When our dogs are sick or feeling sad, it’s easy to distinguish their new behavior from their general happy-go-lucky disposition. Cats, on the other hand, are a different beast entirely. Evolution has allowed them to hide pain and illness quite well, meaning that it can be a bit difficult for you to determine whether or not they’re not at their best. The good news? There are certain behaviors and signs of a sick cat that you can look out for in order to catch illness or mood disorders before they worsen.  

If you have a cat at home and believe they’re currently ill or dealing with stress, here are six signs of a sick cat you shouldn’t ignore.

Cat Lying Down: 6 Signs of a Sick Cat

1. Your Cat Has Started to Hide More Than Usual

If your feline friend is new to your home or is simply more of a recluse, hiding behaviors aren’t of much concern as they’re adjusting to their new space or just prefer to be alone. However, cats that aren’t coming around as much or making themselves known to you can definitely be a cause for concern. In nature, cats hide away as a means to avoid showing predators their weakness if they’re sick or preparing to pass. If you notice that your cat’s not responding to you, hiding somewhere outdoors and not moving around as much, or doesn’t appear to be interested in their surroundings or things like food and toys, this is a good indication that it’s time to take a trip to the vet to see what’s wrong with them.

2. A Sick Cat Won’t Show Interest in Food or Water

Some cats are finicky, only eating if you change their food brand every so often and switch between wet and dry foods. However, if you find that your cat is refusing all the food and treats that you’re putting in front of them, you might have a sick cat on your hands. This becomes even more troublesome if they refuse to drink water as well. Whether it’s something serious like periodontal disease or another issue entirely, getting help quickly is key to potentially giving them the treatment that they need to land on their feet.

3. Your Cat Has Stopped Going in Their Litter Box

When our furry friends have an accident on the floor or the carpet, it can be easy to see it as just a mess or a nuisance. However, cats that frequently go to the bathroom outside of their litter box despite having gone regularly inside may be telling us something more. Bathroom use outside of the litter box can point to issues like urinary tract infections or kidney disease (although it may just be behavioral issues that can be solved with some changes at home in some situations). With the right support, you and your veterinarian can get the bottom of it and find the right treatment plan or trainer to get your sick cat back on track.

4. There’s a Sudden and Troubling Weight Change in Your Kitty

As cats get older, changes in weight are to be expected. However, these changes can sometimes be tied to certain diseases or disorders that older cats experience. If you have an older cat, making sure that you schedule routine checkups to monitor them and any changes in behavior, weight, and activity is key to keeping them healthy.

But what about younger cats? If a younger cat is experiencing major weight loss or is underweight, even if they are eating and doing everything as they normally would, it’s important to schedule a vet visit because they could be dealing with thyroid issues or diabetes. A sick cat that’s gaining weight rapidly can also be cause for concern as it may be a sign that they’re dealing with an infection somewhere in their reproductive system or digestive system. You should also pay close attention to any changes in behavior in eating or drinking as this may give your vet further insight into what your sick cat is dealing with.

5. Your Cat Has an Unkempt Appearance

Unlike dogs, cats are remarkable at caring for themselves and making sure they look their best. So it’s only troubling when you find that your cat is no longer grooming as they normally do. One possibility is that changes in grooming behaviors can be associated with certain parasites on the skin or skin conditions that make grooming harder for your kitty. This is especially true for cats that end up overgrooming and leaving themselves with bald patches or raw skin. Another possibility is that your cat is dealing with pain or has aged to the point where they can no longer properly care for themselves. Whichever end of the spectrum your sick cat is on, getting help is crucial to their health and wellness.

6. Your Cat Has Trouble Moving or Is Vocalizing and Purring Much More Than Usual

Most of us attribute a cat that’s lying on the ground and purring as one that’s quite happy. Unfortunately, happy behaviors can sometimes mask problems going on with your cat. A sick cat that has some issues getting around and spends most of the time lying in a secluded place or is acting far more vocal by meowing more or purring loudly constantly can be a serious issue. If you notice these behaviors along with some of the other behaviors above, seek out vet help immediately.

You Know Your Cat Better Than Anyone

Cat owners are in-tune with their feline’s behaviors and personalities, putting them in a unique position to catch something wrong with their kitties before it’s too late. Whether you want to be prepared to spot a sick cat in the future or you believe your cat is currently dealing with something that’s impacting its usual habits, the six signs above will help you spot symptoms ahead of time and make it so that you get your cat to the vet as soon as possible.