Cats are generally healthy pets, however like all living things they can succumb to illness or declining health. Aside from having a trusting veterinarian that your cat sees on a regular basis, you should also be aware of your cats behaviors and characteristic signs of their overall health and appearance.
Signs of a Healthy Cat
Taking notice of your healthy cat will help you determine when your cat may be getting sick. Since you know your cat best, you will likely notice when something is not right. Some things to look for in a healthy cat are as follows:
- The cat’s coat should generally be shiny and silky. The body underneath should be smooth and free of lumps. Check your cat’s fur regularly for fleas, ticks, dandruff or bare patches.
- Cats should have bright, clear eyes. There should be no cloudiness or watering eyes. Red or yellow discoloration can be a sign of irritation or infection.
- Ears should be clean. An odor or discharge from the ears is a sign of infection.
- Your cat’s mouth should not expel bad breath. The gums should be pink and smooth, without redness or swelling.
- The nose of a cat should be clean and clear. Discharge or sores on the nose should be investigated.
- Cats can attract parasites. Ensure that your cat’s anus is not swollen and does not show signs of parasites or worms.
Signs of a Sick Cat
No matter how well you take care of your cat, they are susceptible to illness and disease. Once you recognize the signs of your healthy cat, you will be more apt to notice any odd signs that may indicate that your feline friend is sick and may need to see a veterinarian. A few symptoms to watch out for are as follows:
- Lumps or bumps that seem to growing or emitting a discharge.
- Shedding heavily accompanied by a dull coat. Also watch for thinning patches of fur.
- Watery eyes, red eyes or discharge from the eyes.
- Dirty or excessively itchy ears or ears emitting a discharge or foul odor.
- Labored breathing or panting; excessive drooling.
- Sneezing or coughing fits.
- Vomiting – particularly if excessive or persistent.
- Ignoring normal grooming habits.
- Refusing to use a litter box or urinating/defecating on the floor beside the litter box.
- Blood in the urine.
- Lack of appetite and/or listlessness.
- Drastic, rapid weight loss.
- Refusing to be handled (if normally tolerates being held or picked up). Also watch for uncharacteristic biting or scratching.
If your cat displays any of these symptoms, particularly if they are out of the ordinary for your cat, you should get your cat to a vet for a health check. Be sure to tell your vet what your cat’s normal behavior is and what the new, abnormal symptoms are. The vet should give your cat a full exam and check eyes, ears, nose and body for abnormalities. The vet may also run a variety of tests to determine the cause of your cat’s illness. Being aware of your cat’s behaviors and personality characteristics will greatly help you realize when your furry friend needs medical attention. Often times catching an illness early will help lead to a treatment that will provide your cat a full recovery and a long, happy life with you!