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Ways To Tell If Your Cat Is Sick

Updated on September 28, 2014

I have always had cats in my life. I was born and raised with cats in my household and in my adulthood, I have fostered and adopted many cats as well. I have had experience with sick cats. Sometimes there may be another explanation as to why your cat looks or acts a certain way. Here are a few ways to tell that cat a may be sick and may need medical attention.

The Cat Stops Eating And Drinking

When a cat who usually has a good appetite stops eating and drinking for a couple days or so, then it may be time to take the cat to the vet. When I have dealt with sick cats in the past, this is usually one of the first signs of sickness that I had noticed. Other reasons why your cat may not be eating may be that you changed the flavor or brand of food or the cat is feeling stressed. Cats may feel stressed when there is a recent move or another cat is introduced into the house. If nothing has changed out of the ordinary and your cat is not eating or drinking, a vet may be able to determine what the underlying cause may be.


A cat who suddenly appears lethargic and does not respond to cat toys may be sick. If your cat is usually playful and energetic, but is now drooping its' head, looking sullen and not interacting by playing, then it may be because your cat is not feeling well. Although there are other reasons why a cat may act this way, which might be due to the cat getting older and slowing down, it may be a good idea to have the cat checked out by a vet to see why the cat is sluggish.


If your cat is vomiting, it is not always a sign that the cat is sick. I have had cats who vomited after eating their food too quickly or after a change in the brand of cat food that I was feeding them. Also, a cat may have hairballs, especially a longer haired cat, or it may have eaten something that is difficult to digest and the cat may vomit. However, if your cat is vomiting a lot more frequently or if the vomit does not look like food, you may want to see a vet to determine the cause. Either way, it is good to have your checked out as excessive vomiting may lead to dehydration and there could be an underlying issue.

A Change In The Cat's Appearance

Sometimes a change in the way a cat looks can be a sign that the cat may be sick. If your cat has lost weight, it's eyes and/or nose are watery with discharge, or it's fur and coat are dull and lackluster,, then you may want to have the cat checked out by a vet. Any negative change in the way that your cat looks, may be a sign that your cat is sick. However, another reason why your cat's appearance may have changed is if the cat is getting older and aging or the cat is under a lot of stress. I had taken in a beautiful feral stray kitten into my home and she was very afraid of humans. She was so stressed out by being around humans that she began to look sick from the stress. When she became comfortable being around people, she started looking healthy again.

Drinking And Urinating Frequently

If you notice that your cat is drinking more than usual and is urinating very frequently, it may have a medical condition, that could be caused by a problem with the bladder and kidneys. There might also be a possibility that the cat could have feline diabetes. Drinking and urinating more frequently does not mean that the cat is definitely sick, but it is worth getting the cat checked out of this is out of the norm for your cat.

Green Or Yellow Discharge

I have fostered sick kittens from an animal shelter who were literally breathing through their mouths because they were so congested due to upper respiratory tract infections. These infections are quite common in animal shelters and they are very contagious. If your cat is breathing through it's mouth and it has a green or yellowish discharge coming from it's eyes and/or nose, then your cat may have a cat cold or infection. You may want to have the cat checked out by a vet because if the cat is diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, then the cat may be treated with antibiotics to help clear it up.

Blood In Urine Or Trouble Urinating

If you notice that your cat is having trouble urinating or it has blood in it's urine, then it may have a blockage or some kind of urinary disease. You may want to have this problem checked out by a vet as some urinary problems in cats could potentially end up being fatal.


Diarrhea may not always mean that a cat is sick. I have had cats who had diarrhea because of a change in their cat food or because of stress. However, if your cat has been having chronic diarrhea, especially if it is accompanied with other symptoms such as vomiting or being lethargic, then it may be time to take your cat to the vet to see what is causing the diarrhea.


Some cats, usually longer haired breeds, can become constipated due to hairballs in their digestive track. This doesn't mean that the cat is sick or has a medical condition, but if it is properly treated, it may help relieve the constipation. I know of cats who had problems moving their bowels due to hairballs. The vet suggested a prescription laxative to help get the bowels moving. If you notice your cat has not been using the litter box lately, it would be a good idea to have the cat checked out by a vet because hairballs may not be only the reason why a cat might be constipated. There may be other illnesses that could cause constipation in a cat.


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