Cats are normally very healthy, but even so it is important to be alert to the possibility that your pet could be falling ill. The signs of this will be in his behaviour. By responding rapidly when you think your cat is acting abnormally, you will lessen its discomfort and may also significantly increase the chances of a successful recovery. Write down the points that are concerning you when you contact your vet, so that nothing is overlooked.
When cats are feeling even a little off-colour, they sensibly obey their natural instincts and try to sleep it off. Provide a warm, comfortable spot where they can totally relax and regain their strength.
What is a cat’s normal temperature?
It should be about 38.6°C (101.5°F) – a bit higher than our own.
What are the indications that my cat needs immediate veterinary help?
If it collapses, cannot walk properly, starts to have difficulty in breathing, begins to choke or has difficulty in urinating. Many emergencies are caused by injury or poisoning.
Is soiling around the home a sign of illness?
This can be true in some cases, but cats are such fastidious creatures when a litter tray is nearby, that they have to be seriously ill before they will soil in this way. Soiling is more likely to be the result of a new cat in the home when the established pet reinforces its territorial claim by scent marking.
It is particularly important to watch your cat’s appetite, as loss of interest in food is often a common warning sign of a health problem. The cause could be relatively minor, such as a painful tooth, or it could be indicative of a much more serious disorder.
Watching your cat’s general behaviour will provide further important clues to its state of health. Your pet may be sleeping more than usual, even bearing in mind that cats normally sleep for long periods each day. It may also be less active, staying indoors rather than showing an interest in going out. If your cat is normally very lively, you may see an obvious change in his activities.
Always pay attention to your pet’s toilet habits because, here again, health problems may be clearly indicated. Check whether your cat’s motions are different to normal, and pass this information on to your vet if necessary.
Male cats in particular should be watched when urinating because on occasions deposits which form in the urinary tract can cause intense pain, and may even cause a blockage. Cats suffering from this condition — which is often described as FUS — will adopt a hunched posture when urinating, and may even cry out with pain. This is one of the relatively few conditions which requires immediate veterinary attention. All veterinary surgeons provide 24 hour emergency cover, so you can seek help if it is needed under these or any other equally pressing circumstances.
Regular grooming provides a good insight into your cat’s health. It will reveal fleas and ticks and show up any swelling on your cat’s body that could otherwise be disguised by its fur.
The appearance of the so-called third eyelids’, or haws, at the inner corners of the eyes indicate illness. These membranes are usually hidden, but as the cat loses condition, and the fatty pad on which the eyeball rests is broken down, they become increasingly obvious. They are commonly associated with cat flu.
With urban cats living at higher densities than ever before, and the increased risk of illnesses spreading, vaccinations are vital.