Cats are usually very good at masking when they aren’t feeling well, which can make it hard to tell if your cat has a potentially life-threatening illness.
On the other hand, just because your cat isn’t acting sick doesn’t mean he’s healthy either.
Sometimes cats have low-level infections or parasites that cause no real symptoms until they become more serious illnesses.
To determine whether your cat may be getting sick, look out for these 10 signs your cat may be sick.
1) Change in appetite
If your cat is hiding and not eating, it may be a sign that she’s sick.
Cats don’t hide or stop eating on purpose; they do so when they’re sick or are in pain.
If your cat isn’t herself, take her to a vet as soon as possible.
The sooner you can diagnose what’s wrong with her, the better chance you have of getting her back to normal quickly.
Even if you know she has an illness and needs treatment for it now.
It’s important to get her checked out by a veterinarian just in case there’s something else going on that might need attention too.
2) Change in activity level
If your cat has gone from being an energetic hunter to spending most of his time napping or hiding, it’s probably a sign he isn’t feeling well.
Also, keep an eye out for long bouts of inactivity—if your cat is sleeping 16 hours per day, something may be wrong.
And if you notice that your cat is moving more slowly than usual and seems lethargic, don’t assume he just needs a good night’s sleep.
There could be an underlying health issue.
Cats are stoic creatures who will suffer through illness without complaint, so pay attention to changes in behavior as much as possible.
It’s easy to overlook these subtle clues when we spend so much time with our pets.
But doing so can mean life or death when they are sick.
So while they might seem healthy at first glance, it pays to look deeper—and make sure they get proper medical care as soon as possible.
3) Becoming Aggressive
If your cat is hiding at all hours of day and night, constantly avoiding eye contact with family members, or suddenly seems fearful or anxious when they weren’t before.
There may be an underlying medical issue that should be investigated immediately.
Cats are not small dogs—they can die from being left alone for too long!
Make sure you have a plan in place for emergencies like these.
4) Staying away from the litter box
If your cat is not using its litter box or has recently started to use it less often, that could be a sign of an underlying health problem.
In these cases, it’s important to see a vet as soon as possible in order to get your kitty checked out and make sure everything is A-OK.
Cats are known for being very good at hiding their symptoms when they aren’t feeling well.
So if you notice any changes in behavior (particularly if they seem to come on suddenly), take them to a vet right away.
There are many different things that can cause cats to stop using their litter boxes.
Some of them can be serious problems that need immediate attention.
5) Nasal or Ocular Discharge
A cat that is hiding or rubbing its face against furniture, rugs, or people may have an eye infection.
Take a look at your cat’s eyes to see if they appear red, irritated, or watery.
If they do, take your pet to the vet right away—he or she may need antibiotics or other medication.
If you notice nasal discharge (which can be clear, yellowish, or green), runny eyes, or sneezing in addition to eye discharge.
You should probably call your veterinarian.
It could be a sign of allergies and/or an upper respiratory infection.
6) Loss of interest in playing
One of my cats, Fred, is normally very active.
I can throw a toy across my living room and he’ll chase it like he hasn’t eaten in days.
If your cat has suddenly lost interest in playing or just seems unusually sedentary.
Don’t shrug it off as anything – it could be a symptom of an underlying illness.
Take your cat to see his vet for a checkup.
7) Vomiting or diarrhea
Most people know what it feels like to be sick.
Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea associated with these conditions can leave you weak and dehydrated.
If your cat is not eating or drinking normally, it’s time to take action. Call your vet for an appointment.
Also, keep a close eye on how much water your cat drinks each day.
A healthy adult cat should drink about 2 cups of water per pound of body weight each day (that’s about 1 cup per every 5 pounds).
Pay attention to any changes in his behavior—for example, if he suddenly stops drinking as much water as usual.
8) Decreased grooming habits
A cat that is not grooming itself regularly could be showing signs of sickness.
Are you noticing dandruff or loose fur on your cat’s skin or in its bedding?
Is it developing patches of scabs and bald spots on its skin from lack of self-grooming?
It could be a medical issue rather than a behavioral one—ask your vet for advice.
This may also indicate something as simple as allergies, which can sometimes lead to weight loss.
If your cat has stopped grooming itself, see if it responds to antihistamines designed for cats.
They work just like they do in humans by suppressing allergic reactions.
You can also get drops that are made specifically for cats to help with itching, which may cause them to scratch themselves more often.
9) Unexplained weight loss
It’s normal for cats to periodically shed pounds due to seasonal changes, major life events (like moving or a new baby), or even stress.
But if your cat is regularly dropping weight without reason, it could be because he’s sick.
Any sudden change in activity level—especially accompanied by lethargy and/or hiding behavior—is cause for concern.
The first thing you should do is take him to your vet for a full checkup.
10) Developed a Stinky Breath
The smell of your cat’s breath can be an indication of a number of health issues.
For example, some gastrointestinal diseases result in the bad breath that smells like feces.
And cats with dental problems can have a putrid-smelling mouth.
If you notice that your cat’s breath is beginning to smell worse than usual, talk to your vet about what it could mean for their health.
Also keep an eye out for drooling or excessive saliva, which can also indicate that something is wrong.