7 Common Signs of Illness in Cats


We all love our pet cats and want them to be as healthy and happy as possible, but they do not always make being a cat-parent easy. Cats are notorious for hiding illness or possibly taking themselves to a quiet hiding place where we cannot find them. Unfortunately, this can mean that we do not notice they are suffering until their illness has advanced to the point where they can no longer hide it. However, if we are able to get cats the treatment they need in the early stages, most cats will make a full recovery. Here are seven common signs to look out for which might mean that your cat is unwell:

  1. Changes in their behavior

When a cat is unwell, they tend to sit in a hunched position in a dark and quiet place. They often stop grooming themselves, or if they are in pain, they might avoid sitting or sleeping in certain positions that they used to find comfortable. If a cat presses its head into a wall or piece of furniture for a long period of time, has seizures, or appears confused, it may have developed neurological issues. Cats can also purr when they are stressed or in pain as it is a way of soothing themselves.

  1. Eating or drinking less or more

You know your cat better than anyone and will know what is ‘normal’ for them in terms of appetite. If a usually fussy cat is suddenly devouring everything they can get hold of, or a healthy eater is off their food, it is a good sign that something is wrong. By monitoring both their intake of food and drink and their litter box, you can get a sense of their health. If cats are not able to urinate, they are in pain while urinating, or have to urinate suddenly and in small amounts, call your vet.

  1. Regular vomiting

When a cat vomits their food quickly after they have eaten, they may have eaten too quickly, or they could have an issue in their digestive system. If it only happens once or twice, there is probably nothing to worry about, but repeated vomiting over more than a few hours should be looked at by a vet. You can visit exceptionalpets.com for advice if you are concerned about any aspect of your cat’s health.

  1. Constipation or diarrhea

Occasional constipation or diarrhea is not usually anything to worry about, but in some cases, it can be a sign of infection, poisoning, parasites, or illness. If your cat is struggling to defecate and appears to be in pain, or their stool is particularly watery or contains blood, contact a veterinarian.

  1. Coughing or wheezing

Sometimes cats will develop hairballs in their throat, but they usually manage to sort them out on their own. However, persistent coughing or wheezing could indicate more serious blockages, allergies, lung disease, tumors, or other serious conditions. When a cat is coughing for more than 24 hours, contact a vet. This is particularly urgent if you believe your cat is struggling to breathe or has blue gums.

  1. Low or high temperature

Your cat’s temperature should be between 100-103 degrees, and readings above or below this range could be a sign of illness. To take their temperature, you could insert a rectal thermometer that has been lubricated into their rectum and leave it there for up to a minute. If you do not have a rectal thermometer, click here. If you are concerned about your cat’s temperature, call your veterinarian.

  1. Discolored gums

A cat’s gums should be dark pink in color. When you press the gum with your finger, it will turn white but turn back to pink quickly after you stop pressing. If the gums take a long time to return to pink, or they are very pale regardless of pressure, it could be a sign of several illnesses. If the gums and/or tongue are blue, yellow, or red in places, you should take the cat to the vet urgently.