10 Subtle Signs Your Cat Might Be Sick - Cats.com (2023)

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While most pet owners can recognize the obvious signs of illness in cats, such as vomiting, diarrhea or tears, you may not be aware of the more subtle signs cats show when they are unwell.

That's because cats are predators of small animals in the wild, but they're also prey for animals like coyotes. Therefore, to stay safe, they tend to hide any signs of illness. This can make it harder to know when your cat needs help.

All cat owners should be aware of the subtle signs that their cat may be sick and need to see the vet. Here are the top ten signs of illness in cats.

#1Your cat is hiding more than usual

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Remember when I said that in the wild, cats are both predators and prey? It follows that when a cat is sick it doesn't want anyone to know about it and it has an instinct to hide and protect itself.

One of the signs your cat might be sick is if you see her less than usual, or suddenly find her hiding under your bed or in the closet, or she's less social than usual.

#2Your cat has a prolapsed third eyelid

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Photo credit: u/iwannalearntosurf

Did you know that your cat has three eyelids? This is true! Cats have two eyelids like humans, and then they have a protective third eyelid called a nickitans or nictitating skin that is pink in color and usually droops in the lower inner corner of the eye socket.

You may be able to see it when your cat is in a deep sleep. The third eyelid also creeps up when a cat is feeling ill and hangs halfway down, covering half of the eye.

If you notice that you look at your cat's third eyelid more often, or when the cat is awake, or if the third eyelid is red or swollen, this is a sign that your cat is ill.

#3Your cat will not jump or climb stairs

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If your cat isn't jumping or climbing stairs, it can be a sign that she's not doing well.

Cats are natural athletes and love to jump, climb and be in high places. When a cat stops jumping, it's a sign something is happening. The most common reason cats stop jumping is due to joint painArthritis.

Arthritis is very common in older cats, we just don't tend to recognize the signs. Cats don't tend to limp or cry when they have joint pain, they just stop jumping and climbing and get more sleep.

If you notice that your previously active cat who enjoys running, jumping, and playing is dropping those activities and instead just running, or if you notice your cat being reluctant to go up or down stairs, your cat might be do have arthritis pain.

#4Your cat has a picky appetite

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Although poor appetite is often caused by health problems, cats may simply refuse to eat foods that are nutritionally inadequate or unsuitable.

We all know cats can be picky about what they eat. If your cat has been a picky eater all its life and has been seen by a vet, this is probably not a sign of illness in your cat. However, if your cat previously had a good appetite and suddenly turned its nose away from the food, there is likely a problem with the food or with your cat.

It is VERY important to involve your vet if youThe cat has not eaten for 48 hoursBecause if cats don't eat for several days, they develop a life-threatening liver problem called hepatic lipidosis. If your cat stops eating for more than a day, or if your cat reduces the amount she eats over several days, call your vet to see them.

#5Your cat suddenly develops an insatiable appetite

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So I know I just said that when a cat stops eating is a sign of illness, the opposite is also true! Various diseases in cats, including diabetes mellitus,hyperthyroidismand Cushing's syndrome can increase a cat's appetite.

If your cat is suddenly eating more and is skinny or losing weight, it is definitely a sign that your cat needs veterinary attention.

#6Your cat is losing weight

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A cat that loses a lot of weight is very likely to suddenly have some kind of health problem.

Unexpected weight loss in a cat is caused by not consuming enough calories or by burning calories too quickly. Cats may not eat enough when they are stressed, in pain for any reason, including dental disease, or when they are nauseous.

This can happen under many conditions includingNephropathy,inflammation of the urinary tract, ÖPancreatitis. Alternatively, cats can eat enough but lose calories due to diseases such as intestinal parasites.Krebs, ÖDiarrhea. Don't know if your cat is too skinny?

you can use the...Hand testto find out or tryhealthy weight calculator.

#7Your cat drinks a lot and urinates a lot

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Several medical conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes mellitus, and Cushing's syndrome, cause a cat to drink and urinate heavily.

If your cat suddenly starts spending a lot of time in the water bowl, empties the bowl faster, goes to the litter box more often, or pees in the litter box, then it's probably a sign that your cat is sick.

Try bringing a urine sample to the vet clinic so staff can examine the urine for disease.

#8Your cat is urinating and/or defecating outside of the litter box

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A cat that has stopped using its litter box is trying to tell you something. This is a sign of stress or illness and means your cat needs your attention.

It's time to dispel a myth! Cats are not mischievous when they pee or poop on your bed/linen/carpet/toilet. When cats do this, it is a sign that they need HELP.

Also read:6 Common Reasons Why Cats Pee Outside the Litter Box

Leaving the litter box is called inappropriate waste and is a sign that something is wrong with your cat. Stress from any cause, including pain and gastrointestinal and urinary tract disorders, is often the cause of inadequate elimination.

#9Your cat has greasy or matted fur

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Most cats only need to be bathed after they have been in contact with material that cannot be licked off by the body.

Healthy cats are often demanding groomers. When your cat stops grooming, it's a sign that something, such as pain, nausea, or stress, is causing your cat to stop its daily grooming routine. Even obesity can affect a cat's ability to groom itself properly, leading to matting or other problems with the coat.

Even if your cat has greasy furexcessive dandruffthis could be a sign that your cat isn't grooming itself properly, or it could be a sign of a skin condition called seborrhea, which can be treated.

#10Your cat makes faces when it eats

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You probably havewatched the videos on social mediawhere a cat is fed something, often cold, and makes the funniest face after a lick or two.

While we humans laugh about it, the cat doesn't find it very funny because the funny face is due to a sore or sensitive tooth.

Feline odontoclastic resorption lesions, or FORL for short, are dental problems in cats that are similar to tooth decay in humans, except they are not caused by bacteria. We don't know the exact cause of FORLs, but we do know that the condition gnaws at the teeth, exposing the pulp cavity and causing pain and inflammation.

So if you see a cat flinching after something (usually a cold) it is because that cat is in PAIN and needs to see a vet.

Here we go! You now know the most common subtle signs of feline illness, and hopefully this information will help you take better care of your cat and lead a longer, healthier life.

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