ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Pets and Animals»
  • Cats & Cat Breeds

Cat Illness Symptoms- when to call the veternarian for help

Updated on June 29, 2011

Cat Illness Symptoms

Cat illness symptoms are so difficult to diagnose- you can't ask your pet if they feel ill, or indeed are they in pain and where is it? Yes, if they bite you when you touch an area of their body, that is an indication, but it is hurtful to both you and your cat to do it! Taking the animal to the veterinarian can be expensive for you but also disruptive and frightening for the cat. My boys, Tiggy and Bagera leave home once a year for their annual check up and I get a clear message from them- don't take us out again!

Tiggy and Bagera

What's up?
What's up? | Source

Cat Illness Symptoms- when to get help

Just like humans, if your cat's illness gets worse or is still present after two or three days take her to the veterinarian. If you can't afford private care, look for animal welfare organisations that may be able to offer help at reduced cost.

Cat illness Symptoms- Prevention

The main way that you can prevent illness in your cat family is to provide a clean and comfortable home. If they live indoors they love a clean bed (probably yours) and need their food and litter trays cleaned regularly. Just as you wash your own dishes and disinfect your toilet to avoid disease, so you should do the same for your cat to avoid tummy bugs and the spread of sickness bugs. This is extremely important if you have more than one cat or your cat goes to play outside and there are a large number of neighbouring cats.

Cat Illness Symptoms- Refusing food

It is really worrying when you go to feed your cat and it looks at what you have put out, and promptly walks away! Your cat could be ill, but in my experience, (over 40 years of sharing cat's homes) it is usually because they don't like it. Sometimes they just get fed up with the taste, or the manufacturer changes the taste and they don't like it. Your cat can't read the label that says "new and improved taste" all she will say is "I don't like it", and leave the food- then mew all evening that she is hungry, until you relent and open another food. If she misses two or three meals and you have served a variety of flavours then a trip to the veterinarian might be in order just to check if she is uncomfortable because of something else.

Depressed on a dull day
Depressed on a dull day | Source

Cat Illness Symptoms- Depression

Cats are like us, they get depressed, which means they go off their food and don't want to do anything. Often this is associated with lack of sunshine so maybe a sunlamp might be a good idea if your cat is really depressed. Bagera is prone to this and when he won't move, I start to play with him and at times have even put him outside in the garden, it might not be sunny, but it’s not cold and he gets some fresh air! He usually snaps out of it pretty quickly as with a large family there is usually something going on to distract him, or he finds he is suddenly scooped up in the air by my son to say "hello"

Cat Dancer 301 Cat Charmer Interactive Cat Toy
Cat Dancer 301 Cat Charmer Interactive Cat Toy

Interactive cat toy designed to charm, not harm

Polycarbonate wand

Colorful fabric

Excellent aerobic exercise; safe for all kittens, cats,


Cat Illness Symptoms- Deaf or blind

As cats get older they suffer many of the illness symptoms that humans suffer from. Cats go blind and they lose their hearing- obviously they can’t be fitted with glasses and hearing aids. If this happens, the blind cat will adjust moving slowly finding his or her way around their home. Complications will arise if they have to change homes so try to avoid having house moves if your cat goes blind. Deaf cats operate on a “business as normal” bass, apart from the fact that they can’t hear what is going on around them. They completely ignore warning cries from other cats, I saw a deaf, elderly cat walk past the areas “brawler” as if he wasn’t there- he was hissing and spitting, but she couldn’t hear and just walked past him.

Cat Illness Symptoms- taking her temperature

To take a cats temperature you have to insert the thermometer in her bottom. You will need help and it may help to have a towel around her to stop her scratching and biting you. Cat temperatures are different to ours. Normal is around 38.6 c or 101.5 F or maybe even slightly higher. However if the temperature is over 39.2C or 102.5F, it is best to give the veterinarian a call as they may suggest that they need to see her.

