19 Signs Your Cat Needs Vet Care

Redbarn February 06, 2014

Common and Uncommon Signs Your Cat Needs to Visit the Veterinarian

As much as your cat needs lots of TLC, a trip to the vet can be a challenge and an unwelcome event for your pet.  Although some cats are comfortable in a travel crate, most felines connect the crate with a trip to the veterinarian. Frequently, the only time a cat enters a car is to visit that friendly but stressful medical office.

When you first adopted your cat, you learned that it was necessary to visit the vet on an annual basis for an examination and regular vaccination regiments.  Aside from those maintenance visits, there may be other considerations for a doctor visit.  Some signs and symptoms can indicate common conditions while others do not. Knowing what to look for is the key to good health.  Below are some of the signs to be aware of:

  1. Difficulty breathing – Your cat is breathing with an open mouth, wheezing, or experiencing labored breathing.  This could be the result of a heart problem, extreme stress, an asthma attack, or a serious allergic reaction, also known as anaphylactic shock.
  2. Panting
  3. An elevated respiratory rate, like 50 beats per minute or more
  4. Excessive drooling
  5. Inability to move
  6. Straining when urinating.  Your cat might be frequenting the litter box more than usual because of a problem with urination.  There may be signs that your cat is in pain, like whining and crying.  You might see your cat licking the genital area after trying to relieve itself.  In some instances, the cat may be urinating on the side of the box or other areas of the home; frequently a sign of an infection, a blockage or other medical issue.
  7. Profuse vomiting, especially if blood is present. This can indicate your cat may have swallowed something foreign or is suffering from an intestinal problem, poisoning, liver or kidney disease.
  8. Sitting over the water bowl without moving, since cats rarely hang by the water bowl.
  9. Twitching or a sign of a seizure – You may witness your cat twitching, having spasms or convulsions, and being disoriented.  This can be a sign of poisoning, toxicity, trauma or other medical issue.
  10. If you note a string hanging out of an orifice (be sure not to pull on it).
  11. Abdominal pains – take note if your cat is crouched over in an uncomfortable position or appears to be pawing at its stomach in discomfort. On the other hand, your cat may not want her tummy touched. This could indicate a urinary tract infection, blockage of the digestive tract, internal bleeding, or organ disease.
  12. Unusual bleeding – if your kitty appears to be bleeding from the ears or eyes, or secreting puss profusely out of any other area, bandage it as well as you can and get to your vet immediately.
  13. Bumping into things – When your cat begins to bump into things suddenly or is afraid to walk it’s probably because of a lack of sight.  It may be due to glaucoma or a detached retina.
  14. Unable to put weight on a particular limb, or favoring it which could indicate an infection, fracture, heart problems or a deep penetrating wound.
  15. Staggering may be a sign of a middle-ear infection, poisoning, or neurological disorder.
  16. A runny nose with frequent sneezing and coughing could implicate a possible cold or something more serious. If the runny nose symptom exceeds 10 days, medical attention may be necessary. Otherwise, you can use a warm, damp cloth to gently clear the mucous from the eyes and nose.
  17. If you notice your cat would rather sleep than eat, play or potty as usual, this may be cause for alarm. Although cats can sleep about 16 hours a day, if all she wants to do is sleep, you need to contact your vet.
  18. A cat that won’t eat for more than two days may be showing signs of a metabolic or fatty liver disease. If a cat does not eat, the body goes to the fat supply for energy.  As a result, the liver tries to metabolize the fat, causing a lack of proper function. Contact your vet if your cat is extremely fatigued after not eating for a couple of days.
  19. Cats are extreme self-groomers, so problems with hairballs or, worse yet, bald spots and hair loss are more common than you would think.  However, if the hair loss is in patches, scaly and circular or with signs of flakes, irritation and redness, there could be issues with ringworm or other fungal skin infections contagious between animals and humans. There may also be a parasitic problem or an allergic reaction to something. Some hair loss problems can be internal, caused by thyroid problems or Cushing’s disease. Because of their grooming habits, your cat can also intake too much fur, causing an obstruction, which can be fatal if not attended to.

This may not be an all-inclusive list of ailments to be aware of, but determining if your cat needs veterinary care usually involves being an attentive feline owner.  You know your cat’s regular routines and anything out of the ordinary may need medical attention.  Some cats are very vocal and talkative while others are quite withdrawn, so knowing your cat is imperative for its health. Some symptoms may be an obvious sign that there is a problem, while other times you will have to be a little more observant. The bottom line is, if your cat is not acting normal as usual, call your veterinarian and convey to him or her all the notable signs you witnessed.  It is always better to be safe than sorry.

All data and information provided on this site is for informational purposes only and reflect the views of the authors alone, and do not necessarily reflect those of the organization. Redbarn.com makes no representations as to accuracy, completeness, timeliness, suitability, or validity of any information on this site and will not be liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Please note that each situation is different, and you should always consult your veterinarian should you have any questions about your pet’s health.