7 Symptoms to Watch Out For in Your Cat
It happens all too often--by the time an owner realizes their cat is sick, the cat is very sick. Cats tend to hide their illnesses, and even hide themselves when they're ill. But problems are best treated when they're caught early, which means YOU are your cat's most important health care provider. You're the one who sees him every day and decides when he needs to see the veterinarian. Don't ignore what he's trying to tell you---or trying not to tell you. Look for the following clues:
Is he acting differently? The most common sign of illness in a cat is hiding in a quiet out-of-the-way place. Sick cats often lie quietly in a hunched position. They neglect grooming. They may be purring, which cats not only do when they're happy, but when they're sick or in pain. A cat with breathing difficulties may refuse to lie down on his side, and will keep his head raised. Cats with neurological problems may be confused, have seizures, or press their head into furniture or walls. This is not the head butting that cats do on your leg affectionately, but prolonged pressing on a surface.
Is he eating, drinking, urinating or defecating more or less than normal? Cats that don't feel well usually don't want to eat. Some illnesses, however, can cause increased appetite, so don't ignore your suddenly ravenous cat. Increased thirst and urination may indicate kidney disease or diabetes. Frequent, sudden attempts to urinate, especially if only small amounts are produced or if accompanied by signs of pain, may indicate a urinary tract infection or blockage. Inability to urinate is a life threatening emergency that is all too common in cats, especially males.
Is he regurgitating or vomiting? If your cat regurgitates food soon after eating he may have a problem. Vomiting food after it’s been in the stomach can indicate poisoning, blockage, or a host of problems. Occasional vomiting of bile or grass is usually no cause for worry, but consult your veterinarian immediately if your cat vomits feces-like matter (which could indicate an intestinal blockage) or blood (which may resemble coffee grounds), has accompanying fever or pain, or if the vomiting lasts more than a few hours.
Does he have diarrhea or constipation? Diarrhea can result from nervousness, a change in diet or water, food sensitivities, intestinal parasites, infections, poisoning, or many other illnesses. Watery diarrhea, diarrhea with lots of blood, or diarrhea accompanied by vomiting, fever, or other symptoms of illness warrants a call to the veterinarian. Cats commonly become constipated. They may strain to defecate, pass only small hard feces, or pass small amounts of watery feces. Examine your cat's litter box to make sure he's defecating as he should be.
Is he coughing? Coughing can be caused by foreign bodies, hairballs, allergies, asthma, tumors, heart disease, lung disease, or several contagious illnesses. If coughing persists for over a day, don't wait - contact your veterinarian. If your cat is coughing over and over, has difficulty breathing, or abnormally bluish gums, he needs to see his veterinarian immediately.
Is his gum color off? If you suspect a problem, check the gums. They should be a deep pink, and if you press with your thumb, they should return to pink within 2 seconds after lifting your thumb. Very pale gums or slow re-pinking may indicate anemia, shock, or poor circulation. Bluish gums or tongue can mean a life-threatening lack of oxygen. Bright red gums may indicate overheating or carbon monoxide poisoning, and yellow gums jaundice. Tiny red splotches may indicate a blood-clotting problem. Tooth and gum problems will often cause bad breath and pain, with redness around the gum line.
Is his temperature abnormal? To take your cat’s temperature, lubricate a rectal thermometer and insert it about 1 to 1 1/2 inches into the cat's anus, leaving it there for about a minute. Normal is from 100 to 103 degrees F, averaging 101 degrees F. If the temperature is 104 degrees F or above, or 99 degrees F or below, call your veterinarian for advice; if it’s 105 degrees F or above, or 96 degreese F or below, go to your veterinarian.
Whenever in doubt, call your veterinarian. A false alarm is better than ignoring a sick cat