Cat owners know that their little furballs are complex but deeply affectionate animals who bring them a world of joy and comfort. But cats are independent pets, and they tend to hide vulnerability — they don't always look unwell, even if they are. The symptoms of sickness in cats can be subtle and often, hard to notice.
“As such, symptoms of sickness in cats can be very subtle, and hence difficult to notice," says Dr Vinod Sharma, Head of Veterinary Services, DCC Animal Hospital, Delhi. “So, if at any point you suspect that your cat doesn't seem like their usual self, do not wait too long. You should seek medical advice for your cat's health at the earliest, and schedule an appointment for a veterinary examination.” Here is a list of things he says you can look out for and do, to ensure your cats are in the pink of health.
They become quiet
Cats have a tendency of hiding their vulnerabilities. It is an evolutionary trait that is their defence mechanism against larger predators to whom they would be easy targets if they were weak and vulnerable. This means that the first sign of something not being right would be when your cats start to keep to themselves and/or are unusually quiet. Alternatively, this could also mean that your feline has been sick for a while already.
Wellness check-ups are highly recommended for cats, whether or not you notice any symptoms; a medical professional would be able to better diagnose any sickness. Here is how often you should get your cats checked up:
Kittens between 0-6 months: Every 1-2 months
Cats between 7 months to 2 years: Every 6 months
Cast between 3-10 years: Yearly
Cats above 11 years of age: Twice yearly
As a cat parent, keeping a general check on things like their general appearance, energy levels, how sociable they are, the appearance of their coat of fur and/or the amount of shedding, their appetite, litterbox usage, respiration, or secretions from the eyes or nose could be very useful as well.
Their posture changes
If your cat is sick, they may lose interest in activities they once used to enjoy. They may sit in a slumped stance, move less smoothly than before, fail to elevate their head properly or carry their tail in an abnormal manner.
Sudden weight loss
Sudden weight loss is a strong warning sign that your cat might be sick. A sudden loss of appetite, decreased water consumption, or dehydration could indicate that your feline is unwell. Consulting a doctor might be a good option if you detect a change in how your cat feels when you run your hands over their ribs and spine; if you notice frailty, they seem less affectionate and more irritable.
And as goes the golden saying — prevention is better than cure. So, as soon as you notice your cat(s) not acting like their usual selves, seek immediate medical advice. The bottom line: happy cat, happy you.