Grooming- an essential part of your cat's routine
Grooming- an essential part of your cat's routine | Source

Cat Illness Symptoms- Diabetes

Feline Diabetes- yes cats can get diabetes too. Like us the symptoms are increased urination and thirst. Left untreated the cat will become very poorly, very quickly. Like us there is a genetic predisposition amongst certain families of cat, so if mum had it, the kitten may be more likely to have it. Age can also be a determining factor; maturity onset diabetes is becoming more common as better healthcare is resulting in our cats living longer. Weight is an issue, as it is for humans and the best preventative medicine is that you help your cat keep a good weight rather than overweight. I know that could be easier said than done, especially with an older cat, or one who lives indoors. If a cat has feline diabetes which is left untreated it can lead to vomiting, loss of appetite, weakness and dehydration. With treatment and proper cat care your cat can live a long and healthy life even if she has feline diabetes.

Nature's Variety Canned Cat Food, Feline Instinct Chicken Diet (Pack of 12 5.5-Ounce Cans)
Nature's Variety Canned Cat Food, Feline Instinct Chicken Diet (Pack of 12 5.5-Ounce Cans)

Instinct is grain-free and gluten-free - perfect for satisfying a pet's carnivorous cravings and nutritional needs.


Cat Illness Symptoms - food allergies

Allergies- cats can be allergic to certain types of food. They can be intolerant of certain proteins within food. I suffer from Celiac disease which means I am intolerant to the protein gluten found in wheat. Bagera has had quite a lot of sickness and diarrhoea and the veterinarian thought this might be his problem (my celiac is hereditary) so I tried lots of different foods until I found one that he could eat that did not make him sick. I give him and his brother a little boiled chicken a couple of times a week to vary it. I would give them fish but Bagera does not like it!

Cat Illness Symptoms- bad teeth

If you think your cat has a problem with its teeth or is not eating food that it would normally- check her teeth. Choose a time when the cat is relaxes, probably on your lap and raise the upper lip of the cat’s mouth. Teeth that are brown need cleaning, just as our own they have tarter and plaque build up. If your cat has bad breath or has a raised red line over their teeth they may have gingivitis which is a bacterial growth. As they get older some cats need to have teeth removed, but this is done under a general anaesthetic.

Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Cats, Fish Flavor, 96 Count
Virbac C.E.T. Enzymatic Oral Hygiene Chews for Cats, Fish Flavor, 96 Count

Combines natural antiseptic activity with abrasive action for clinically proven plaque and tarter control

Miracle Care Ear Mite Relief Resealable Bottle, 4-Ounce
Miracle Care Ear Mite Relief Resealable Bottle, 4-Ounce

Gimborn R-7 Ear Mite Relief for Cats and Dogs is a product designed to be used after treatment of an ear mite infestation. Gimborn R-7 Ear Mite Relief for Cats and Dogs naturally soothes redness, itching and inflammation associated with an ear mite problem. Gimborn R-7 Ear Mite Relief for Cats and Dogs relieves the discomfort caused by ear mite bites.


Cat Illness Symptoms - Ear Mites

Ear mites- does your cat continually scratch her ears? They can be a really difficult area for her to clean and if she can’t stop scratching she may have ear mites, tiny kittle bugs that you cant see, but really cause her to itch. In this case you should see the veterinarian as soon as possible as he will have to identify under a microscope that she has them and prescribe ear drops and give her ears a through clean.

Cat Illness Symptoms - Hairballs

Hairballs- all cats get hairballs but long haired cats suffer more. If you can groom your cat regularly it stops the hairballs forming so quickly. They usually sick the fur ball up, right where you don’t need it. Various treatments are available from your pet food supplier or your veterinary surgeon.

Whiskas 08541 Temptations Hairball Control Cat Treats, 2.1-Ounce (Pack of 12)
Whiskas 08541 Temptations Hairball Control Cat Treats, 2.1-Ounce (Pack of 12)

Whiskas temptations hairball control chicken flavor treats for cats has a tasty chicken flavor your cats will love.Convenient foil sealed pack locks in freshness and is resealable to ensure the best flavor every time.


Cat Illness Symptoms - Tapeworms

Worms- It is important to work your cat regularly. If your cat has tapeworms you will see little white micro organisms under her tail and on her stools. The tapeworm can only be stopped by medication. A cautionary tale was a friend of mine who was showing her cat off and failed to notice a tapeworm crawling out of her cat’s bottom. Luckily the visitor, who was a nurse, grabbed a pair of gloves from her bag and pulled out the worm. Thereafter all the families cats were urgently wormed.

