be a symptom of a dangerous illness.

A final word on watching out for a sick cat

Observing the kitten’s behaviour will help you determine if the pet is healthy. Record warning signs, and don’t ignore them. After taking a cat from its mother, you, as its owner, are the closest creature for it. And it is in your power to maintain its health, good mood and so earn love for many years.



Housesit Match on Cat-sitting

Tips for cat sitting – Top 10 

Why keep pets at home with petsitters

What is House Sitting?




Spread the love


Founder and Director of HouseSitMatch - I'm a hands-on Admin on the site. Please ask any questions and as soon as I can I'll happily answer and assist where I can.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.