It is important to know if your cat is sick. Unfortunately, knowing if something is wrong with your cat is not always that simple; cats are known to be experts at hiding any illness that they may have. Because cats have evolved to hide signs of pain and illness, it is recommended by veterinary experts to have twice yearly examinations for the average adult cat. Keep reading to learn more about common causes of illnesses in cats and various symptoms of a sick cat to keep an eye on.

Common Causes of Illnesses in Cats & Their Symptoms

Below is a list of common cat illnesses and the symptoms associated with them:

Upper Respiratory Infection

Fever, Sneezing, Coughing, Gagging, Decreased appetite, Congestion, Drooling, and Runny nose / nasal discharge


Increased Urination, Thirst, Vomiting, Increased or loss of appetite, Dehydration, Death, Coma, and Motor Function Problems


Sores that do not heal, Unexplained bleeding, Bad breath, Chronic weight loss, Difficulty urinating and/or defecating, Unexplained discharge, Increase or decrease in appetite, and Lumps that change in size or shape

Kidney Disease

Weight loss, Frequent Urination, Excess thirst, Dry Coat, Vomiting, Diarrhea, and Bloody or cloudy urine

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Loss of appetite, Gingivitis, Poor coat condition, Fever, and Chronic or recurring infection


Joint problems, Diabetes, Cancer, and Heart disease


Increased appetite, Excessive energy, Weight loss, and Restlessness

Feline Leukemia Virus

Seizures or neurological disorders, Eye Conditions, Persistent diarrhea, Persistent fever, Weight loss, Loss of appetite, and Skin, urinary, or respiratory infections

Intestinal Worms

Weight loss, Pronounced pot-bellied appearance, Vomiting, Diarrhea, Dehydrating, and Possible effects on their appetite 


Symptoms of a Sick Cat

Because cats have adapted over the years to hide any pain or illness that they may have, it can sometimes take a while to notice that something is wrong with your cat. Make sure to pay attention to any changes in their behavior. If something seems off, you can always contact your vet for advice. Here is a list of symptoms to watch for in your cat: 

  • Loss of appetite: While this can be normal, it should not be ignored. Lack of eating can lead to a more serious problem known as fatty liver or hepatic lipidosis. 
  • Increased appetite: If this occurs suddenly in an older cat, it is worth noting. One common explanation for overeating may be hyperthyroidism, although your vet will have to run some tests to verify. 
  • Vomiting: If your cat is vomiting more than occasionally, it is recommended that you take your cat to see the vet. 
  • Diarrhea: This can be indicative of intestinal parasites and dietary indiscretion, among other problems. It can also lead to further intestinal inflammation and dehydration. 

Other symptoms to look for include:

  • Bad breath
  • Swelling in any area of the body
  • Limping and trouble jumping
  • Personality changes
  • Overgrooming
  • Increased vocalization
  • Skin irritation or hair loss
  • Ear debris or discharge
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Changes in breathing (wheezing, raspiness, rapid breathing, etc.)
  • Changes in urination 
  • Increased thirst 
  • Lethargy
  • Weight Changes

Emergency Situations for a Cat

In some situations, seeking medical care for your cat may be considered urgent. If you see any signs of an emergency, do not wait for any reason. Find your nearest veterinarian immediately if you notice any of the following symptoms: 

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Trauma, such as being hit by a car or falling from a height
  • Seizure
  • Gums that are white, blue, or very pale
  • Dizziness, imbalance, or circling
  • Collapse, unresponsiveness, or unconsciousness
  • Inability to walk
  • Straining to urinate without actually producing urine
  • Moderate to profuse bleeding
  • Exposure to a poisonous substance
  • Severe Pain
  • Body temperature over 104 degrees or under 99 degrees Fahrenheit
  • Has not eaten properly in 24 hours

What You Can Do if Your Cat is Sick

As a pet parent, you know your animal better than anyone else. If you notice any difference in your pet’s behavior or appearance or you just feel as though something isn’t quite right, schedule an appointment with your veterinarian today! Prompt medical attention can improve the outcome of many illnesses, not to mention help your cat feel better as quickly as possible. Our team of veterinary professionals at Bowman Road Animal Clinic is here to provide diagnosis and treatment if your cat is exhibiting any unusual behaviors. Contact our office today at 501-223-3737!