How To Tell If Your Cat Is Sick

Rescue Cat

Everyone wants their cat to be happy and healthy. Cats being solitary creatures by nature do not always let us know when something is wrong or they are not feeling well. Today’s discussion will help you decide if your cat is sick.

A Healthy Cat

A Healthy cat displays all the signs of normal cat behaviour. They eat regularly and use the litter box. They purr and groom as usual. When you pick them up there are no sore or swollen areas. A healthy cat has nice pink gums. The gum line should not have unnecessary redness and the teeth should not show plaque.

To check if your cat is hydrated properly, pinch the skin behind the neck and release. If the fold falls flat again your cat is drinking enough water. If the skin stays up where it was pinched your cat is dehydrated.

Is My Cat Sick

Litter Box Issues

Let’s begin with the obvious things we look at every day. Good cat servants clean the litter box regularly as a cat will not use a dirty litter box anymore than you would use a dirty toilet. I have written several articles about the litter box and I believe that the open litter box that is regularly scooped out is one of the best indicators of your cat’s health. Please use the search bar for more articles on the litter box or follow this link to my post on Litter Boxes.

Peeing outside the box could be an indication of a Urinary Tract Infection, kidney disease or bladder stones. I like to watch my cats in the box occasionally to watch for crying when peeing or some sort of struggling. Blood in the urine is hard to spot in the litter box. If you can see blood in the urine a vet visit is necessary. My newest rescue Norbu went to five litter boxes one morning and I took him to the vet immediately and he was given antibiotics for an infection. Crystals in the urine will lead to organ failure if not treated. It always helps the vet if you could capture a fresh urine sample as this will save time at the vet office. If this is impossible your vet can extract a urine sample.

I copied a picture from Google of the Purina Fecal chart. This has been very helpful when talking to my vet. Cat diarrhea is serious and needs attention. If your cat has not been dewormed blood in the stool should be investigated as well. It should be noted that a drop of blood at the end of the stool is generally not a problem.

Cat Vomiting


Cat vomiting is an issue that will cause you concern. My senior cat Alexis was throwing up every meal. The cause turned out to be eating too fast and poor food. I put a golf ball in her bowl and fed smaller portions. This cured the problem. A cat that throws up after eating too fast will probably leave a long line of undigested food soon after eating.

Hair Balls are another reason cats vomit. My long haired cats love to be brushed and this helps a lot in reducing the hair ingestion during self-grooming. Alexis also gets Hair Ball cream daily. Please follow this link to a Wikipedia article on the Hairball for pictures. The hair ball cream helps the hair pass through the cat easily.

Poisoning will cause vomiting. Toxic plants will kill your cat quickly if medical attention is not immediate. Survival rates are poor from plant poisoning so please remove all toxic plants from your home. Pollen from some plants is equally toxic as the cat ingests the pollen through grooming. Please follow this Link to my Toxic Plants for Cats post. Cats with outdoor privileges can easily encounter toxins. I personally do not allow my cats free roaming privileges.

If your cats are vomiting in colors not associated with food or hair and there is blood present a vet visit must be immediate and if possible bring a sample of what they have eaten. I have had people tell me that they put out automotive antifreeze for pest control. This is very toxic to cats and every animal out there.

Another source of poison is mouse or rat bait. Cats that eat a poisoned mouse will be poisoned as well. This business of rodent control affects the whole food chain and is really an unacceptable practice.

My Cat is Drinking Lots Of Water

An increase in water consumption may indicate kidney disease, diabetes or possibly an issue with the thyroid gland. An overweight cat is a candidate for diabetes.

Lack Of Appetite

Lacy 2

My Lacy went off her food and was obviously not feeling good. A late night vet visit revealed she was dehydrated. She was given fluids and an appetite enhancer. I think that the real reason for her lack of appetite was that we rescued two kittens and she was emotionally overwhelmed by the event. She soon went back to normal. Lacy also started defending herself from pushy kittens and that really improved her mood. Cats are emotional too.

Old Cats

Old cat

We all get older and can not move as fast as we used to. Arthritis will cause sore joint and mobility problems. Your vet can prescribe medicines or supplements for your old cat. I give my senior dog China Omega 3 for her joints.

Do not give your cats human medicine.

To help our older kitties get around a person can start to build stairs so they can get on the bed. If your kitties are used to eating up high providing a low secure safe spot away from the dog would be appreciated.

My Cat Is Hiding From Me

Changes in your cat’s behaviour might indicate that they are sick or in pain. A cat that is normally out and about and has suddenly taken to hiding might indicate a problem. These kitties can become aggressive so handling should be done carefully. Take care until a general inspection can be done. Do not be rough on legs and try not to squeeze too hard until you have an idea what the problem is.

When getting your hurt cat to the vet putting them in the carrier might be hard. Wrap them in a towel starting by laying it over their head and then wrapping the legs. This way the kitty will be easy to put in the carrier for the trip.

During regular vet visits your cat might hide from you after some vaccinations. This is normal. Be sure to ask your vet about side effects after regularly scheduled vaccinations.

Eye, Nose And Ear Discharge

Eye or Nose discharge such as a yucky paste might indicate an upper respiratory infection. This condition is contagious and must be treated quickly. If this is accompanied by irregular breathing in any way it must be treated immediately.

Ear discharge or wax might indicate ear mites or an infection. Ear mites can infect other cats so treatment should be done as soon as possible.


A cat that is over grooming might have dry skin, a skin infection or external parasites. That is why an isolation period is necessary before introducing a new rescue cat to your group. If there is hair loss or excessive scratching it must be corrected soon.

There are shampoos and treatments available from your vet to treat these conditions.


In Conclusion

A healthy cat is a happy cat. A cat that is fed a good quality diet will save you in vet bills. If you are one of those cat owners that allows you to brush their teeth, congratulations. Dental care is where probably most cats are lacking. Your vet can help you with dental care. Every cat deserves regular medical checkups and a good diet.

It must be noted that no amount of internet advice is better than the advice of a qualified veterinarian. If you have any questions or comments feel free to do so below and never hesitate to call your vet if something does not look right.

I do not believe in free-roaming cats. There are just too many hazards outside to be worth the risk. This also means that most kitties do not get enough exercise. Toys are necessary or maybe a running wheel to help that kitty stay in shape.

Check out this example from Amazon.

That’s my story for today. Now hug a kitty and do something green for the environment. Maybe rescue a kitty or volunteer at a shelter. Don’t forget to check my Cat Care Products Page for something for that special kitty.


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2 thoughts on “How To Tell If Your Cat Is Sick”

  1. Not looking forward if my kitties get sick. But with your info on this topic will certainly help. Thank you Trevor 🙂

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