August 22 is National Bring Your Cat to the Vet Day! Cat owners bring their feline friends into the vet significantly less often than their canine counterparts. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the main reasons is that cats are very skilled at hiding their injuries and illnesses. At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we want you to be aware of some of the things that may signal your cat is sick or hurting so that she can get the care she needs. The following could be some subtle signs your cat is sick:
1. Excessive vocalization
A sudden increase in meowing could mean a few different things. If your cat is an unspayed female she could be in heat. She could be hungry or asking for pets. However, if all of your cat’s needs have been met (i.e. food and attention), yet she continues to meow more than usual, look for any obvious injuries. Even if you don’t see a wound or feel swelling, consult us for a thorough medical exam.
2. Change in litter box behavior
If your cat suddenly starts going to the bathroom outside her litter box, you might think this is a behavioral problem. However, often it is actually a medical one! If the box is clean and she urinates outside the litter box, especially if she is good about using it consistently, it can indicate urinary tract disease, bladder infection, or kidney disease. Straining to urinate, blood or a red tint to the urine, or a change in smell can also indicate these conditions. If your cat has other symptoms, such as drinking excess water or straining to urinate, contact us immediately.
3. Cold Symptoms
You may not know that cats can get colds, just like people. While a cold is usually not cause for concern, if you notice your cat has eye or nose discharge along with sneezing or trouble breathing, it could signal an upper respiratory infection and she needs to see a vet. She also needs to see a vet if she is coughing or breathing heavily during normal activities—this could be a sign of heartworms, asthma, respiratory disease, or even cancer. If your cat’s symptoms last longer than the duration of a normal cold (7 to 10 days), if the symptoms begin to worsen or if new symptoms show up, bring her in for a thorough exam.
4. Sleeping A Lot
Cats normally sleep around 16 hours each day. But if your cat would rather sleep than eat, drink or play, it could be a sign that your cat is sick. If your cat goes more than two days without eating, she may develop a deadly metabolic disease called hepatic lipidosis, also known as fatty liver disease. If your cat is excessively tired or refuses to eat for more than a day, contact your veterinarian.
5. Fur Loss
Cats are notorious groomers and some fur loss is normal, but if yours begins to groom excessively or starts losing fur, it’s time to see the vet. Fur loss can be caused by a number of things including:
- Flea-preventative medication
- Thyroid disease
- Cushing’s disease
If your cat swallows too much hair, it could cause an intestinal obstruction, which is painful and potentially deadly. Its primary symptom is vomiting—it’s normal for a cat to throw up occasionally, but call us if your cat vomits more than once or twice in a row.
6. Bad Breath
Foul-smelling breath can be a sign of health issues in cats. Usually, it indicates the need for a good dental cleaning—or maybe even teeth extractions due to advanced dental disease. Bad breath can also be a sign of kidney disease. Fruity or sweet-smelling breath may signal diabetes. If you notice any unusual or noticeable changes in your cat’s breath, bring her in for an exam.
Give us a Call
Trust your instincts. If you notice any symptoms or changes that could be signs your cat is sick and you are wondering if she should see the vet, then she probably should. Be sure to also bring her in for routine checkups at least once a year. At Anasazi Animal Clinic in Gilbert, we believe that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. We understand that it can be stressful bringing a cat to the vet, but they deserve compassionate care just as much as our dogs do!