How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick

By Cuteness Contributor

"Is my cat sick?" It's a question that all cat owners will probably ask at some point. It's vital for cat owners know how to determine if a cat is sick because prompt treatment will be less taxing on your cat's health, making for a quicker recovery and less expensive vet bills. Read on to learn about the signs and symptoms of a sick cat.

TAKE THE CAT'S TEMPERATURE: Begin by taking the cat's temperature rectally. A cat's normal temperature will be between 100.5 and 102.5 degrees. Due to the natural variation in normal body temperature, take your dog's temperature when she's healthy to get an idea of her healthy baseline temperature.

EXAMINE THE CAT'S GUMS: A cat's gum color should be pink. Pale gums, grey gums, yellow gums, blue gums or brick red gums are all sign of a serious illness. Again, this is a case where it's useful to know what the cat's gums look like when she's healthy (also known as the cat's baseline.) A healthy cat's gums can vary significantly when compared to another individual cat, so it's useful to know what the cat's gums look like when she is healthy.

IS THE CAT LETHARGIC? A lethargic cat is usually a sick cat. This can result from illness, infection, disease, dehydration, internal bleeding, anemia, and poor appetite, among many other causes. Lethargy in a cat is a common symptom of illness.

IS THE CAT EATING AND DRINKING? When a cat is sick, she will often eat and drink less. It's also not uncommon for a cat to stop eating and drinking completely when she's ill. This is cause for serious concern, as the cat can begin to suffer from hypoglycemia and dehydration within a matter of a few hours.

IS YOUR CAT VOMITING? OR DOES YOUR CAT HAVE DIARRHEA? Diarrhea and vomiting can be signs of a life-threatening problem like poisoning from a toxin or an illness like salmonella. Secondary problems like hypoglycemia and dehydration can cause seizures, collapse and even death, so it's important to get a cat to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible if she stops eating and drinking. A cat with bloody diarrhea or vomit should get immediate attention at a local 24-hour veterinary clinic. Outdoor cats in particular are prone to hunting down and eating rodents who have been poisoned with rat and mouse poisons like warfarin. The warfarin toxin that was ingested by the rodent is then absorbed by the cat's body, resulting in bloody diarrhea and bloody diarrhea, among other symptoms. There are other causes of blood in a cat's diarrhea or vomit, but this is a particularly deadly situation that's most commonly seen in cats.

IS YOUR CAT SHIVERING, DROOLING OR PANTING? Shivering, drooling and panting are all signs of stress, pain and discomfort in a cat. A cat who is exhibiting these symptoms is in discomfort and pain - a sure sign of a serious feline illness, injury or another potentially deadly feline health problem.

IS YOUR CAT NO LONGER ENJOYING HER FAVORITE ACTIVITIES? A cat who enjoys to cuddle or a cat who likes to play will exhibit very different behavior when she is sick. Refusal to play, socialize, or seek attention are common signs of a sick cat. If your cat is acting strange and if your cat is refusing to take part in her favorite activities, it's likely due to discomfort from an illness, disease or injury.

IS YOUR CAT COUGHING OR SNEEZING? Coughing and sneezing are common symptoms of illness in Cats. A cat with an upper respiratory infection will not recover on her own; a visit to the veterinarian will be required. And remember: cats and dogs don't get colds like humans do!

IS YOUR CAT NOT USING THE LITTER BOX? A cat who suddenly refuses to use the litter box may be sick. There are some cases where changes in the cat's home life can cause the cat to stop using the litter box, but this is a behavior that should always be investigated as a health problem. A cat with a urinary tract infection or crystalluria may refuse to use the litter box, therefore health-related causes for litter box problems should always be investigated. Don't assume it's a behavior problem.