Cats are amazing at masking their illness or pain. What we call ‘stoic’ comes naturally to them as a potentially lifesaving behavior. In the wild, animals have to mask their illnesses in order to avoid predators singling them out. Our domestic cats give subtle hints to alert us of their issues, unfortunately sometimes even the most attentive owner can miss them.
A change of appetite, either eating too little or too much can indicate disease in your cat. We would begin with a thorough examination and history. Diagnostics including blood work, x-rays or ultrasound may be suggested based on the findings in the history and exam.
Halitosis or smelly breath, is not only a sign of dental disease. While dental disease itself can cause serious problems with internal organs, bad breath can also accompany kidney disease. After examining your cat and obtaining a history from you we would likely suggest diagnostics, followed by a dental prophylaxis (cleaning) or treatment.
Inappropriate elimination (urinating or defecating outside the litter box) can be a way for your cat to alert you to a bladder issue, urinary tract infection or constipation and potentially arthritis or joint pain. It can also be behavioral so an exam and urinalysis are important first steps to rule out any serious issues!
Weight changes, either weight gain or weight loss can indicate thyroid or other endocrine diseases, cancer or diabetes. Obesity itself can lead to issues such as arthritis, heart disease and inability to groom. Following a nose to tail examination, a blood panel may be recommended to get a better idea of what’s happening internally.
Hiding, vocalizing or other behavior changes can be your cat’s way of avoiding predators when he or she is unwell. A prescription or special diagnostics may be recommended (depending on the cause) based on exam findings.
Lack of or excessive grooming can indicate skin issues, arthritis, endocrine imbalances, parasites or anxiety/stress. Therapy may include medications, diet changes and a change in environmental stimulation.
Changes in activity level or sleeping patterns can indicate arthritis, hormone imbalances or diabetes, or simply an aging cat. We would start with an exam and obtaining a history and potentially recommend supplements, a prescription or diagnostics.
Being an advocate for your cat is tough work when they are so good at masking how they truly feel! Keep these symptoms or signs in mind and let us know if your cat is “not himself”.
Written by: Quinn Facco, ACA