Is My Cat Sick?

resized sick cat

There will be lots of times in a cats life when we worry that they are sick, but just aren’t sure.  Read on for a few key indicators that will help you answer the question “Is my cat sick?”

Our cats rely on us to take care of them and notice when they are not well so that they can get proper treatment.  Unfortunately, cats are masters of not letting on that they are not feeling well, until they are very ill.  It’s a survival instinct that kicks in so that they do not appear vulnerable to other animals who might attack them, but one that does not serve them well in their domestic life with us.

There are of course obvious signs to tell you that your cat is sick and needs a vet visit ASAP – vomiting, diarrhea, crying out in pain, inability to perform toilet functions, changes in respiration rate, difficulty walking……

But before a cat becomes very ill, it’s often hard to tell that something is wrong. Fortunately, if you keep a watchful eye, there are serveral key signs that can alert you to a potential problem.

Eating –
We all know that cats can be finicky, so sometimes it’s hard to tell if a cat just doesn’t like the food we’ve given them, or if something else is going on.  But if you’ve been feeding your cat the same food for awhile and your cat suddenly becomes less interested in eating, or you are changing foods and your cat won’t eat anything you try, this is a red flag.

Change in Habits –
Cats are each different, just like people. That’s what makes them unique and fun – discovering each of their personalities.  Your cat might greet you at the door each night, sleep with you on your bed, or hang out in a favorite spot. Cats are very much creatures of habit, so if any of these habits change or stop, it’s time to take notice.  Hiding under the bed or in a closet is a definite sign they are not feeling well.

Play –
All cats love to play. It’s part of their natural hunting instinct. An older cat may not play as much as a younger cat or kitten, but will – or should – have some desire to play. A cat who has lost enthusiasm for play in general, not just with a specific toy, is signaling that they are not well.

Make note of any of these changes, and if your cat exhibits any of these signs, take him or her in for a check with your vet. It’s better to come away finding nothing was wrong after all, than to wait too long until the news is dire. There’s very often a reason when you sense that something is “off” with your cat. Trust your instincts.

We recently noticed all three of these changes in our seven year old cat Cailie. She seemed to be picking at her food, but we had been trying a new food with her, so wondered if it was just upsetting her tummy.  But she also didn’t hang out with us at night anymore, or sleep with us on the bed. And though she would play here and there, she wasn’t her usual lively, “running crazy through the house” self.  We sensed something was wrong, we just couldn’t put our finger on it. So off she went for a check with the vet.

Sadly, in our case it turns out she was ill, very ill. She has Corona Virus and very likely FIP, which ultimately is fatal, although FIP is a difficult diagnosis to make. We are devastated, and it will be a long, hard road, but at least she is getting some treatment for an illness which we would have missed had we not acted on a hunch, or tried to convince ourselves she was OK.

It’s sometimes easy in the rush of life to brush things off, thinking you are overreacting, or because you don’t want there to be anything wrong, or because your cat hates to go to the vet. But take the time to be watchful and investigate. Your cat’s life depends on it.

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