10 Warning Signs Your Cat May Be Sick

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Most cat owners will tell you that cats have a very high tolerance to pain. Many times, it is almost undetectable if a cat is in pain or hurting. As loving cat owners, it is our job to do our best to pay attention to even the slightest change in our cat. These 10 Warning Signs Your Cat May Be Sick are important to helping you determine if your cat is sick. Keep in mind that should your cat present any of these symptoms, you should seek veterinary attention immediately.

These 10 Warning Signs Your Cat May Be Sick are a must-read for any pet owner!

10 Warning Signs Your Cat May Be Sick!

Litter box changes – One of the first and easiest signs your cat may be sick is when you find him urinating or defecating outside of his cat box. While this also may signal he hates the cleanliness of his box, it more than likely means your cat has a urinary infection, etc.

Activity change – If you have a pretty inactive cat to begin with, you may not notice an activity change. However, if your cat is normally pretty frisky and all of a sudden you find him lethargic or not interested in usual activities, it is time to take him to the vet to get assessed.

Change in Appetite – If your cat all of a sudden decides to stop eating/drinking, or begins eating frantically, he may be sick. If you recently changed your cat food, perhaps consider giving it a full day to see if your cat is boycotting the change as well.

Obvious Odour – When you notice your cat has an odour change in the fur, mouth, poo department, etc. this definitely means something is going on with your cat.

Sleep Changes – Your cat has a routine, one that includes when he is normally awake and when he goes to bed. If you are finding that your normally sleepy cat is awake or that he is constantly sleeping, it is a big warning sign.

Vomiting/Diarrhea – Cats and hairballs usually go hand-in-hand. However, if you are finding that your cat is vomiting abnormally and/or having diarrhea, you need to be vigilant. Vomiting could also mean a poisoning, so if your cat goes outdoors it is important to seek veterinary attention quickly.

Change in Weight – An obvious change in weight occurs over time. It may seem sudden, but most likely your cat is dealing with a prolonged illness. Combined with other warning factors, your cat needs to visit the vet.

Grooming Change – Most cats spend the day bathing themselves. However, a sick cat won’t be spending time on their coat. Rather, you will notice a greasy coat and perhaps odour.

Dilated Eyes – Some diseases may present themselves as dilation of the eye/eyes. You will want to get your can seen sooner rather than later!

Quick Breathing – Respiratory issues are a severe warning sign. If your cats breathing is quick, or even shallower than usual, pay close attention.

Looking For More Cat Resources to Read?

Veterinary Care on a Budget – Getting your cat medical attention doesn’t have to break the bank.

Veterinary Care On A Budget to Save Money While Keeping Your Cat Healthy!

5 Smart Hacks for Using Baking Soda For Your Cat – Who knew baking soda could be so useful?

Quick Guide to Indoor and Outdoor Cat Care – This guide helps you decide whether indoor or outdoor care is best for your cat.


  1. This is such great information. Cats are so stoic. If you don’t keep an eye out, they can be sick without you even knowing it.

  2. kathy downey says:

    Thanks for sharing these are all signs we should be watching for!

  3. These are some great things to keep in mind for every cat owner. If you pay attention to your cat’s daily routine, it should be relatively easy to notice when something’s just “not right.” Thanks for sharing!

  4. Tania B says:

    This is a really great post. My cat Sammy had a bout with pancreatitis and went off food for a day or two but I knew something was up because his pupils were very dilated. We took him the to vet and just needed to get some IV fluids and treat him symptomatically and give him some antibiotics just in case. Scary though!

  5. A cats personality changes so much when they are sick. I always say the minute a cat stops acting like they are in charge is usually when you should start worrying, laugh.

  6. What a great list to help cat owners. Sometimes it is hard for cat owners to know if a cat is in pain, so this is something all cat owners should read!

  7. Pam Wattenbarger says:

    It is so important to realize when your cat is sick. If you catch it early it may not have a chance to get serious.

  8. Great info. We just got three kittens in our family, and I’ve not had cats since I was a kid. Definitely need to brush up on my cat health signs. Thank you!

  9. Claudia Krusch says:

    It is so important to know these signs if you have a cat. I always take my fur baby in for a checkup if I notice a sudden change in the litter box.

  10. Elizabeth Matthiesen says:

    These tips will be welcomed by a lot of cat owners. 🙂

  11. Thank you for sharing this info. Very wise advice and nice to have it bookmarked for all the signs in one place. Appreciate the help.

  12. Always a good reminder! Especially about the changes in litter box usage. 🙂

  13. Amy Desrosiers says:

    I remember when my husband’s cats passed away- they got so sick, so fast and stopped eating, and eventually had kidney failure. I think they ate something bad poor things.

    • Kristen says:

      I am so sorry to hear this Amy. I have lost many cats to kidney disease and it never gets easier….

