Knowing the signs your cat needs to go to the vet is super important for helping ensure your feline friend stays in the best of health. Maybe your kitty seems a bit down in the dumps, or have they turned their nose up at their favourite treat? Whatever your concerns, read on to find out when a phone call to your local vet practice is in order and remember, if you are ever in doubt, it’s always best to err on the side of caution.
Note the normal: signs your cat is healthy
First things first, take a note of what is normal for your kitty. Just as with us hoomans, our feline friends are all individuals and what is normal for one, may be out of character for another. Often you will know when your kitty is under the weather without really thinking about it; spending time together on a daily basis means you will know the signs of a healthy cat and soon spot when something’s just not right. But if you’re unsure, read on for a checklist of things to keep an eye on.
Does your cat come running when there’s food on offer? Whether they polish off their portion and lick the bowl clean, or eat little and often, take note of what is normal for your four-legged friend. A reduced appetite is often one of the first signs of illness in cats.
Your cat should always have a bowl of fresh water on offer. However most felines, especially those who eat wet food, drink relatively little. Knowing how much your kitty drinks every day is really useful. An increase in thirst can be a warning sign of a number of health problems, including kidney disease – the sooner conditions like this are diagnosed the better.
- Activity levels
Your cat may like nothing better than to put their paws up in the sunshine. Or they may lead the life of a feline action hero, scaling fences and patrolling their patch. What is normal for one may be out of character for another, so take a note of your kitty’s preference.
Checking poop is unlikely to be at the top of your pet-owner priority list but knowing what is normal will put you ahead of the game when it comes to spotting signs of illness.
It can be tricky to know whether your pet’s weight has changed. Gradual weight loss (or gain) can easily go unnoticed when you see your kitty every day. Why not make sure your vet records your cat’s weight whenever you visit, to make it easier to keep track?
Signs your cat is sick
So, what are the signs your cat is sick? You’ve sussed out what’s normal but how can you tell if your cat is poorly or whether their change in routine has another explanation. It goes without saying that if you are not sure, it’s best to speak to your vet for advice.
- A change in appetite
Any changes in appetite can be a sign your cat needs veterinary attention. Turning their nose up at mealtimes has many possible causes, including lots that are easily treatable and some that can be more serious. Believe it or not, an increase in appetite can also be a sign of illness. Cats with an overactive thyroid (hyperthyroidism) often fall into this category.
- A change in thirst
Becoming thirstier (or polydipsia to give it it’s medical name), is a worrying sign in cats. Kidney disease and diabetes are two of the commonest causes of an increase in water consumption. Normally cats drink relatively little, but if you have noticed your feline friend at the water bowl more often or lapping from the garden pond, it is a good idea to book a check-up. Equally, not wanting to drink at all can be a sign your cat is sick, especially if they are off their food too.
- Altered activity levels
If your feline Bear Grylls seems to have signed up for a duvet day, it may be that they are not feeling their best. A trip to the vets is in order to get your feline checked over and back on top form.
Some illnesses may even make your kitty hyperactive! An overactive thyroid is quite common in older cats and often causes an increase in activity levels. If your feline OAP seems to have a new lease of life, it may just be that they are full of the joys of spring, but if your cat’s new-found energy levels continue, a vet check would be wise.
- Sickness or diarrhoea
An upset tum should almost always be checked by a vet. Dehydration can soon follow if sickness or diarrhoea persist, and prompt treatment will help to ensure a speedy recovery.
With all that our feline friends get up to, it’s no wonder that they get into the odd scrape. Jumping off fences or climbing the curtains, is all part of cat life, but can lead to injury if your cat is unlucky. For cats that enjoy exploring the neighbourhood, scuffles over territory can also result in bite wounds. If your feline seems to be hobbling, book an appointment with your vet.
- Difficulty urinating
Bladder inflammation (cystitis) is fairly common, and it can be quite serious, especially in male cats. If your kitty is visiting the litter tray more often or is showing signs of straining and difficulty in passing urine, you should seek veterinary help without delay.
So now you know the signs your cat is sick and the signs your cat needs to go to the vet, but when is it a drop everything, cat to vet emergency?
- When is it a cat vet emergency?
Our pets are members of the family, and when they are ill it can be a very stressful time. It’s a Sunday evening and maybe you are trying to decide if your kitty needs an emergency appointment or whether it can wait until normal vet opening times. In other words, how do you know if you are dealing with a cat vet emergency? You’ve guessed it – if in doubt, phone your vet. But here is our handy checklist of times when you should always dial without delay:
- Breathing difficulties, including panting or mouth-breathing
- Collapsing or unable to stand
- Frequent vomiting
- Pain, especially if severe
- Straining, or unable to pass urine
- Loss of use of one or more limbs
- Road accident
It’s a good idea to have a ‘cat vet near me’ list close to hand so you know who to call in an emergency. And remember you know your kitty best, so trust your instincts and seek help if needed. If you’re worried about your cats general health, we’d always advise a trip to the vets. You can also read up on cat health on the Vital Pet Club website.