| How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick |
The cat's coat will tell you about its health. If the cats diet is good and in general good condition, the coat should be gleaming and free from dandruff. The cats eye's should be clear and bright, with no discharge, redness or blinking. The tissue around the cat’s eye should be pink and not red. The cats nose leather should be cool and slightly damp.
Often, it's only by knowing how your cat normally acts and behaves that you will be able to tell if it is unwell. Your cat’s health depends on you; so don't be afraid to say if you think something is wrong, no matter how small. The vet many only see your cat once a year, and will not know its general behavior. Make sure you note your cat’s behavior with regards to eating and drinking.
The first sign of your cat being unwell may be a change in its normal behavior. If your cat is normally friendly and starts to show signs of aggression then look for other signs of illness as well. A lack of response to being called may mean a fever or a temporary deafness caused by an ear mite infestation.
An ungroomed look to your cat’s coat with abnormally raised fur is a general indication of ill health.
If you are still concerned, then check your cat's stools; they should be firm with out a strong odor. If you have an outdoor cat, try to confine it and provide it with a litter tray to check.
Diarrhea may be caused by an upset stomach, if the cat has eaten contaminated food from a dustbin, but is could be something more serious, if it is persistent. Constipation can also be a problem, especially if there is any blood in the stools.
If the third eyelid is visible, it means that there is an infection, or something has got into the cats eye. Any redness or inflammation or thick yellow discharge is cause for concern. If either of the cat’s pupils appears diluted and does not react to bright light, this needs urgent veterinary attention.
Clear wax in the ear is normal, but any dark brown wax is not. This may mean that there are ear mites, which will need veterinary attention. Also look out for seeds and grass that may have got stuck in the ear. A cat will shake and scratch its ear should a seed get stuck in it. The wall of the ear canal and flap (pinna) is very delicate. A puncture to the pinna often results in a haematoma (a large blood blister) that could become infected if not treated. If the cat’s ears get very hot, the cat may have temperature, but check this is not because your cat has been lying in the sun or somewhere hot before you rush your cat to the vet.
Light vomiting is normal, and no cause for concern, you cat may have just eaten its food too fast, or it may be fur balls. But persistent vomiting especially if it contains blood is important and you should check with your vet to find the cause.
A good indication that a cat has a temperature is that its ears are hot. A rectal thermometer is needed in order to take a precise temperature reading, which should be 38-38.5°C. Unless you have been taught how to do this properly, you should let your vet do it.
Key pulse points are located under the forearms (armpits) and back legs (groin). The pulse rate may vary between 120 and 170 depending on how active your cat is. The average is 150.
You should check your cat regularly to make sure it is in good condition. Early signs of conditions such as mite infestation or fleas will prevent more serious problems developing later. A good time to check you cat is when you are both relaxing together. If you cat shows any signs of ill health or discomfort you can go through the checking points described above. Then you can take your cat to the vet should you need to, and give a detailed report of what you have found.
A good reason for grooming your cat regularly is that you will find any lumps or signs of fleas, mites, ticks or lice. Comb the cat over with some moistened absorbent paper. If the grit removed leaves a red stain, these are blood-gorged feces of fleas. If not, the cat has probably just been rolling in the garden.
Small, raised grey or whitish lumps indicate ticks. These can irritate the cat as the tick's head is buried deep into the skin, leaving only the body visible. They should be removed as soon as possible, but care should be taken not to leave the head behind as this can cause an abscess.
The claws of an indoor cat need to be checked regularly in case they need clipping and to prevent them from in growing. Also check for any soreness or wounds on the pads.