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6 Sneaky Signs Your Cat is Sick

Does your cat seem a little off lately? Many felines will hide any obvious signs of illness—it’s a survival instinct—so it can be hard to tell for sure. Here’s a quick guide that can help you figure out if your cat is sick.

Is Your Cat Sick?

Because cats don’t show pain or illness the same way people do, it’s important to pay close attention to their behavior. Regular vet check-ups help keep your cat healthy. You should also schedule a trip to the vet if you notice any of these signs your cat might be sick.

1. Change in appetite.

Eating less—or more—than usual might be a sign that your cat is sick.

2. The “meow” test.

A quiet cat that suddenly starts meowing a lot, or a chatty cat that turns quiet, might be dealing with an illness.

3. Bad breath.

Cat-food breath is normal. But a strong, very unpleasant odor isn’t. Get your cat checked out if you notice something extra fishy.

4. Hiding.

Some cats like to spend a lot of time out of sight. But a social cat who starts spending an unusual amount of time hiding out might be feeling sick. (And instinctively trying to hide from predators.)

5. Neediness.

Likewise, if your typically aloof cat starts demanding a lot of attention, he or she might be trying to “tell” you that something’s wrong.

6. Under- or over-grooming.

Cats like to keep themselves clean. If yours starts neglecting the job, something might be wrong. Over-grooming, like licking or chewing the same spot repeatedly—possibly causing hair loss or skin irritation—can also be a sign of a sick cat.

7. Litter box problems.

Many cat owners assume that litter box problems are strictly behavioral, but in fact, a cat who starts going outside the box might have a medical problem. Schedule a visit to the vet before you move on to behavioral solutions. Read this for more on solving litter box problems.

What to do if you think you have a sick cat.

If you suspect your cat is sick, don’t take a “wait and see” approach. He or she might be fine, but it’s best to get a checkup from the vet to be sure. Most common feline illnesses are completely treatable—and the sooner you catch them, the sooner your sick cat can get back to normal.