Cat health problems are many and varied, and feline illness symptoms, like that in humans, often overlap. Your cat is at increased risk for developing illness if recently injured or debilitated by some other condition, or recovering from a procedure or surgery. In addition, your cat is also at higher risk if there is stress due to a recent life-changing event in the home. This may include the addition or removal of a family member or other pet, change of residence, or other event.
It's possible for your cat to contract viruses and bacterial infections such as a flu or a cold. She can also get parasites, diabetes, and certain cancers. In addition, there are any number of feline specific health conditions.
Some of these cat health issues will require treatment. If you suspect your cat has an illness, it's best to call your veterinarian up front and get some direction. That way, if things seem to get worse, both you and your vet will be better prepared to handle the situation.
General signs of cat illness -
Cat health problems of a general nature include some of the same things that people face when they have a cold, flu, infection, or injury. Symptoms such as coughing, sneezing, lethargy, and nasal discharge are common. If your cat has the flu, or an infection in the mouth, you may notice excessive drooling or fever.
Some other more serious signs of illness are excessive vomiting, blood in the vomit, evidence of worms, or signs of pain. If you notice that your cat has trouble breathing, walking, jumping, or faints or falls down, get her to the vet immediately. Also of concern is rapid weight loss or gain, or a bloating or tightness in the abdomen.
Eating and drinking -
A classic sign of a health problem in animals is refusal to eat, so loss of appetite is usually a sign that your cat isn't feeling good. Difficulty in chewing or eating, of course, is an obvious problem. Increased thirst is a sign of a number of diseases, including diabetes. Failure to drink can lead to dehydration, which can be life threatening. Hovering over the drinking bowl but refusing to drink is a definite sign of trouble if it happens for an extended period.
Defecation and urination -
Any indications of problems with urination or defecation may be a sign of disease. These behaviors should be watched closely, including any failure to use the litter box, as there may be a physical cause. Occasional constipation is common in cats, and is most often caused by hairballs, but if left untreated may develop into a serious condition. One of my readers found out that her cat had impacted anal glands and required medical treatment. In male cats, blockage of the urinary tract is life threatening, so difficulty urinating is a warning sign.
Other things to look for are evidence of blood in urine or feces, including black tarry stools, or crying out while using the litter box. Diarrhea may indicate intestinal disease and can lead to dehydration.
Keep alert to any changes in your cat's routine, and keep a journal. If you see warning signs of cat health problems, notify your vet and get advice on how to proceed. In part 2 of this article, we'll cover problems with the eyes, mouth, skin and hair, as well as behavioral changes that may indicate cat illness.
Kurt Schmitt has created a resource for cat lovers with over 150 articles, including many on cat health problems. Of particular interest are these more than 70 cat illness warning signs .