Signs of Illness in Cats

Cats can be quite mysterious, and don’t always want to let on when they don’t feel well. Therefore, it’s important for pet parents to know what to look for. Here, a Columbia, MD vet lists some telltale clues that Fluffy needs veterinary care.


While some kitties are scaredy-cats who will bolt for their favorite hiding spots as soon as the doorbell rings, others are friendly and fearless. What you want to look for here is excessive or uncharacteristic withdrawal and isolation.

Unkempt Fur

Generally, kitties are very diligent about keeping themselves clean. Your cat will groom herself every day to keep that fur soft and clean. However, if Fluffy is sick, she may neglect her usual beauty routine. If she does, her coat will soon start looking matted or greasy.

Change In Appetite/Thirst

Reduced appetite is a red flag in almost all animals. Fluffy can be rather finicky, but she should still show some interest in her food. If your cat isn’t eating, there may be something going on with her. An increase in food consumption can also be a warning sign, as can changes in your feline friend’s water consumption.


It isn’t unusual for Fluffy to have the occasional hairball. However, frequent or excessive vomiting is definitely not normal.

Litterbox Woes

Watch for changes in the amount, color, or texture of Fluffy’s waste. Also, if you see your pet straining to go, call your vet immediately: this often indicates an emergency.

Respiratory Issues

Healthy cats breathe quietly through their noses. You really should never hear Fluffy breathing, except maybe if/when she is just snoring lightly. Wheezing, coughing, and/or gasping are all red flags.

Uncharacteristic Behavior

We chose the word ‘uncharacteristic’ instead of unusual here, because if people brought their cats in every time they did something unusual, our waiting room would be overflowing with kitties every day! What you want to look for are things that aren’t normal for your cat. For example, a quiet feline that suddenly won’t stop yowling could be sick.


Being sick isn’t usually much of a mood booster for people. The same is true for cats. If Fluffy seems crankier than usual, she could be sick.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your pet, please contact us, your Columbia, MD vet clinic, right away. The sooner an issue is caught and treated, the better!

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