IMPORTANT Signs of a Healthy Cat

It is often difficult to know when a cat is not feeling happy or healthy. Some cats are able to tell us with their behavior, such as hiding in a dark place and refusing food. Others will show signs through body language that something may be wrong. It also can be difficult for most cat owners to know what the warning signs are and how best to care for a sick animal. This blog post aims at providing some tips on how you can tell if your cat is healthy or not, with an emphasis on cats as this article’s example species.

Below are the 9 most important health indicators to look out for:

Eating

If your cat is not eating, it is because he or she is not feeling well. There can be a number of reasons for this to happen. A cat that refuses food might have a sore mouth from dental problems or maybe they are in pain and cannot concentrate on eating. It may also be as simple as not liking the food you offer them or getting bored with their daily diet.

The most common reason why cats stop eating is because they are ill. If your cat starts to show any of the following signs, check if he or she is eating or not:

  • Feeling irritable
  • Lethargy or lack of energy
  • Constantly changing positions (e.g. lying down, sitting up, standing) without actually moving around much
  • Runny nose or nasal congestion (pus or mucus in the nasal cavity)

If your feline is not eating and showing any signs of illness then you will need to get him treated by a veterinarian immediately. Failure to do so may lead to more serious problems like kidney failure and heart disease. The veterinarian will be able to give you advice on what food to offer and how much your cat needs to eat per day.

Drinking

If your cat is not drinking, he or she may be ill or suffering from dental problems that are affecting their ability to drink water. Cats can develop feline odontoclastic resorptive lesions (FORLs), which is caused by specific bacteria in their mouths and leads to the loss of bone tissue around their teeth. This condition can cause a cat to stop drinking water. Food particles stuck between the teeth also affect how a cat drinks and may cause them to ignore their water bowl altogether.

There are various reasons why a cat could not be drinking water including:

  • Cataracts (malfunctioning of the lens in the eye and causing the cat to lose vision)
  • Dental disease (resolving of FORLs)
  • Kidney disease
  • Liver disease
  • Lung disorder
  • Pregnancy (not enough milk for the kittens)

If your cat is not drinking, you need to take them to a veterinarian as soon as possible. The vet can advise you on what food to feed and how much your pet needs per day.

Elimination

Your cat’s toilet habits are an excellent indicator of their health. A number of diseases and conditions can affect a cat’s ability to defecate or urinate, so you need to pay close attention to the following signs:

Elimination problems (difficulty passing faeces or diarrhoea)  – The most common cause is a bowel obstruction from either a foreign body, such as hair and string, or something lodged in the colon itself, like pus from an infection. Diarrhoea is typically due to a bacterial infection in the intestinal tract. It can also be caused by gastroenteritis.

Drinking less water – in most cases, this is a sign of dehydration and can be due to an underlying disease process or a side-effect of medications.

To determine if your cat is dehydrated, you will need to visit your veterinarian for further tests such as blood screening. The vet will also be able to advise you on treatments to resolve the problems your pet is having.

Grooming

When it comes to self grooming, cats are good at it but not perfect! Cats have specific body parts that they normally clean (e.g., the claws) and if they are failing to do so then there may be an underlying reason for it. The following signs are commonly to see:

  • Licking or scratching an area of their fur that they do not normally lather (a type of self-grooming)
  • Pawing at their face and/or ears              
  • Unusually dry hair on the tail and around the anus
  • Head shaking, looking in another direction or rubbing their head against a wall.

You should ask yourself why your cat is doing this, try to find out what triggers this behaviour and then act on it. It may be as simple as simply increasing the amount of time they spend outside (to help encourage them to groom themselves) and changing their diet. A good diet will help stimulate normal grooming behaviour.

Exercise

Cats love to exercise (it is in their nature) and some will do it more than others. Normal playtime activities like chasing a ball, stalking prey (small furry toys) and climbing furniture are what they love most. If your cat is not exhibiting these characteristics, then it is likely that there is an underlying reason for it.

Sleep cycle and patterns of activity and rest

If your cat is restless or spends more time than usual awake during the night time, then he may be suffering from a sleep disorder. This could be due to an underlying disease (e.g., diabetes) or a side effect of medications (e.g., anti-convulsant).

Eye health

If there is any change in the frequency or vigour of your cat’s blinking, it could be a sign that there is an underlying problem. It could be due to a medical condition, but usually it will be the result of an eye disease, such as glaucoma or age-related macular degeneration.

Pupils 

A felines pupils will dilate if they are healthy, as opposed to constricting when the animal is stressed or sick

Breathing

Many medical conditions will affect the way your cat breathes and they may breathe at an abnormal rate. If your cat’s breathing patterns are irregular, then it is likely that he is experiencing some form of distress. The rate of breathing will also be dependent on whether the patient has suffered trauma to the chest (e.g., asthma outbursts).

Just to clarify a lot of of things in a list in covered by pets insurance

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