Signs of Illness in Cats


Cats are masters at hiding signs of illness, which is why regular veterinary exams are so important. All cats should get annual exams, and cats seven or older should be seen by a veterinarian twice a year. However, the most important person in keeping your cats healthy is you! You know your cat better than anyone, and it’s up to you to watch for any changes in your cat’s normal routine, behavior and attiude. They could be the first indicator that something is wrong.

Many pet guardians don’t realize that problems often develop slowly and cats especially don’t show symptoms until a disease is already advanced. If you can detect things early, you have a much better chance of addressing a problem successfully, and you’ll also save yourself money by avoiding costly veterinary fees for treating an advanced illness.

Look for Subtle Signs of Illness

Most signs start with a subtle change in your cat’s behavior, routine or attitude. Watch for

  • Decreased energy or activity level
  • Changes in appetite or water intake
  • Changes in behavior: hiding, refusing to play, becoming aggressive
  • Vomiting, diarrhea, or straining to urinate and defecate
  • Inappropriate elimination
  • Poor coat quality, patchy hair loss, or excessive scratching
  • Weight loss or weight gain
  • Foul odor coming from the mouth, ears or skin
  • Abnormal vocalizations

Is Your Cat ADR?

Don’t dismiss even subtle changes in your cat’s normal pattern – they could be an indicator of a bigger problem. In veterinary medicine, there’s actually a “technical term” for this: ADR, which stands for “Ain’t Doing Right,” and yes, you will actually see this notated in veterinary medical records. If your cat seems ADR to you, don’t put off taking her to your vet for a complete exam.


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