Like dogs, cats cannot tell us when they are unwell or ill. However, by looking out for a few telltale symptoms, you can ensure that any cat health problems are caught early and that your cat’s health is looked after properly.
The first symptom that may indicate that all is not well with your cat’s health is a loss of appetite. If a normal, healthy cat suddenly becomes disinterested in their food and you have eliminated the fact that they may just have ‘gone off’ one particular brand of food (cats can be fussy eaters, just like people), then their loss of appetite could indicate a more serious underlying problem. Vomiting and diarrhoea or constipation are also signs that there are cat health problems that could be compounded by a loss of appetite. Cats can lose a lot of body weight very quickly, so a loss of appetite should not be ignored.
If your cat is losing weight but their appetite seems unaffected, it could be a symptom of intestinal worms. While regular worming should be part of your cat care regime, some infestations may require the attention of a vet to ensure your cat’s health doesn’t deteriorate further.
Cats are fastidious groomers, and a very clear symptom of cat health problems is a reluctance to groom. A sick cat will often stop cleaning themselves due to a lack of energy or general feeling of malaise, and their coat will quickly become dull or matted. Cat skin problems are also common, often caused by an allergic reaction to fleas or to an allergen in the home. Watch out for excessive scratching, dandruff and hair loss and ensure that any symptoms are treated quickly. Skin allergies in dogs and cats can cause sores to develop, which can easily become infected.
One of the most worrying symptoms for any cat owner is excessive thirst. If your cat begins to drink far more than normal, it can be an indication of kidney failure or diabetes. If you notice your cat drinking more, seek the advice of your vet immediately. By the same token, excessive sneezing can be a symptom of an allergy or a more serious cat health problem such as cat flu or leukaemia. While inoculations against cat flu are now readily available, the disease can spread very quickly between cats and cause some serious long-term cat health problems.
By watching out for common symptoms you can ensure that your cat’s health is protected from treatable diseases and illnesses quickly and effectively.