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Silent Signs of a Sick Kitty

By Kathryn Waide

Silent Signs of a Sick Kitty

Cats are notoriously stoic. It's rare for them to show any obvious sign of illness. "As a general rule, any major or sudden change in a cat's usual activities and patterns requires some investigation," says Wendy Christensen, author of Outwitting Cats: Tips, Tricks and Techniques for Persuading the Felines in Your Life That What YOU Want is also What THEY Want (The Lyons Press). Here, an inside look at clues that your cat may be under the weather:

Pay attention to unexplained weight changes A pound or two for a cat is the equivalent of 10 or 20 pounds for us. And, if the weight change is rapid, the situation calls for veterinary attention, warns Christensen. A sudden gain or loss may signal cancer, kidney and liver disease, hyperthyroidism and several other conditions.

Note changes in eating habits, too If your pet turns up its nose after a few bites, it might simply be that new food you bought. "But disinterest in eating can also happen when a cat is under stress -- maybe some change is happening in your household -- experiencing tooth pain or tongue ulcers, dealing with hot or humid weather, or battling something more serious such as an upper respiratory problem, kidney failure, liver disease, diabetes, bowel disease, heart disease, cancer or feline leukemia," according to Christensen. So if your cat's food cutback or refusal to eat lasts longer than a couple of days, call your vet.

Be aware of drinking and urinating patterns These activities can indicate how well the kidneys are functioning. Often, excess drinking and urinating are the first signs of chronic kidney disease, since the kidneys may not be properly filtering toxins. "With veterinary care, diet adjustment and possibly medication, chronic kidney disease is a manageable condition, but it's best to catch it early," says Christensen.

Note elimination patterns If your cat is eliminating outside its litter box in significantly smaller or larger amounts than normal, or voiding blood, it may be a sign of medical or behavioral issues. See a vet for an evaluation. "Feline elimination problems, unaddressed," warns Christensen, "tend to get worse, not better."

Be aware of head shaking and ear scratching This can indicate ear mites (a parasite) or a bacterial or fungal infection -- a veterinarian can tell the difference. Don't try to diagnose this yourself, urges Christensen. "If it's mites and you treat for infection, your entire house can quickly be infested." 

Don't ignore kitty halitosis Persistent bad breath can point to a variety of illnesses, including kidney failure and gastrointestinal problems. It's not just a cosmetic issue, says Christensen. It needs veterinary attention.

Note changes in vocalization A silent cat who suddenly cries and calls at all hours, or a talky cat who's suddenly mute, may be experiencing pain, stress or confusion. Pay your vet a visit.

Take quick action if your cat bumps into things, has dilated pupils, and seems ill-at-ease in familiar environments All of these symptoms can indicate sudden blindness, says Christensen. Contact your veterinarian immediately.

writes about pets, health, nutrition and fitness. She's also the owner of Elmo, an 18-month-old black Labrador.


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Posted on July 17, 2009

Thomas R says: My cat seems to be having trouble breathing with her tongue hanging out. What is causing this?

Posted on October 23, 2009

t says: Hi, i rescued a kitten during a really nasty rain storm, washed and checked it over. no visible marks, a bit thin, but otherwise physically looked ok, with the exception that even though vision appears fine, her eyes dont dialate. pupils are wide open. also, doesnt move around much, seems to sort of walk in circles. im a dog women haha and out of my comfort zone here. but i simply couldnt leave it out in the inclement weather, and financially honestly dont have the resources to go through extensive testing if this is just a stress related thing. any help would be great. she is eating and taking fluids as well.

Posted on August 4, 2010

penny says: he is laying around house lathargeick sleeping all day seems sad or sick what should i do

Posted on August 4, 2010

penny says: why dosea he scratch around his bowl. like its covering up in litter box

Posted on August 27, 2008

Lisa Jenkins says: If your cat is exhibiting any of the sign above...take it to the vet! No one is going to help you if you post here, and even if they did - it's no substitute for a medical opinion.

Posted on February 11, 2009

Sherrill says: I have a female 18 year old indoor cat who has signs of kidney problems, not surprising at herage. She has always been healthy, hasn't left the house in many years. I am worried that a trip to the vet might be more stressful for her than coping with her aging kidneys. What should I do?

Posted on August 26, 2008

Sharee says: if you want to know what is wrong with your cat take it to the Vet. this Dr cannot diagnose your animal via email. It must be seen by a Vet. Please people!

Posted on June 30, 2008

Anthea says: my cat can no longer eat. she has a lot of saliva on her chin and she i think she is also in a lot of pain. can you tell me what she has and is it can be cured. thanks

Posted on November 14, 2007

Cassie says: I have a kitten that is 3 months old, I have noticed he is sleeping a lot and crys a lot. He is eating and drinking normal. His bowls might be a little to hard. It is not soft. He dose not play as much as he used to. I just dont know what is wrong. He has had all his shots. Please help

Posted on October 29, 2007

jessica says: HI MY CAT IS VERY GASSED UP AND HE IS BREATHING THOUGH HIS MOUTH PLEASE HELP

Posted on November 3, 2007

DeAnna says: My 5 year old cat has started hiding in my closet not eating much (a bite or two) and has been urinating usually outside the box, occasionally on carpets and clothing. he has never done this before and I am concerned that he may be sick he used to sit in our living room with us, now we have to hunt for him as he hides. he does not urinate often but when he does it seems a flood. I have not seem him deficate lately, abd I am worried. can you tell me how to deal with this? Thank you DeAnna

Posted on September 27, 2007

kimberly smith says: i love animals and i think your website is awesome.

Posted on October 1, 2007

margaret hansen says: My male cat is one year old, he has broken spots on his ears and stomach. we have changed his food, flea medicine and litter, with not luck, the DR has give him an antabiotic and cream to put on , it clears up for a while, then comes back. need help.

Posted on October 6, 2007

Nancy Reed says: My cat has recently had his tongue hanging out of his mouth, and a lot of saliva in his chin as if he is drooling,what is wrong with him?

Posted on October 8, 2007

Janice says: I took Lucy to the vet because she was unable to move her bowels. An xray showed a cigar looking hairball in her stomach. She had an enema and although much came out, she again is constipated. The vet said he would give her another enema. I'm not comfortable giving her another enema after only 5 days. Any suggestions?

Posted on January 18, 2011

Cat Lover says: Good Lord! Can NONE of you people spell or use proper grammar?

Posted on May 31, 2011

Jessica Lamoreux says: MY cat seems to be having problams going pee and number two drinks very little water and acting like he ahs to go pee and nothing comes out. he also has been doin alot of sleeping what do i need to do? and whatis causing this?

Posted on July 21, 2011

Bree says: My cat is acting strangely. He's usually very playful and active. The past few days he has been sleeping a lot and seems disinterested in any kind of activity. He physically looks different in his eyes and face, like he doesn't feel well. His eating and drinking habits seem to be normal though. What should I do?

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