Because cats are creatures of habit, changes in their behavior are often clues that something is amiss. Once you know what to look for, it becomes easier to determine that your cat is under the weather.

1. Signs to Watch For

While variety is said to be the spice of life, certain changes in your cat’s behavior may be a sign that he is under the weather. Sudden decreases in your cat’s energy level, appetite, or weight often serve as a signal that your cat isn’t feeling well.

Here are a few other developments that should put you on alert:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea or bloody stools
  • Constipation
  • Bloody urine or accidents outside the litterbox
  • Increased drinking and/or urination
  • Sneezing or nasal discharge
  • Runny eyes or holding one eyelid shut
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Limping or inability to use hind legs
  • Unusual lumps, bumps, or swellings
  • Bad breath or excessive drooling
  • Hiding or yowling
If you see string, yarn or dental floss hanging out of your cat’s mouth or anus. (Don’t pull it out, call your vet.)

If your cat tries to urinate, but no urine appears, contact your vet immediately. Male cats can sometimes develop urinary tract blockages. Not only is this super painful for the cat, but it’s a medical emergency as well.

2. Take Your Cat’s Temperature

If you’re concerned that your cat may have a fever, you can take his temperature with a thermometer in the rectum. The normal range for a healthy cat’s temperature is 100.5°F to 102.5°F. If your cat’s temperature falls above or below this range, contact your veterinarian.

3. Once You’ve Gathered Your Info, Take Action Sooner, Rather than Later

It’s never too early to contact your vet about a sick cat — so don’t wait. When changes occur, call your veterinarian’s office to see if they think you should schedule an appointment or even come in immediately. Be prepared to tell them the signs that make you believe that something is wrong with your cat. Also, ask your vet in advance what they recommend you do after hours. Some veterinary practices have an emergency number to call at night or a recommendation for a 24-hour animal hospital. If you do need to call the animal emergency room, be sure to tell them what signs you are seeing and ask if they believe that your cat needs immediate veterinary attention.

If your cat spends time outdoors, it may not be completely obvious that he’s been exposed to toxins or suffered a traumatic encounter with a dog, cat, or even a car. If you suspect that your cat has sustained a traumatic injury of some kind, contact your vet immediately.

This article was reviewed by a Veterinarian.