Cats are hard-to-read creatures for an evolutionary reason.
Cats are cagey creatures by nature because they haven’t changed much since they made their way into our homes, boats, and barns. Unlike dogs, cats still have a lot of behaviors in common with their ancient ancestors, who had to be tricksters to avoid becoming a larger animal’s next meal. Predators hunt the most vulnerable prey on their radar to conserve energy. If a wild cat shows any signs of weakness, it puts itself at great risk. To protect themselves, they hide symptoms of illness and injury. Your domesticated cat will fall into the same pattern of behavior even if they trust you because that programming is too embedded to resist.
Changes in behavior are frequently signs of illness in cats.
Understanding a cat’s self-preservation instincts can help you pick up on signs that it’s unwell. For example, sick cats will often become withdrawn. They may go into deep hiding, avoiding even the siren call of a treat bag or favorite toy. If your cat is ill, it’s likely to sleep more than usual. Midnight zoomies become a thing of the past. A laser pointer won’t stir them. However, it’s important to remember that each cat has its own distinct personality. In some cases, naturally aloof cats may become clingy when they don’t feel well. This is the ultimate sign of trust from a feline and may be cause for concern if paired with other changes.
Changes in a cat’s coat can indicate a health problem.
When a cat is under the weather, they’re less likely to groom themselves thoroughly. As a result, their fur may become greasy and matted. The shine of its coat may dull, and you may begin to notice more dandruff. On the other hand, bald spots, raw skin, and rashes indicate your cat is over-grooming, which may occur if they’re experiencing allergies, parasites, arthritis, or extreme stress.
Changes in appetite can give clues about a cat’s health.
You should make a note of any change in your cat’s appetite. As the person who feeds your cat, you have a clear idea of how much they normally eat and drink. Metabolic diseases may turn cats into voracious eaters and drinkers while cats experiencing dental diseases may avoid eating altogether. Liver and kidney disease may result in a loss of appetite but increased thirst. If your cat doesn’t eat for a day or more, it becomes vulnerable to fatty liver disease, which can completely suppress your cat’s appetite for weeks. This can lead to expensive and extensive medical treatment for weeks or months, so seek medical treatment if your cat avoids food for more than 24 hours.
Changes in the litter box can also spell trouble for your feline.
As the keeper of the litter box, you know more about your cat’s bathroom habits than you ever intended to. That makes you an expert on the subject, and there’s a lot to learn about your cat’s health in the litter box. As with humans, changes in your cat’s bowel movements can mean trouble. Both diarrhea and constipation indicate something is troubling your cat’s GI system. Likewise, more or less frequent urination can indicate kidney or liver problems or diabetes.
Changes in breathing point to other problems.
Mouth breathing, shallow breathing, or panting may indicate your cat is experiencing respiratory stress. Cats with airway or lung issues like asthma or allergies may also be more prone to coughing and sneezing. If your cat’s coughing doesn’t produce hairballs, it could even mean that it is has a hairball too big to pass through the narrow opening into the esophagus. The large hairballs can pose a threat if they become lodged in the intestinal tract.
When it comes to your cat’s health, trust your instincts.
Generally speaking, if your pet’s behavior becomes unusual, it’s a good idea to at least touch base with your family vet. At Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital, we recommend routine physical examinations to establish baselines of your pet’s wellness and to allow us to catch issues while they’re still easily manageable. Your regular visits also give you a chance to ask questions or express your concerns. Schedule your pet’s annual wellness visit today. Call Gloves City Veterinary Hospital at 518-725-8117.