Symptoms of Cat Illness

Taken from: Cat Illness Symptoms
By Kelly Roper

A cat’s illness symptoms can be so varied and overlap so much that it’s extremely difficult to figure out what is going on. You know there’s something wrong with your pet, but what should you do about it? If only there was some kind of reference guideline that offered some clues.

The following list offers some of the most common illnesses/disorders that cats face. They’re compiled in a handy reference table you can use to make a first-hand assessment of your cat’s condition. Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be better prepared to relate your cat’s symptoms to your vet.

Be advised that this is not a complete listing of every possible cat illness or symptom.

Cats Illness Symptoms
Illness General Symptoms
Ear Infections
  • Foul odor
  • Inflammation
  • Itching/scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Head rubbing
  • Swollen ear flap
Ear Mites
  • Inflammation
  • Itching/scratching
  • Head shaking/rubbing
  • Excess ear wax
  • Coffee ground-like, tarry discharge
Fatty Liver Disease
  • Refusal to eat
  • Excess saliva
  • Vomiting
  • Yellowing of the skin and whites of the eyes
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Reduced muscle mass
  • Seizures
Feline Diabetes
  • Excessive thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Overall run-down condition
  • Rear leg weakness
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
  • Lethargy
  • Appetite loss
  • Weight loss
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Eye problems
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Gray gums
  • Yellowing of tissues and eyes
  • Bloated belly
  • Seizures
  • Paralysis
Feline Leukemia
  • Low iron
  • Lethargy
  • Eye problems
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Weight loss
  • Coughing
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Opportunistic infections
  • Prolonged sores/wounds
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Refusal to eat
  • Lethargy/depression
  • Weight loss
  • Frequent infections
Gum Disease
  • Foul breath
  • Reduced appetite
  • Difficulty chewing
  • Bleeding gums
  • Receding gums
  • Tooth loosening or loss
  • Mouth ulcers
  • Face rubbing
Hairballs
  • Retching cough
  • Vomiting wads of fur and food
  • Intestinal blockage/constipation
Hyperthyroidism
  • Increased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Irritability
Feline Kidney Disease
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Foul breath
  • Loss of appetite
  • General weakness
  • Increased urination
  • Urination in odd/inappropriate places
Kidney Stones
  • Blood in the urine
  • Frequent urination in small amounts
  • Urination in odd/inappropriate places
  • Tenderness in belly or along back
  • Difficulty walking
Lymphoma/Cancer
  • Skin irritation/ulcers
  • Reduced appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Excessive thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Lumps/tumors
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
Ringworm
  • Itching/scratching
  • Scaly skin
  • Dandruff
  • Chin acne
  • Circular patches of hair loss
Skin/Food Allergies
  • Itching/scratching
  • Head shaking
  • Red, sometimes puss-filled bumps
  • Scaly skin
  • Darkened skin
  • Hair loss
  • Compulsive licking
  • Chewing/self-mutilation
  • Red stained fur
Urinary Tract Infection
  • Blood in the urine
  • Difficult/painful urination
  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Compulsive licking of genitals
  • Urinating in odd/inappropriate locations
Respiratory Tract Infection/Flu
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever
  • Runny eyes
  • Sneezing
  • Nasal mucous discharge
  • Poor appetite
  • Excessive saliva

When You Should Consult a Vet

Although every feline illness isn’t life threatening, there are definitely times when a vet’s expertise is required. How can you tell the difference?

  • Your cat is unresponsive.
  • The illness lasts more than 24-36 hours.
  • Symptoms dramatically increase or multiply.
  • Your cat is in obvious pain.
  • Your cat is struggling to breathe.
  • Your cat is bleeding profusely.
  • Your cat is unable to have bowel movements or urinate.
  • Your cat refuses to eat for more than 48 hours.
  • Your cat stops drinking.

Generally speaking, use your own common sense and intimate knowledge of your cat’s normal behavior to guide you. If your intuition is telling you it’s time to head to the clinic, do so without hesitation.

Final Caution

Keep in mind that this table is only a reference, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional veterinary care, especially in emergency situations. Only a certified veterinarian is qualified to render a diagnosis for a sick cat, so never hesitate to take your pet to the vet when treatment is needed. You can do more damage by either waiting or trying to treat an illness by yourself.