It’s been not quite a year and I still get a pit in my stomach thinking that I should have spotted the signals that my cat and long-time companion was sick; but I didn’t.  For many people life is a balancing act every day juggling secular work, taking care of the family, and surviving in this economy.  However, pets are part of your family too.  You should be able to recognize the signs that your cat, or any pet for that matter, is sick.  Why is it so easy to miss the signs of sickness in your cat?  Are there any signs to look for that will tip you off that your cat’s health is off-kilter? 

Why Your Cat May Conceal Their Pain
Recognizing that your cat is sick may be difficult at times.  Cats will hide their pain for quite some time.  Why?  Your cat follows the same survival instincts as their descendants the larger cats in the wild.  Within the feline community a sick cat may lose their power and clout among the other cats.  As such, the stronger cats will take the best hunting grounds, watering holes, and safer rest areas.  Also, sick or not, wild cats need to hunt and navigate in order to eat.  They will push themselves because they have to eat to survive.  No food in a can for them!  Unlike humans, cats very seldom are complainers.  In fact, they will actually hide many times when they are sick.

Signs Your Cat May Be Sick
All cats have their own behavior and personality.  Some cats are more independent in their behavior than others.  Others may love to snuggle and could care less about doing their own thing.  However as a cat owner, it is important that you know your cat’s particular pattern of behavior. What do I mean by pattern of behavior?  Here are a few behavioral things you should know about your cat:

  • What time of day does your cat like to eat?
  • How often does your cat like to go outside?
  • How much water does your cat drink during the day?
  • Does your cat like using the litter box?
  • How often does your cat hide?
  • What does your cat do when your home?
  • How often does your cat sleep during the day?
  • How often does your cat play?
  • Does he or she like to be picked up? Or stroked?

By keeping a keen eye on any significant changes in behavior, you may be able to spot if your cat is having problems.  For instance, your cat may become more aggressive if they are in pain.  I know this firsthand.  My cat actually bit me twice.  Once the veterinarian checked him though, he discovered that the cat had swollen anal glands.  The vet said our cat's aggression was caused by the pain he was in.  Once the glands were relieved, my cat's aggression was gone.   Here are some things to look for that could signal your cat is sick:

  • Sudden aggression.
  • Sleeping more than normal.
  • Not using the litter box; going next to the litter box.
  • Hiding from humans.
  • Hissing or growling.
  • Not wanting to be stroked.
  • Excessive licking of certain areas of their body.
  • Excessive thirst.
  • Difficulty in walking or getting up.
  • Hair texture changes.
  • Your cat keeps pawing at their ears.

As strange as this may sound, you also need to watch for changes in your cat’s facial expressions.  When my cat was not feeling well, he actually had puffy eyebrows. 

Obviously, there are many health factors your pet may encounter that you cannot control.  However, by quickly spotting any abnormal behavior, you may be able to prevent some serious problems from developing.  With your sharper insight and a good veterinarian, your cat can have many happy healthy years.  After all, who said a cat had nine lives anyhow?  What about ten or many more…