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Cat Symptom Checker: Match Your Cat’s Symptoms to Health Conditions

An Intuitive Tool to Help Figure Out What's Wrong With Your Cat

By December 30, 2013 | See Comments

  • expert or vet photo
    vet verified

    PetCareRx Staff Veterinarian

    DVM

A Cat Sleeping In A Pet Bed

Cats can get sick all the time with many of the same ailments as pet parents. However, symptoms for cats can be much different than they are for humans. Our cat symptom checker is a great way to figure out what may be wrong with your feline friend.

When cats become sick, they can’t tell us with words. Instead, cat parents need to be vigilant, keeping an eye out for any symptoms that could point to illness. It also helps to stay ahead of the curve by giving them preventative medication like Advantage Multi for cats. This useful chart breaks down cat symptoms by area of the body, then tells you what each symptom could mean.

Our cat symptom checker is a good place to get started identifying what could be wrong with your cat, but always contact your veterinarian for final diagnosis and treatment solutions.

Ears
Eyes
Nose
 
Mouth
 
Abdominal
 
Urinary
 
Bowel
 
Skin & Coat
Behavioral  
 
Head
Other
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If you prefer your information less jazzed up, and a little more scannable, below is all the same information contained in the Cat Symptom Checker Tool above in a neat table format.

The Cat Symptom Checker Table

 

COMMON SYMPTOMS AND CAUSES

Ears

Itching, redness, discharge, or odor: Ear infection, ear mites, allergies, wax buildup, tumor

Swelling: Ear cancer, abscess, hematoma

Hearing loss: Deafness

Eyes

Discharge, redness, or swelling: Eye infection, allergies, conjunctivitis (pink eye), upper respiratory infection, corneal disorders, dry eye, feline infectious peritonitis, feline AIDS, leukemia, distemper, glaucoma, eye defects, eye injury

Clouding: Eye infection, eye defects, corneal disease, tumor

Jaundice (yellowing): Liver disease, feline infectious peritonitis, infection, heart tumor, stem cell disorders

Mouth

Abnormal gum color: Heart disease, heart failure, anemia, cancer, distemper, feline AIDS, leukemia, kidney disease, poisoning, upper respiratory infection

Bad breath: Gingivitis, gum disease, mouth ulcer, cavities, tumor, gastrointestinal problems, liver disease, kidney disease, retained deciduous teeth

Bleeding: Gingivitis, mouth cancer, ulcer, tumor, jaw fracture

Difficulty breathing or coughing: Pneumonia, anemia, heartworm disease, upper respiratory infection, hyperthyroidism, feline infectious peritonitis, heart problems (disease, failure, murmur, or cancer), poisoning, bronchitis, asthma, lung cancer, fungal infections, hernia, foreign object in throat

Difficulty swallowing: Dental infection; mouth infection; hyperthyroidism; tonsil, thyroid, or throat cancer; tonsillitis; sore throat; foreign object in throat

Drooling: Rabies, upper respiratory infection, feline AIDS, mouth, tonsil, or tongue cancer, tooth fracture, kidney disease, ulcers, gum disease, cavities, heat stroke, epilepsy

Vomiting: Swallowing something indigestible, rushed eating, distemper, intestinal parasites, allergies, heartworm disease, infection, poisoning, tonsillitis, inflammatory bowel disease, leukemia, kidney disease, liver disease, pancreatitis, epilepsy

Nose

Bleeding: Injury, foreign object stuck in nose, infection, tumor, parasites, clotting disorder, cancer

Sneezing or discharge: Bacterial, fungal, or viral infections (especially feline herpes virus and feline calicivirus), upper respiratory infection, allergies, feline infectious peritonitis, feline AIDS, leukemia, chlamydia, bordetella

Head

Shaking: Ear mites, ear infection, kidney stones

Swelling: Allergies, insect bite

Tilting: Rabies, vestibular disorders, meningitis, tumor

Skin and Hair

Chewing, licking, scratching, flaking, or redness: Parasites, allergies, dry skin, skin irritation, infection, kidney disease, pain, anxiety, boredom

Hair loss: Hyperthyroidism, parasites, allergies, skin irritation, ringworm, alopecia, ulcer, infection

Urinary

Blood in urine: Urinary tract infection, kidney disease, cancer, diabetes, feline urinary tract disease, fungal infection

Frequent, painful, or strained urination: Urinary tract infection, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, bladder stones, feline urinary tract disease, liver disease, kidney disease, cancer

Incontinence or going outside of the litter box: Aging, kidney disease, urinary tract infection, feline urinary tract disease, bladder stones, congenital defect of the uterus, spinal cord injury

Bowel

Blood in stool: Stomach or intestinal bleeding, inflammatory bowel disease, irritable bowel syndrome, poisoning, parasites, infection, ulcer, leukemia

