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When to Take a Cat to the Vet

How to Spot the Signs That Mean Your Cat Should See a Vet

By Madeleine Burry. January 09, 2013 | See Comments

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When to Take a Cat to the Vet

It is hard to know when to take your cat to the vet, since they have no way of letting you know what is bothering them or how serious it is. Rather that rushing out the door every time your cat looks at you funny, read this before you make an unnecessary trip to the vet.

Sometimes it can be difficult to judge when your cat is in genuine trouble, and when they are experiencing a fleeting problem. While your cat will never be able to tell you directly what’s going on, you can learn to identify common signs that your cat isn’t doing well, and should be taken to your local veterinarian for a check up.

Does Your Cat Seem “Off”?

Since you spend a lot of time with your cat, you probably have a good sense of their typical behavior -- how much time they spend sleeping, how frequently they eat, and how much interaction they like. Any major deviation from the baseline of how your cat generally behaves is a good indication that there may be some sort of problem, especially if it lasts for an extended period. Be watchful for a change in your cat’s energy level, if they become suddenly disinterested in food and play, or if your cat hides from you in an atypical manner. Changes in your cat’s behavior can be a sign of an illness.

Vocal Communications

Similarly, you’re probably accustomed to how frequently your cat meows and communicates. If there is suddenly a lot more noise coming from your cat than usual -- or a lot less -- this could be an indication that your cat is experiencing pain or some kind of discomfort.

Physical Symptoms

If your cat is sneezing frequently, seems stuffy, or has eye discharge, they may have a simple cold, but there’s also the possibility your cat has feline herpes, feline calicivirus, or chlamydia. These more serious diseases require attention from a veterinarian and prescription antibiotics.

Excessive grooming and hair loss can also indicate an illness. Both of these symptoms can occur as a result of an allergy, so if you have recently started using something new around the home, stop using the product. It could also reflect that your cat has fleas, so check for signs of them. However, hair loss and obsessive grooming can also occur because of more serious allergies, Cushing’s disease, or thyroid conditions. If you can’t easily resolve the problem with product changes or the elimination of any parasites, visit the vet to determine the cause of this symptom.

Attitude Toward Food

Generally, a change in feeding habits could indicate different diseases, from diabetes to hyperthyroidism, and should be taken very seriously. When cats skip eating for several days, they can develop hepatic lipidosis, and use up their stored-up fat, causing problems to the liver.

Litter Box Habits

Cats are generally fairly fastidious about the litter box, and so if your cat starts going outside of the box, pay attention. Check first that this isn’t happening because the litter is being changed too infrequently, or because too many cats are sharing the same litter box. If those situations aren’t occurring, bring your cat to the vet since your cat may have a urinary tract infection, urinary stones, or other diseases.

As well, be mindful that bloody diarrhea, or feces that are a tarry black color, and excessive vomiting, are all sure signs of illness. If these signs of gastrointestinal distress last for more than a day or two, be sure to visit the vet to determine the underlying problem.

Use a vet finder to find the right veterinarian for your pet.
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This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.

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