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Cats are notoriously good at hiding their sick symptoms from their humans--a trait felines have honed in the wild to protect themselves from would-be predators and alpha competitors. While this has served as a great tactic for cats to hide their weaknesses and maintain their safety, it does create challenges for their loving humans when trying to ensure their cat's health and wellness. Read on for 10 signs your cat may be sick, and learn what to do about it.

1. Unexplained Weight Gain and Loss

It's not uncommon to picture a cute, round, chubby kitty in your home. Years of living comfortable lives with unlimited food and treats is bound to make some cats little chonks. However, if your cat starts to gain a lot of weight over a short amount of time, despite no or little change to its diet, something may be amiss. Obesity in cats can lead to diseases like diabetes and heart disease, so understanding why your cat is overweight and how to reverse this is key. Similarly, unexplained and acute loss of weight can be dangerous for your cat too, and could be a sign of organ failure or diseases such as cancer. Do your research to determine what is a healthy weight for your cat's size, breed and age, and don't hesitate to call your vet if you have any concerns.

2. Litter Box Trouble and Stools

Has your cat had trouble using the litter box, eliminated in inappropriate places, had diarrhea, or stools with signs of blood? There are many reasons your cat could be experiencing difficulties when trying to go to the bathroom. Improper elimination of stools or urine could be the result of anxiety, fear or pain related to another cat in the home, parasites, urinary tract infection, etc. Loose stools, while normal at times, can lead to severe dehydration if not treated. Blood can be an indicator of a more serious illness or disease. Monitor the situation carefully to best determine the longevity and severity of the situation to better discuss your options with the vet.

3. Over-grooming and Loss of Hair

All cats love to groom and do a wonderful job keeping themselves, and their other cat roommates, clean. However, some cats go overboard and will lick parts of their body so much that they begin to show hair loss. In some cases, they may even lick themselves raw and create skin lesions. For some cats, this may be a stress response, while for others this may be relief from itching resulting from an unknown allergy or infection. Using an e-collar can help prevent your cat from hurting itself in the short-term, but for long-term help, you need to understand the root of the problem and seek appropriate medical treatment.

4. Behavior Changes

Is your cat normally a sweetie, only to become easily agitated and aggressive? Or is your social cat all of a sudden spending a lot of time alone? If you observe sudden and unusual changes in your cat's mood, temperament, or behavior, it may be a sign that something is wrong. Behavior changes can result from pain and sickness and need to be watched carefully. We all can have an "off" day, but sustained altered behavior may indicate a need for a check-up.

5. Loss of Appetite and Vomiting

Many cats have the reputation for being perpetually hungry. Given the right access to food and treats, they might not know when to stop eating! For this reason, giving your cats regular and measured feedings is advised to make sure they have access to an appropriate amount of nutrition. Plus, it is the easiest way to determine if your cat has had a change in appetite. If you notice your cat is not eating its food, it could be simply a picky eater desiring a different meal. However, if your cat will not eat at all, or begins to eat much less, it could be experiencing an illness, tooth pain, or other problem. Frequent vomiting could indicate the same, or be the result of eating too fast. Sometimes a slow feeder bowl can help with this, but if it is still persistent, have a chat with your vet.

6. Eye/Ear/Nose Discharge

Does your cat have discharge coming out if its eyes, ears, or nose? If yes, it could be a result of an upper respiratory infection or illness. These kinds of infections can be contagious to other pets in your home, so making an appointment with your vet is advised to get appropriate antibiotics.

7. Mobility Difficulties

As cats age, they may have increased mobility issues due to complications like arthritis. However, if you have a young cat that has started to show signs of difficulty moving, loss of balance, or depth perception trouble, take your cat to the vet. Your cat could have an injury, broken bone, infection or cognitive damage that may be impairing its mobility.

8. Changes in Breathing

Is your cat breathing heavy, wheezing, coughing, or seeming to be grasping for air? These are serious symptoms that should be addressed by a vet immediately. It is not normal to hear a cat breathing, so hearing any of the above breathing behaviors could be a sign of severe respiratory distress.

9. Lumps and Bumps

We all love to pet our cats, and most cats loved to be pet. It's a great way to show affection, remove loose hair, and bond with your feline friend. Additionally, giving your cat a good rub down familiarizes yourself with the texture and feel of your cat on a normal day. If you discover any unusual lumps or bumps, make an appointment with your vet. It could be a sign of an infection, injury, or cancer, and it is imperative to figure out if these protrusions are benign or malignant. 

10. Bad Breath

Many cats can sometimes have breath that is a little unpleasant to the nose. However, if you notice consistently strong odors from your cat's mouth, especially when accompanied by drooling, blood, or an abscess, your cat may need dental intervention. A rotted tooth, periodontal disease, and other complications should not be overlooked, as they can create infections and illness in other parts of the body if left untreated.

In Summary

No one knows their cat better than their humans. You love, watch, and care for your feline friend everyday and take note when your cat looks and behaves differently. If you notice any of the above signs that your cat may not be well, definitely make sure to talk to your vet and schedule, and emergency visit if necessary. If you need a good carrier solution to get your cat to the vet office safely, we offer various options. Remember to treat your cat with care and maintain their comfort and stress level as best as you can to make the vet visit as seamless as possible. With a little bit of patience and good treatment, your cat should be on the path to recovery in no time!

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