Constipation: Dehydration, hairballs, tumor, colitis, feline urinary tract disease

Diarrhea: Food allergies/intolerance, heartworm disease, inflammatory bowel disease, kidney disease, irritable bowel syndrome, colitis, hyperthyroidism, parasites, cancer, pancreatitis

Abdominal

Pain: Urinary tract or intestinal obstruction, bladder rupture, trauma, poisoning, feline infectious peritonitis, liver disease, cancer

Swelling or distention: Foreign body in gastrointestinal tract, tumor, hernia, heart disease, feline infectious peritonitis

Behavioral

Aggression: Rabies, poisoning

Disorientation or loss of balance: Rabies, vestibular disorder, hypoglycemia, high blood pressure, liver disease, brain injury, brain parasites, epilepsy

Increased thirst: Kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, liver disease, diabetes, bacterial infection, poisoning

Lack of appetite or weight loss: Upper respiratory infection, heartworm disease, pancreatitis, hyperthyroidism, feline infectious peritonitis, feline AIDS, kidney failure, cancer, liver disease, intestinal problems, parasites, pneumonia, distemper, toothache, recent vaccination

Lethargy, weakness, depression, or hiding: Heart disease, heart failure, heart murmur, heartworm disease, cancer, feline infectious peritonitis, feline AIDS, feline herpes, kidney failure, lyme disease, anemia, pneumonia, infection, arthritis, hip dysplasia, poisoning, tumor, pancreatitis, diabetes, liver disease, distemper

Other

Fever: Bacterial, viral, or fungal infection, distemper, upper respiratory infection, feline infectious peritonitis, injury, tumor, pancreatitis

Lameness or limping: Injury, arthritis, infection, lyme disease, hip dysplasia, cancer, muscle disorder

Paralysis: Spinal cord injury, rabies, heart disease, heart failure, tumor, poisoning

Seizure: Poisoning, head injury, kidney failure, liver failure, epilepsy


Contact your veterinarian if your cat is showing any signs of illness. Many health conditions require immediate veterinary attention.

More on Cat Health

Why Is My Cat Throwing Up After Eating?
Semi Moist Cat Food and Mixed-Food Diets
All About Cat Examinations - What to Expect at a Vet Visit

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.

 

2016-06-13T14:42:57

I am feeding three cats for an elderly lady that has had a long stay in the hospital. I believe two of her three cats are unhealthy
The cats need some veterinary care. one of the cats is pulling clumps of hair out, swinging tail side to side in a agitated manner and has weight loss. The other cat has had a tumor removed off his back and the skin has not healed well and is often inflamed and oozing. I am assuming this is new, however, I only met the cats after she went into the hospital. She has no one to feed her cats nor has she any family. So some of her health care providers agreed to help her out. Any programs out there for this special need? We will keep taking care of her cats, but we need help with the vet care.


2016-06-12T09:50:21

Bookmarked this page... cats are so good at hiding symptoms though you've got to be pretty alert to spot any abnormal behavior. It's a 'wild-animal' trait when they try to hide any weakness/illness. I've always had the general rule that if you suspect something is wrong.. get them to the vets! We had numerous cats in our neighborhood poisoned with antifreeze so you have to act quickly!


2016-06-01T02:29:47

My 14 yr. old, indoor cat has lost a lot of weight. His gums are white and he's rubbing his mouth. his chin is red and he has lost some of his hair. He still is eating well, dried and canned food. He has stopped grooming himself, but still uses the litter box. Any ideas? He still is the loving cat we know.


2016-03-24T09:01:41

Probably old age getting caught up


2016-03-24T09:00:20

Milk is nitrous to give cats milk if you wanna give your cat milk try kitten milk replacer you can get it grocery store but sometimes still gives them diarrhea is u get it at the vet it's pretty much good. Dade county animal hospital in Trenton. GA I know has it for only 12.00 and itsee a good brand and works well


2014-09-14T03:11:57

my cats stomach was very bloated when I came home last night she has been laying around the house all day very moving she peed a couple of times had a slight bowel movement & has been hiding, I know she got 2 hummingbirds because she brought them in the house, dead with their heads missing, she vomited up her un digested cat food last night


2014-04-22T05:45:34

So sorry to hear of health problems in your beloved friend. Since your cat is already under the treatment of a vet who has prescribed medication, it's best to consult that doctor with questions if the treatment isn't working. That information may help the vet refine the treatment.


2014-04-22T01:55:29

Hyperthyroid. More or less medication??? Cat LOVES milk & has diarrhea as a direct result!


2014-04-22T01:09:45

thyroid condition, 12+ year old indoor cat, severe weight loss, unkempt coat
constant hunger. 1 of 2 in suburban home treated daily with Methimazole, 5mg, treated twice daily with 1.5 units per vet's Rx. How treat this old friend?

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