Should Your Cat See the Vet? Seven Body Language Signs to Look For

warning signs

There will always be tell-tale warning signs your cat should see the vet immediately. These could be vomiting, change in appetite, or sudden lethargy. Other symptoms can develop over time, but these less significant warning signs still might be indicators for serious conditions. It is instinctive for animals to hide ailments, so don’t expect them to tell you when something is wrong. Remember, you are your cat’s advocate and voice at the vet’s office to explain your cat’s symptoms. Cats are small, and can become dehydrated or fail quickly. Getting them in to see the vet when you notice changes is important. Here are seven warning signs your cat might be giving you with their body language which might indicate that a trip to the vet is a must.

1. Change in Attitude

Some cats are overly affectionate, and others are more standoffish. Neither personality is right or wrong. But if she switches overnight from one to the other, these can be warning signs of a problem. Sometimes cats that calm down and seek more attention aren’t feeling well, and might be working through an illness. This could be something simple like a stomach ache, but could be a bigger problem such as a heart issue. If your once affectionate cat becomes standoffish, they might be looking for a quiet place to fend off an illness, which comes from the instinct to hide from predators. Taking your cat in for an exam to rule out certain illnesses and hopefully pinpoint the problem will at the very least give you peace of mind.

2. Change in Energy Levels

If your cat is usually full of energy and always ready to play, a switch to a lethargic lifestyle should be seen as warning signs. Especially if this is combined with other factors such as loss of appetite or grooming changes. Your cat might have a long term illness that could be managed with medication. While all cats might slow down over the years, if your cat has gone from extremely active to sleeping all of the time over a matter of weeks or months, there could be a larger issue that should be identified, such as a thyroid issue or cancer. While extreme diagnoses are stressful, catching problems early can help with pain management and possible recovery options.

3. Warning Signs in Sleeping Patterns

If your cat is suddenly up all night or is sleeping different places in your home, changes could just be patterns over time. However, sudden changes could point to a health-related issue. Be sure to identify if other factors are going on in your home, such as a new pet or child. New elements in your cat’s environment could cause stress. They might change behaviors such as sleeping in hidden spots or waking up more often. Sleep pattern changes could also be a topical issue with fleas or skin problems, agitating your cat and making it hard for them to relax. While it can be hard to monitor a cat’s overall sleeping patterns, a noticeable, immediate change should be acknowledged and run by your vet just in case.

4. Engagement Levels With Other Pets

It can be hard to have a harmonious home with multiple pets all of the time. Watching how your pets interact with one another can point to clues if one of them isn’t in top health. If one seems disengaged and far from the pack abruptly, they might be instinctually dealing with illness on their own. If other pets either ignore or overly engage with a pet that might be sick, such as over grooming and sniffing, it might be time to get your cat to the vet. Animals can have a heightened sense when it comes to illnesses. If your cat has cancer, diabetes, or another onset illness over time, other pets might sense warning signs before you.

5. Change in Grooming Habits

Grooming is an activity that can become an issue in older cats. If your younger cat is suddenly over or under grooming, this could be a larger issue. Cats with fleas or other skin irritants might over groom and end up with bald patches. If your cat seems to be lacking in the grooming department, this might be a weight issue, a dental issue, or unmanageable thick or snarled fur. Your cat might need to be shaved or professionally groomed in the summer months. It can be a good idea to start with the vet instead of the groomer to identify problems. This will give you peace of mind to see if there are other underlying issues that might be causing your cat to over or under groom.

6. Tooth, Gum, or Nail Problems

Doing an overall body check of your cat periodically is always a good idea. Places you should always check are their teeth, gums, nails, and paw pads. These can be common places for changes, injuries, and infections to occur that could spread quickly. If your cat’s teeth and gums seem sensitive to the touch, a visit to the vet might end in a dental cleaning or possibly tooth removal. Dental problems might also be discovered if your cat has stopped eating dry food or has trouble eating over time. With nails and paw pads, cats that are grooming their paws excessively or limping could have a bigger issue. If you are unable to cut your cat’s nails yourself, a periodic trimming at the vet will keep nails from splitting or growing into the nail bed as well.

7. Changes in Litter Box Behavior

If your cat is straining in the litter box, has suddenly started going outside of the box, or you notice changes in your cat’s stool, this is a good thing to discuss with your vet. These changes could be caused by a variety of possible illnesses, such as a urinary tract infection or tapeworm. Cats can dehydrate rapidly, so if your cat has diarrhea and isn’t drinking enough water, a short-term solution at the vet to hydrate them intravenously can be a big help while your vet works to identify if there is a bigger issue. If you have more than one cat, it can be hard to stay vigilant to keep your cat’s behavior separated. Just try your best to notice if one cat’s litter box habits have shifted.

While there are always extreme situations where you know you need to take your cat to the vet, there can be other, more subtle warning signs you might miss if you aren’t careful. As your cat’s #1 advocate, it’s important to listen to what they’re telling you and be sensitive to smaller changes. If your cat has changes in their everyday demeanor, behavior, or body language, contact us today for advice and to set up an appointment.

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Judy Richard
Judy Richard
posted 2 weeks ago

This has been the best place ever. They helped us through some very trying time because all kinds of allergies, ears feet, skin. Through it all he has been happy and now 11.Can not thank them enough.

Linda Hood
Linda Hood
posted 2 weeks ago

We are always greeted by the staff and I do want to thank Jackie for always being attentive and pleasant to our visit. Jackie was there when we had to put our Duffy down 7 years ago. She is very conscientious and compassionate to our needs. TCVH is very welcoming.

Cindy Stone
Cindy Stone
posted 1 month ago

Clean, friendly and I was immediately welcomed. All interactions with "Pumpkin" were sincere and loving . All seem to enjoy their jobs. Sensitive to my pet's needs. First time boarding at 5 years old. Did well.

Tiffany A Burger
Tiffany A Burger
posted 1 month ago

I cant say enough praise over this practice. Dr. Jacob and ALL the staff demonstrate true compassion towards animals as well to those who own them. I have witnessed time and time again how each staff member blesses every person and/or fur baby who enters their doors. I have experienced the power of knowledge, expertise and (most importantly) kindness from Dr. Jacob as he helped walk me through an emotional time when Nikita was really sick. They love on my girl like she was their own- every encounter. I keep coming back and referring others to see themselves why I just love this place.

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