Cat owners should remember that our little feline friends are VERY skilled at hiding their illnesses. Without regular veterinary visits, a disease or condition could go unnoticed for months or years, until severe symptoms finally force a visit to the pet’s doctor.
Monitor your cat’s social behavior. An independent cat that suddenly becomes clingy may be feeling unwell. Likewise, a normally social cat that becomes withdrawn may also be exhibiting early signs of illness.
If your active cat is starting to slow down or doesn’t seem to have the same energy level, arthritis, dental disease, kidney disease or several other conditions could be the culprit.
Changes in water intake or eating habits are also often early signs of illness. It’s a good idea to know how much your cat eats and drinks each day and to also monitor their eating. Is your cat chewing on just one side or dropping food while eating? If your cat has bad breath, metabolic diseases or even serious dental disease could be the problem.
Changes in weight can occur without any significant change in food intake. Unexplained weight loss or weight gain should be investigated.
A cat that doesn’t want to groom is definitely not feeling well. This could be due to arthritis, obesity or even dental problems.
Changes in sleeping habits or even vocalization habits are also good signs that your cat may be experiencing some unseen problems. Cats often sleep about 75 percent of the day, so a sudden decrease in the time spent sleeping is very concerning.
Finally, like many people, cats prefer a stable routine and a calm environment. Situations that can cause stress for our cats include new people in the home, changes in routine or even an unforeseen move.
If you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or signs similar to the ones listed above, it’s a good idea to see your veterinarian as soon as possible. Our cats can’t talk to us and let us know what’s going on, but his or her doctor can help get to the bottom of their distress.
Ideally, the veterinarian should see cats every six months. This will help find and identify a problem before it turns into an expensive issue.
Dr. Elizabeth Bradt is a 1986 graduate of Tufts University’s Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine and is the owner of All Creatures Veterinary Hospital in Salem. Email your pet questions to email@example.com. Please title your email “Vet Connection.”