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Subtle signs your cat is sick


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Whisper is available for adoption at Cats’ Angels, Inc. in Austin, TX.

The makers of Feline Pine have dubbed August 16-22 National Take Your Cat to the Vet Week and we’re thrilled! After all, cats outnumber dogs in the U.S. by about 15 million, according to the CATalyst Council. But cats receive less-frequent veterinary care than dogs, and their signs of illness are often more subtle than their canine counterparts’.

Call your vet today and make sure your cat’s next wellness visit is on the calendar. (The American Veterinary Medical Association recommends taking cats to the vet for regular checkups twice a year.)

Until your next appointment, here are some of the less-obvious signs that your cat may be sick:

  • Bad breath: Stinky breath can indicate kidney problems and serious dental disease in your cat – and sweet or fruity-smelling breath can be a sign of diabetes. Consult your vet if you notice any bad or unusual odors when your cat opens his mouth. (Source: ASPCA)

  • Becoming more or less affectionate: “A
    previously clingy cat acting uncharacteristically aloof, or a more
    independent cat that suddenly transforms into ‘Velcro kitty’ are
    examples” of subtle signs of illness, according to the CATalyst
    Council’s great downloadable guide, “CATegorical Care: An Owner’s Guide to America’s #1 Companion.”
  • A change in appearance: An unkempt appearance and increased shedding can be symptoms of hyperthyroidism, a glandular disorder common in cats, or allergies.
  • A drop in eating or drinking: A sudden decrease in
    food or water intake can be a sign of several health problems, from
    dental issues to kidney disease to cancer. Not only that, the cessation
    of eating or drinking can itself lead to serious complications: I
    learned this lesson when a roommate’s cat became ill after not eating
    for a few days. If your cat stops eating or drinking for 24 hours, head
    to the vet.
  • An increase in eating or drinking: Veterinarian Dr. V, who blogs at Pawcurious,
    tells Petfinder, “Often times when we ask how a patient is eating and
    drinking, the owners will say, ‘Oh, Fluffy is eating amazingly! And her
    drinking is just stellar! We can’t keep her out of the water bowl!’
    Increases in eating and drinking can be just as significant as
    decreases, and are common early indicators of conditions such as
    diabetes and hyperthyroidism.” Inflammatory bowel disease, another common issue for cats, can also cause a voracious appetite.
  • Changes in poop or pee: If you notice a change in
    the frequency, color, smell, or volume of your cat’s waste, or in your
    cat’s pooping or peeing behavior, tell your vet. Increased urination may
    indicate diabetes,
    and if your cat suddenly starts straining or crying in the litter box
    or pooping or peeing outside the litter box, she could have lower urinary tract disease.
  • Something seeming “off”: “I tell owners not to
    underestimate their own instincts,” Dr. V tells us. “Cats are subtle
    creatures, and small changes in behavior can mean a lot. Owners who know
    their pets best are the best judges of that. One time a cat came in
    with no symptoms other than ‘His meow sounds different’ and he turned
    out to be hyperthyroid!”

So never forget to watch what goes into your cat and what comes out, and
to trust your gut. And call your vet today to schedule your next
checkup. Toby and I already have! (He’s thrilled, really.)

Tell us: How often does your cat go to the vet?

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Helpful cat-health resources:

CATegorical Care: An Owner’s Guide to America’s #1 Companion.


Pawcurious: A blog about pets and the veterinary field

American Veterinary Medical Association

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