There are serious symptoms that should never be ignored in your cat. A symptom is defined as “any problem that can indicate an underlying disease” and may be your first clue to the presence of a life-threatening problem in your cat. Here is a list of 16 symptoms that should never be ignored if you see them from your cat!
1. Not Eating or Loss of Appetite. Anorexia is a term used to describe the situation where an animal loses his appetite and does not want to eat or is unable to eat. There are many causes of a “loss of appetite” and is often the first indication of illness. Regardless of cause, loss of appetite can have a serious impact on an animal’s health if it lasts 24 hours or more. Young animals less than 6 months of age are particularly prone to the problems brought on by loss of appetite. This is often one of the first symptoms of illness in cats and can be your first clue to a problem. Click here to learn more about loss of appetite.
2. Trouble Urinating. “Trouble urinating” can include straining to urinate, frequent attempts at urination, spending more time in the litter box, urinating outside of the litterbox and/or evidence of discomfort when urinating. Discomfort may be demonstrated by crying out during urination, excessive licking at the urogenital region or turning and looking at the area. There are several underlying causes. One cause of this problem is a urinary obstruction which can be life threatening. Some of the causes if left untreated can result in death in as little as 36 hours. Click here to learn more about cats having trouble urinating.
3. Losing Weight. Weight loss is a physical condition that results from a negative caloric balance. This usually occurs when the body uses and/or excretes essential nutrients faster than it can consume them. Essentially more calories are being burned than are being taken in. Weight loss is considered clinically important when it exceeds 10 percent of the normal body weight and is not associated with fluid loss. There are several causes for this, some of which can be very serious. Click here to learn more about weight loss in cats.
4. Breathing Problems. Respiratory distress, often called dyspnea, is labored, difficult breathing or shortness of breath. This can occur at any time during the breathing process, during inspiration (breathing in) or expiration (breathing out). When your cat has trouble breathing, he may not be able to get enough oxygen to his tissues. Additionally, if he has heart failure, he may not be able to pump sufficient blood to his muscles and other tissues. Dyspnea is often associated with accumulation of fluid (edema) in the lungs or the chest cavity (pleural effusion). This fluid can lead to shortness of breath, open mouth breathing and/or coughing. This is a very serious symptom and should be evaluated immediately. Click here to learn more about cats having trouble breathing.
5. Jaundice. Jaundice, also referred to as icterus, describes the yellow color taken on by the tissues throughout the body due to elevated levels of bilirubin, a substance that comes from the breakdown of red blood cells. There are several causes for jaundice and regardless of the cause, jaundice is considered abnormal and serious in the cat. Click here to learn more about jaundice in cats.
6. Urinating and Drinking Excessively. These signs are often early signs of disease including kidney failure, diabetes mellitus, thyroid gland problems, uterine infection (called pyometra), as well as other causes. Cats normally take in about 20 to 40 milliliters per pound of body weight per day, or one cup for a normal sized cat. Some cats will drink less if they eat canned food which has more water content than dry food. If you determine that your cat is drinking excessively, make an appointment with your veterinarian. Click here to learn more about excessive drinking and urinating in cats.
7. Lethargy or Weakness. Lethargy is a state of drowsiness, inactivity, or indifference in which there are delayed responses to external stimuli such as auditory (sound), visual (sight), or tactile (touch) stimuli. Lethargy is a nonspecific sign associated with many possible underlying systemic disorders. It may have little to no impact on the affected individual; however its presence may represent severe or life-threatening illness. Lethargy of more than a day’s duration should not be ignored, and should be addressed, especially if it persists. Click here to learn more about lethargy in cats.
8. Pale Gums. Pale gums or mucous membranes can indicate blood loss or “shock”. The possible causes for either blood loss or shock are life-threatening and thus should be evaluated immediately. Click here to learn more about anemia in cats.
9. Fever. A fever is defined as an abnormally high body temperature resulting from internal controls. It is believed that fever is a method of fighting infection. The body resets the temperature control area of the brain to increase the body temperature – probably in response to invasion of foreign matter such as bacteria or viruses. The normal temperature in cats is 100.5 to 102.5 degrees Fahrenheit. If your cat temperature is high, call your veterinarian. Click here to learn more about fever symptoms in cats.
10. Seizure. A seizure or convulsion is a sudden excessive firing of nerves in the brain. The severity of the seizure can vary between a far-away look or twitching in one part of the face to your cat falling on his side, gnashing his teeth, urinating, defecating and paddling his limbs. A seizure can last from seconds to minutes. Seizures are symptoms of some neurological disorder – they are not in themselves a disease. They can be caused by several disorders including metabolic diseases, toxins or tumors. Click here to learn more about seizure disorders in cats.
11. Red Eye. A “red eye” is a non-specific sign of inflammation or infection. It may be seen with several different diseases including those involving different parts of the eye including the external eyelids, third eyelid, conjunctiva, cornea, and sclera. It may also occur with inflammation of the structures inside the eye, with glaucoma (high pressure within the eye) or with certain diseases of the orbit (eye socket). Either one or both eyes can become red, depending upon the cause of the problem. Some of the possible causes can be serious and ultimately cause blindness. Click here to learn more about red eye in cats.
12. Coughing. Coughing is a relatively uncommon problem in cats. Coughing is a common protective reflex that clears secretions or foreign matter from the throat, voice box, and/or airways, and protects the lungs against aspiration. It affects the respiratory system by hindering the ability to breathe properly. Common causes include obstruction in the windpipe, bronchitis, pneumonia, heartworm disease, lung tumors, and heart failure. Some of the causes are life threatening and all cats with a cough should be evaluated by a veterinarian Click here to learn more about chronic coughing in cats.
13. Bloody Diarrhea. Blood in the feces can either appear as “melena” which makes the stools appear black and tarry is the presence suggests digested blood in the feces. Melena is different from fresh blood in the stool (hematochezia). Bleeding into the colon or rectum appears as fresh blood in the stool. Bloody diarrhea should be evaluated by your veterinarian as soon as possible Click here to learn more about bloody stools in cats.
14. Bloody Urine. Hematuria is the presence of red blood cells in the urine. It may be gross (visible to the naked eye) or microscopic. There are several possible causes including bacterial infections, cancer, stones in the urinary tract. Click here to learn more about bloody urine in cats.
15. Bite Wounds. Bite wounds are often the result when two animals engage in a fight or aggressive play. Bite wounds, which may only appear as a small puncture wound in the skin, can actually be quite extensive. Once the tooth penetrates the skin, severe damage can occur to the underlying tissues without major skin damage. Some wounds may appear deceptively minor but may have the potential to be life threatening, depending on the area of the body bitten. All bite wounds should receive veterinary attention. Click here to learn more about bite wounds in cats.
16. Bloody Vomit. Vomiting blood can fresh blood, which is bright red or partially digested blood, which has the appearance of brown coffee grounds. There are a variety of causes of vomiting blood and the effects on the animal are also variable. Some are subtle and minor ailments, while others are severe or life threatening. Click here to learn more about vomiting blood in cats.