Skip to Main Content
Ask About Financing

Is my cat sick? Signs & Symptoms

Cats, like most other animals, are hardwired to protect themselves by hiding any pain or illness. This makes knowing your cat's usual behavior and addressing anything unusual very important. Here, our veterinarians in Memphis share some of the common signs and symptoms that your cat is sick and what steps you should take when it happens.

Signs & Symptoms That Your Cat is Sick

When your cat is sick, they will likely try to avoid you in an attempt to hide their discomfort. That's why it's critical to visit your vet in Memphis as soon as possible if you notice any of these signs or symptoms:

  • Sudden change in mood
  • No inclination to play or appear lethargic
  • Constricted or dilated pupils
  • Much less or much more vocal than usual
  • Rapid breathing or shortness of breath
  • Noticeable weight loss or gain
  • Sudden changes in appetite, drinking, or eating habits
  • Vomiting or diarrhea
  • Neglecting grooming or over-grooming
  • Hiding
  • Improper use of litter box
  • Hair loss or skin irritation
  • Bad breath
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Wounds or swelling
  • Limping or injuries

Knowing the Signs of a Sick Cat

You know your cat better than anyone else. So when asking, 'Is my cat sick?', you may already have the answer. Watch your pet for subtle changes in behavior that others may not notice, and monitor any changes in your cat's usual demeanor or body language. If something doesn't seem right, schedule your cat for an examination, even if you don't see any of the above-mentioned symptoms.

What are some of the typical causes of illness in cats?

Here are a few common illnesses that can develop and the signs that you may see for each:

  • Is your cat drinking far more water than is typical? This could be a sign of kidney disease, diabetes, or thyroid issues.
  • Bad breath can indicate that your cat is suffering from tooth pain or periodontal disease. Left untreated, dental disease in cats can lead to more serious problems, such as heart, kidney, and liver conditions.
  • A sudden increase in appetite can be a sign of inflammatory bowel disease, intestinal cancer, hyperthyroidism, or diabetes.
  • Have you noticed your cat is suddenly eliminating outside of the litter box? This could be a sign of anything from a urinary tract infection to kidney disease or bladder stones.
  • Breathing problems and reduced enthusiasm for play or activities can indicate an upper respiratory infection.
  • Arthritis or injuries can lead to a drop-off in your cat's acrobatic activities.

Does my cat need to visit an emergency vet?

While the symptoms listed above indicate that it's time to book a veterinary appointment for your cat, the symptoms listed below are much more serious. If your cat shows any of these symptoms, emergency veterinary care is required.

If you are unclear whether your cat's symptoms are indicative of an emergency, you can contact us, and we can help you decide.

  • Indications of severe pain, typically accompanied by loud crying or aggression
  • Seizure
  • Trauma
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Signs of pain while urinating
  • Discolored gums–blue, gray, white, or unusually pale
  • Bleeding that is moderate to extreme
  • Any exposure to poison
  • Vomiting blood
  • Unresponsiveness or unconsciousness
  • Unable to walk or signs of dizziness
  • Overly high or low temperatures (under 99° or over 104°)

What should you do if you think that your cat is sick?

If your cat isn't feeling well but doesn't meet the criteria for a veterinary emergency, you might be wondering how to care for them while you wait for your vet appointment.

Do not give your cat any human medications. Some medications that are good for humans to take for a cold, for example, can be toxic for our pets.

As with a human cold, make sure they have plenty of clean water and food close by. You should also bring the litter box close to them, but make sure it is cleaned continually throughout the day.

Depending on your cat's personality, they might feel more comfortable in a warm, hidden location like a crate while they rest. But if your cat prefers the company of their humans, make sure to spend some time with them to boost their spirit.

We always recommend scheduling an exam for your cat if you are concerned about their health. Your primary vet can provide a diagnosis and treatment if your cat is exhibiting any unusual behaviors. Early detection and treatment of illnesses can help prevent conditions from worsening or becoming life-threatening.

Cat illnesses or injuries often need urgent medical attention, surgery, or even emergency care. It is essential to seek professional veterinary advice as soon as possible. The sooner treatment begins, the sooner your furry friend will be acting more like themselves again.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing concerning symptoms that indicate a medical emergency? Is it happening outside of your primary vet's regular office hours? Contact our veterinary team at Animal Emergency Center right away.

Animal Emergency Center in Memphis

Comments About Our Care

  • "Great caring and well-qualified staff. Very concerned about their patients. Move things along as quickly as they can. Always glad they are here when we need them!"
    - Cynthia R.
Evening & Weekend Hours Regular Business Hours