Cat Illness Symptoms- In Emergency


Like us there are times when cat’s illness symptoms indicate a possible emergency. These symptoms are almost the same as for humans.

· If your cat does not respond, are they breathing, is there an obstruction- seek help

· They are breathing, but its slow and laboured- get her to the veterinarian quickly, it could be pneumonia or even a cardiac arrest.

· Drooling- they can’t stop the saliva running- seek a vet quickly.

· Vomiting- if it is severe and does not stop quickly your cat can become dehydrated – seek help as they may have eaten something that is now causing them difficulties.

· Diarrhoea- again if it is severe it can cause dehydration – if the diarrhoea is severe and especially if it involves a kitten get help soon

· Gums- if your cats gums go a funny colour- if the gums go pale or blue take them to the veterinarian as they could have respiratory problems whilst a yellow tinge might indicate jaundice- again a trip to the veterinarian is necessary.

· Fever- if you suspect a fever try and take the temperature, but if you are not sure aim for safety and take her to the veterinarian


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Sally's Trove- thanks ever so much for your comment, yes you are right about them hiding but i dont want to worry the novice cat owner cos sometimes they hide anyway when when they are well! For instance we have drawers in our bed and my husband took one out to fix- could not find Tiggy anywhere- he was in the hole left by the drawer in the bed- i had to spend ages picking ginger fur off towels

      Thanks for the king comments about my boys, they need feeding at the moment so are looking pointedly in my direction!

    • Sally's Trove profile image

      Sherri 6 years ago from Southeastern Pennsylvania

      Just to add to your great Hub about kitty symptoms...

      ...Weight loss while still eating, drinking, and eliminating as usual is a huge flag. Reasons could be non-functioning thyroid or tumors. Unfortunately, by the time you notice the slowly progressing weight loss, it may be too late.

      ...Hiding. When a normally socially engaged kitty takes to hiding, secluding himself in a closet or under a sofa, something's going on. When cats are ill, they often hide.

      ...Cats and dogs don't express pain like we do (unless under huge duress, where they'll strike out upon being touched even by loved ones). Instead, they hide, refuse to eat, become lethargic. The signs are so subtle that we humans might think in terms of minor depression or unhappiness or disturbance from a routine. But this is often the animal's way of showing pain.

      Your pics of Tiggy and Bagera are beautiful. I had an orange kitty and a muted calico (salt and pepper and cream like yours), brother and sister. I miss them so much.

      Up and very, very useful.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      CMHypno- yes you are right, but thankfully for most of us it does not happen very often. My two- the stars of this hub are asleep in the garden- probably discussing the new gluten free cat food i have bought!

    • CMHypno profile image

      CMHypno 6 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      Thanks for an interesting hub on cat symptoms, Case1worker, it is always distressing when one of our pets gets ill and, as you say, they can't tell us where they are hurting.

    • CASE1WORKER profile image

      CASE1WORKER 6 years ago from UNITED KINGDOM

      Freya Cesare- she may have ear problems- it might not be her teeth, she might not like dried food- Tiggy ( the ginger one) hates it. You should try and take her to the veternarian at least once a year so she can be checked over.

      FloraBreenRobison- sorry to hear you had a problem- it must have been quite frightening, they are so like us, allergic to some things , but what is so annoying is that they cant tell us what is wrong. You are right though a cat that takes its medication without struggling, must be ill

      Thanks to both of you for being the first readers of my hub

    • FloraBreenRobison profile image

      FloraBreenRobison 6 years ago

      Perhaps the number one sign your cat needs emergency medical care-when she stops panicking and trying to escape you when you try to give her medication. You might want to add to your hub allergic reactions to vaccines. This very nearly killed my cat this weekend. I got her to the vet just in time.

    • Freya Cesare profile image

      Freya Cesare 6 years ago from Borneo Island, Indonesia

      Ah, my kitty keep scratching her ears and because she hate dry food, I am afraid she has teeth problem. Hhhh... poor baby. Thank you for the info, case1worker. I am new in taking care cat, so I still need to learn much about it.