  14. A good cat owner will know how to read their cat. These are all good signs that something is changing or may potentially be wrong even if not necessarily sick.

  15. Great information! It is so hard to tell with pets sometimes if it’s just an off day or of there’s really something wrong.

  16. SAVING THIS! We are hoping to get a cat this year, and I have so much to learn.

  17. My husband says that another way to tell is by the color of their tongue. If it isn’t a bright pink, then that could be a sign that they are sick.

  18. The odor is a great tip. Wouldn’t have thought of that one.

  19. This is great to know. I hate it when any of our pets get sick. Knowing what to watch for really helps.

  20. Great advice! Everyone should have a good idea of what to look for in their pets!

  21. I don’t have pets, but these are very important tips to keep in mind. I can see how easily you might not notice them.

  22. These are really useful tips! It’s important that we are aware when our cats are sick. Will have to share this with my friends.

  23. Wonderful guide to detecting illness in your cat. My cat used to disappear and hide when he was feeling poorly. I believe this is an instinct where weakness in the wild means becoming an easy target. I see this often in dogs and horses as well. Very important information to have.

  24. Stephanie LaPlante says:

    Thanks for sharing these awesome tips with the world. I have 8 beautiful rescues and I watch for absolutely everything. My vet probably thinks I’m paranoid but we always enjoy our visit and sense of relief.

  25. These are good tips cat owners need to remember. Sometimes we may not notice a subtle change that could delay veterinary care.

  26. I’m always happy to see blogs that are helping people to understand how to see when something isn’t right. So often initial signs are ignored only to have a problem “explode.”

  27. Kamira Gayle says:

    This is a great list. Yep. Been there. I remember seeing the lethargy and more frequent hair balls syndrome in my cat too. Best to take you pet to the vet even if you think it’s “nothing”. It can really make all the difference.

  28. Great information, I have been learning so much about cats from the blogs that I wish I had known when I had them, thank you

  29. This is great info! I will have to share this with my cat-parent friends.

  30. Thank you for sharing this information. I was familiar with everything except the dilated eyes. Truffle and Brulee’s eyes are dilated a lot because there is little natural light in my home and it’s dark.

  31. Cats are very good at hiding pain and illness. I urge anyone who sees one of the signs that you’ve listed to investigate the cause. Go to the veterinarian for help. Get wellness check-ups so the veterinarian can see the early signs of developing problems. My angel kitty, Cinco, had no signs of his cancer until it was too late. I tend to beat myself up because I passed on getting some tests done (for financial reasons) at his last wellness exam that could have told us he was in trouble. He seemed perfectly healthy all of his 10 years until suddenly one day he wouldn’t eat. I had to help him to the bridge 2 days later.

  32. In my experience with cats we’ve experienced most of those symptoms. There’s nothing worse than being woken up in the middle of the night by a cat’s projectile vomiting. But, my tortie Saffie hid her oral cancer from us for months. It was only after I had to say goodbye that I could see all the signs that something was wrong but it was too late.

    • Kristen says:

      I am so sorry Dolly. I lost my Aurora the same way and by the time it was found, it was too late. I miss her everyday.

  33. It’s the subtle signs we have to watch for, as you point out. Long ago, I used to think litter box issues were always behaviorial, but when people ask litter box questions now, I ask them to rule out medical issues first. One of the biggest ways cats let us know something isn’t right. When my Bo was aging, how I wish I’d known then what I know now, could’ve done so much more to help him.

    • We all have those regrets Karen. Our cats are so good at hiding their pain and we figure it out too late so often. You will snuggle Bo again one day, I promise!

  34. I lost Nala to kidney disease at 19+ and I did not really realize she was so sick until she peed pink on a white carpet shortly before she passed- she never had accidents so straight to the vet.

    • I am so sorry to hear this. It happens to the best of us. They hide it so well. I have lost many cats to kidney disease.

  35. Beyond all the obvious physical signs, Mr. N also gets super clingy when he feels sick. That’s usually how I know.

  36. Cats really are so good at masking pain and illness. That’s why it so important to keep a close eye on them so we can notice even the smallest of changes. Thanks for this list warning signs!

  37. kathy downey says:

    You always have to be aware of anything different with your Cat,after our cat was not moving around much for a few days a trip to the vet and we found out his front paw joint was being attacked by micro-organisms ,a quick operation to clean out the joint and some steroids and he should be fine in a few days,but been told it could flare up again but maybe not for years.

  38. CALVIN F. says:

    Very simple diagnostics that work most of the time! 😀

  39. A great list of things to watch for in a cat. Our cat would hide on us when he was sick- we even missed a vet apt while trying to find him in the house. We did finally find him and take him in and it was an infection in his mouth and a couple days of antibiotics and he was back to normal.

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