Cats are masters at hiding illnesses, so it’s not always easy to know when something is wrong. To make matters more complicated, sometimes the signs are so subtle that they may be easy to miss or disregard. Here are 6 subtle signs to look out for and take seriously. Your cat’s health and life may depend on it.
#1 – Dull coat
A healthy coat on a cat will be smooth and shiny. Dull coats often indicate poor nutrition or an inability to absorb proper nutrients from food. Make sure you’re feeding your cat a high quality food that’s nutritionally complete. If your cat is already eating a well balanced diet but has a dull coat, make an appointment with your veterinarian to check for underlying health problems.
#2 – Watery eyes
A bit of wetness in your cat’s eye is healthy and normal. Just like in your own eyes, that layer helps to keep dirt, debris, and bacteria out of her eyes. If you’re noticing excessive wateriness, however, it can be a sign that her eyes are trying to fight off an irritant, allergy, or illness. Her eyes may clear up once the irritant is gone. While watery eyes aren’t themselves necessarily a sign for alarm, they can lead to larger health issues if the problem doesn’t correct itself. Pay close attention to her eyes and make an appointment with your veterinarian if you notice any inflammation or redness, or if the discharge becomes yellow or sticky.
#3 – Bad breath
Your cat’s breath shouldn’t smell good, but a very strong odor is a sign that something’s not right. The culprit of bad breath is often dental or gum disease, which can cause a buildup of bacteria in a cat’s mouth. Bad breath can also indicate another problem in her mouth, liver, kidneys, respiratory system, or gastrointestinal tract.
#4 – Vocal changes
Many people ignore vocal changes because it’s hard to believe that something so basic could indicate a health problem. It’s important to remember that you know your cat better than anyone and that you should trust your instincts if something has changed in your cat’s behavior. If your cat has suddenly become uncharacteristically quiet, chatty, or if the pitch of her voice sounds different, it can be a sign that she isn’t feeling well.
#5 – Litter box problems
Litter box problems are complicated because they can happen for many reasons. While litter box avoidance is often a behavior problem, it can indicate a medical problem as well. Cats will often avoid using the litter box if they have experienced pain while in it because they will associate the pain with the box. If your cat is urinating outside of the box it could be a sign that she has a urinary tract infection or another problem that’s causing her pain.
#6 – Excessive shedding
All cats shed, but excessive shedding is a red flag. Cats can shed excessive amounts of fur for many reasons, including (but not limited to) poor diet, stress, allergies, parasites, and hyperthyroidism.
Make an appointment with your veterinarian right away if you notice any of these subtle signs. Catching and addressing problems quickly will help keep your cat as healthy and happy as she can be.