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Detecting Illness in Your Cat

The Humane Society of the United States

  • It's always better to be safe than sorry when trying to decide whether to take your cat to the veterinarian. istockphoto

Cats can't tell us where or when it hurts.

In fact, cats often mask illnesses, an instinctive behavior left over from their wild origins, when showing weakness advertised that they were easy prey.

That's why it's so important that you get to know your cat's regular habits and behaviors and keep an eye out for changes.

Any deviation from your cat's normal behavior could indicate a problem with his health.

Is my cat sick?

Some symptoms are obvious: diarrhea, vomiting, coughing, sneezing, runny nose or eyes, and trouble using the litter box. Other signs are more subtle. Take note if your cat does any of the following:

  • Misses more than one meal
  • Drinks more water than usual
  • Has no energy
  • Stops using the litter box or strains when he's using the litter box
  • Develops puffiness or a lump under the skin
  • Hides for more than a day
  • Becomes suddenly short-tempered or doesn't want to be touched
  • Frequently shakes his head 
  • Changes his routine or loses interest in his favorite games
  • Stops grooming
  • Exhibits the "third eyelid" (nictitating membrance) in the corner of his eye(s)

Don't hesitate to take your cat to the veterinarian if you suspect something's wrong. As the saying goes, "better safe than sorry."

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