Cat behavioral changes & health problems

Because of cats' stoic nature, it can be extremely difficult to tell when they are sick. Instinctively, felines tend to hide illness as a form of protection against predators that, in the natural world, prey on the seemingly sick or weak. The best way to tell if your pet is sick, therefore, is to look out for behavioral changes. These are tell-tale signs that your feline could have health issues. Below are some of the behavior changes to look for to determine if your cat could be sick.

Bodily fluids

Bodily fluids are a rather obvious indication of a health problem with your cat. Changes in the litter box such as change in the consistency of the cat’s bowel movements and more urine than usual are all obvious signs of a health problem. Another good sign to look out for is abnormal discharge such as gunk in the ears, runny nose, excessive salivating, odd odors and blood in the urine. These are all signs of a health issue. Immediately visit the vet in case of any of these problems.

Change in grooming habits

Felines in general are meticulous groomers, and any change in your pet’s grooming habits is something to be taken seriously. Cats that neglect grooming altogether may have a health problem and it is a good idea to immediately contact your vet to schedule a visit. You may not notice immediately, but the cat’s fur will become greasy, dull and dirty if the cat is not grooming regularly. It is also important to note that over-grooming is also an indication of a problem, usually stress, pain or allergies.

Problems with the litter box

Although some cats are simply picky about the texture or cleanliness of the litter box, this is still a problem worth investigating. This is especially so if a normally "disciplined" cat suddenly won’t use the litter box. This problem is most common in cats with kidney stones or urinary tract infection as they tend to associate the litter box with pain. If you notice a dramatic change in your cat’s litter box habit, it is best to visit a vet.

Changes in sleeping habits

If your pet seems to be sleeping more or less, it could point to a health problem. This is a symptom common with aging, in which case would not be a cause for alarm. If the cat’s sleeping patterns dramatically change, it could point to illness and/or pain, and will require a visit to the vet.

Changes in eating habits

This is an easy one to detect, and almost always points to a health issue with the pet. Most cats are not picky eaters, as it is often believed, and any change in the cat’s eating habits should be a cause for concern. For example, an increase in your cat’s food intake could mean hyperthyroidism or diabetes, while eating less may mean dental problems or other disorders.

Recognize a potential emergency situation

Although most of these changes in cat behavior are subtle and often difficult to detect, some are more profound and require immediate medical attention. In such cases, even a few hours can mean the difference between life and death. Therefore, it is important to be able to recognize an emergency situation such as:

Straining to urinate, difficulty breathing, protracted vomiting, seizures and haemorrhage are all symptoms that point to a potentially life threatening ailment. More subtle signs such as low or high body temperature, pale gums, and jaundice (yellowing of the eyes, gums or skin) are all possible symptoms of anaemia or shock and require immediate attention.

It is often said that prevention is better than cure. And like all clichés, this one holds true. It is important to visit your veterinarian at least twice a year for wellness checkups. Some of these behavioral changes can be difficult to detect until it is too late, so trust your instincts. Pet owners have an affinity for telling when something is wrong with their pets and should visit the vet immediately if they suspect something is wrong.

Patrick Gibson Cat Care health signs in catsPatrick Gibson is a Microbiologist who studied at Victoria University in Melbourne, Australia. He currently resides in Southwestern Australia where he's exploring the great outdoors with his family and Golden Retriever “Astor”.