Did you know that September is Happy Cat Month? (Check out the CATalyst Council’s website for more cat-friendly information.) To help our cat owners celebrate this month, we’re going to dedicate a few blog articles to these fantastic creatures, so stay tuned this month! (Don’t worry, dog lovers, we won’t leave you out – here is some information for you!)
Cats are very good at hiding their illnesses, and may only give you very subtle hints that they aren’t feeling well. Do you know what clues to look for? The short answer is that anything that is a change from their normal behavior can be a sign that something isn’t right. Here are five more specific clues that you can use to tell that your cat might not be feeling his best.
- Change in Interaction. Is your cat usually a lap cat, but for the last few days he has been spending most of his time by himself? Is your cat usually a loner, but has been looking for more attention lately? Is he usually social, but has been hiding recently?
- Change in Activity. Is your cat usually playful, but has been pretty quiet for a few days? Have you noticed that he is having trouble climbing steps or jumping onto the furniture recently?
- Change in Eating or Drinking. A decrease or an increase in eating or drinking can be signs that something is wrong.
- Change in Weight. While most indoor-only cats could stand to shed a pound or two, dramatic changes in weight (either losing or gaining weight), without an effort on your part to change the amount of food or exercise they are getting can mean that there is a serious medical problem.
- Change in Vocalization. While it might be nice to have a once-loud cat start to be a little more respectful of your quiet time, this may also mean that they aren’t feeling well. A change in the other direction (a quiet cat who starts talking a lot) can also mean that he isn’t feeling his best.
These signs can be very subtle, and can slowly occur over long periods of time like weeks or months (especially changes in weight). Paying close attention to your cat’s normal daily habits and routines can help to alert you early that your cat may be having some trouble, if you do notice a change. Yearly physical examinations with us (or your regular veterinarian) can help catch signs of illness early, perhaps even earlier than you may notice any changes at home. Some problems can be picked up on a physical examination before your cat is showing outside signs that he isn’t feeling well. If your veterinarian finds anything “not quite right” on a physical examination, he may recommend blood tests, x-rays, or other tests to follow up on the problem and find a diagnosis and treatment plan to get your cat feeling better.
All five signs listed above could be caused by many different medical problems. If you notice any of these signs that your cat may be sick, or you notice any other changes from their normal behavior, call us or come in for an appointment with our veterinarians. Because cats hide their illnesses so well, by the time you notice problems at home they may be very sick and need medical attention quickly.