12 Signs of Ill-Health in Cats

You love your cat, and you want to make sure they live a long and healthy life. You want them around for as long as possible, and you want to make sure they’re happy, as well. To ensure this happens, you need to know what a healthy cat looks like, but more importantly, you need to know the worrying warning signs of ill-health in cats. 

We’ve given you some symptoms to look out for. If you have a gut feeling that all is not well with your pet, be sure to err on the side of caution and book them into the vet as soon as possible. As with people, the sooner you catch certain conditions, the easier they are to treat. And the sooner you treat them, the sooner you’ll see the return of your happy, healthy, energetic cat.

While you’re here, check out our care tips for healthy indoor cats.

1. Subtle Changes in the Way They Carry Themselves

You know the way your cat moves, behaves and interacts with the world. If your typically graceful cat is suddenly clumsy, if they are hunching over or if they aren’t lifting their head properly, this is something you should address. Any changes to the norm should be seen as signs of potential ill-health. Keep an eye on subtle changes.

2. Weight Loss or Weight Gain

Slight fluctuations in weight are nothing to worry about, but noticeable weight loss or weight gain is something that could be a sign of ill-health in cats. If you have a long hair cat, you might not even notice their weight fluctuations immediately. To keep an eye on their weight, run a hand across their spine and ribs. There is a simple hack to tell whether your cat is underweight, a healthy weight or overweight.

To compare, run your fingers over the back of your hand, then over your knuckles and then over the backs of your fingers. You want your cat’s ribs to feel like the backs of your fingers — you can feel each rib, but there is an amount of padding there. If your cat’s ribs feel like the back of your hand and you can’t feel the ribs very well, they’re likely overweight, and if their ribs feel like your knuckles, they’re probably underweight.

Chronic illnesses and metabolic diseases can result in subtle weight loss. Weight gain is also something that has to be monitored. Excessive weight can shorten a cat’s life and result in health conditions including diabetes, heart disease and breathing difficulties.

If you have an indoor cat, there are ways to encourage exercise and keep them healthy. Check out our luxury cat climbers.

3. A Shift in Behaviour

Sometimes, sick cats might become withdrawn. They might hide away and hold back their affection. Alternatively, they might become more affectionate and clingy, or they might just be cranky or lethargic. You know your cat and you know what’s normal for them. If they aren’t themselves, this could be a sign of ill-health.

4. They Stop Leaping and Jumping

Cats love to run around, pounce and attack random objects. It’s in their nature. But when cats develop arthritis or other joint problems, you’ll notice they become less active. They might have difficulty moving around — maybe they don’t jump up to their favourite snoozing spot or they are walking gingerly on their back legs. If you notice these changes, make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible. 

Something else that could cause lethargy and reductions in activity levels in cats is depression. As with humans, cats can exhibit signs of depression. This might be because they’re not getting the stimulation and exercise they need. To help your kitty feel better, consider investing in a luxury cat scratcher or furniture to keep them occupied.

5. Your Cat’s Coat May Become Matted or Clumpy

If your cat is under the weather, they won’t feel inclined to groom themselves very well or they may not be physically able to. If you see your gorgeous cat’s coat becoming greasy, matted or clumpy, you may want to consider this as a sign of ill-health.

6. They May Over-Groom

As confusing as it may seem, over-grooming is also one of the signs of ill-health in cats. Keep an eye out for excessive grooming as this could be a sign that your cat has skin allergies or a problem with fleas or mites. If they have joint problems, they might start grooming as a way of self-soothing, but this can lead to bald spots and raw patches of skin. 

While you’re here, why not learn more about cat behaviour? Check out this blog post on why cats knead.

7. Changes in Appetite

Watch out for changes in appetite. Is your cat noticeably eating less or much more? Are they drinking more or barely touching their water? 

Cats with dental issues can go off their food, while other diseases — such as metabolic diseases — can cause cats to overeat and drink excessively.

If you notice your cat hasn’t been eating for more than a day, it’s important you make an appointment with your vet. If your cat stops eating — even only for a few days — they can develop issues such as hepatic lipidosis.

Did you know some cats purr as a way to self-soothe and heal? Explore other reasons why cats purr.

8. Difficulty Breathing

Difficulty breathing is a sure warning sign that there is something wrong with your cat. Look out for shallow breathing or panting as there may be an issue with your cat’s lungs or airways. 

9. Changes in Their Litter

Your cat’s litter box can tell you a lot about their overall health! There are a number of things to look out for.

Is your cat urinating more than normal? If so, this could indicate an inability to properly conserve water, which might be a sign of kidney or liver problems. It might also point to diabetes. Conversely, if you notice a reduction in urination (particularly if your cat keeps visiting the litter box, only to strain and leave, having done nothing), this could indicate a bladder problem or an issue with their kidneys. If your cat has a urinary tract infection, you’ll also notice them excessively licking their genitals. Please make an appointment as soon as possible — lack of urination is a serious issue for cats.

Other issues you need to look out for are diarrhea (which may indicate intestinal parasites or other problems) and constipation (which can be caused by dehydration).

10. You’ve Noticed a Lot of Vomiting

Don’t turn a blind eye to vomiting. It’s not normal for cats to vomit regularly. If it’s only a furball, or if your cat vomits once in a while, you shouldn’t be overly concerned, but if you notice vomiting every day, or every other day, this is a sign that something is not right.

11. Increased Vocalisation

If your cat is yowling or increasingly vocal, it might be a sign that they are stressed or in pain. They may be sick, so it’s important you take your cat to get checked out by a professional. You don’t want them to be in distress for long periods of time.

12. Bad Breath

We love our cats, but let’s be honest, their breath is never minty fresh. However, if you notice their breath smells worse than normal, it could be a sign of dental issues. You’ll want to get these checked out as soon as possible because if you leave dental problems to persist, your cat’s teeth and gums might deteriorate and they’ll find eating painful. This will lead to weight loss and a decline in health. You should also watch out for excessive drooling or bleeding from their gums. These are signs of oral infections, which could lead to issues in other organs, such as the heart.

It can be heartbreaking to see your beloved pet become ill or uncomfortable, but it’s important to take action as soon as possible. The sooner you step in and help your furry friend, the sooner they’ll be back to their old selves, attacking their scratchers and scaling their furniture.

You want the best for your cat, which is why we have designed the best, most stylish cat furniture available today. Check out our range and put some pep in your cat’s step.

Our Core Values

Why Catipilla? Every product and idea we have is built around these core values.

Cat health and well-being.
Cats deserve the best. They deserve to be active, to be entertained, to stretch, to climb and to rest. To play out all of their natural instincts where they feel safest – at home. Our range has been designed to cater for these instincts and provide the most enjoyment possible.

High-quality, space-saving additions to your home.
Every unit we design is built to last. We want you to have the confidence that our products will stand the test of time. We also want to ensure that cats feel secure on our units and have the freedom to roam wherever they please.

Sustainable products that last a lifetime.
All of our Catipilla products are made from 85% recycled material and we actively work to reduce our energy footprint by sourcing materials close to home.

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