A-Z of Cat Health: Cat Symptom Checker

cat health symptoms

The symptoms below are listed A through Z, sorted by where they affect the body. So, for example, swollen feet appears under ‘Feet: Swollen’ whereas a swollen abdomen appears under ‘Abdomen: Swollen.’

Cat Symptoms A-to-Z

A

Abdomen: Painful (ascites, bacterial infection, peritonitis, cancer)

Even though cats can’t tell us when they’re in pain; lethargy, trembling and whimpering may tell us that they are experiencing abdominal issues.

Other symptoms include:

  • Abnormal posture
  • Heavy breathing
  • Swollen and rigid abdomen
  • Vomiting and diarrhea

Abdominal pain (peritonitis) is due to a sudden inflammation of the abdominal tissues. Which can then lead to dehydration and electrolyte imbalance.

The disorder can be due to infection or a result of non-infectious causes such as hernia. Younger cats tend to suffer from the condition due to infection. Whilst older cats will be more susceptible to malignant cancers.

Other potential causes include:

  • Holes in the stomach lining
  • Bacterial infection of the uterus
  • Abscesses
  • Poisoning
  • Congenital defects
  • Kidney or gallbladder obstruction

Whatever your cat’s age, if you spot any of the symptoms, seek advice from your vet. Whilst most cases are easily treated, your cat may require emergency surgery.

Your vet will ask for medical history to try and determine a cause and suggest the best course of treatment. A physical examination will then be performed to check if the pain is affecting the abdomen, kidneys or back. Additional testing includes analyzing your cat’s blood profile for conclusive evidence. If visual diagnostics are required your vet will use an X-ray to determine the source of the disturbance.

Common courses of treatment include:

  • Intravenous fluid therapy to aid hydration.
  • Pain relief
  • Oral medicine to decrease stomach acids.
  • Antibiotics to treat infection

Abdomen: Swollen (ascites/edema)

Ascites is a common condition for cats which refers to the buildup of fluid in the abdomen.
Symptoms will usually include, vomiting, noticeable abdominal pain, and loss of appetite. There are numerous causes for the build-up in fluids. The treatment options vary based on the cause of the condition.
Other common symptoms include:
  • Lethargy
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weight gain
  • Groaning when lying down.
Causes include:
  • Abdominal bleeding or inflammation
  • Abdominal cancer
  • Abdominal inflammation
  • Liver damage
  • Low levels of protein in the blood

Your vet will diagnose the condition by running a complete blood profile and urinalysis. An ascetic fluid examination may be required to analyze the fluid in the abdomen. Your vet will be looking out for bacteria, protein build-up, and bleeding. X-rays and ultrasounds may be required to determine the cause of the fluid build up.

With severe cases. your cat’s abdomen may need to be drained to remove the fluid. If a tumor has caused the issue, surgery may be required.
Medication will be used if the underlying cause is due to bacterial infection.

Aggression (rabies)

Rabies has always been a word to strike the fear into the hearts of many. And there’s good reason for it. The viral disease which can affect the spinal cord of all mammals is almost 100% fatal.
Generally, the infection is transmitted by a bite from an infected animal. Or, it can be passed through infected saliva entering your cat’s body through a fresh wound.
Your cat is at higher risk of rabies if exposed to other wild animals such as raccoons, bats, and foxes.
Symptoms can take a while to manifest after the infection. Sometimes taking months to become evident. A change in behavior is usually the first sign.
Other symptoms include:
  • Restlessness
  • Lethargy
  • Increased vocalization
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation
In extreme cases, rabies can lead to sudden death. There is no accurate way for a vet to diagnose a live animal with rabies. And sadly there is no cure for rabies once the symptoms start to appear which is why vaccination is crucial.

Asthma (heartworm, asthma)

Asthma is a chronic inflammation of the passageways in the lungs. This can make it difficult for your cat to breath if left untreated.
Feline asthma isn’t all too dissimilar to how asthma affects us. Yet, as you can imagine, it would be quite hard giving them an inhaler.
There are many triggers for feline asthma, but they tend to boil down to allergens or stress. Triggers can include pollen, dust, smoke, cat litter and food. Cats between the ages of two and eight tend to be the average patients.
Symptoms include:
  • Wheezing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Difficulty or open mouth when breathing
  • Lethargy
  • Throat gurgling
  • Blue lips or gums
If your cat has any of the symptoms above; make an emergency appointment with your vet. If the lungs are left inflamed and untreated your cat may be at the risk of developing permanent scars.
Before an asthma diagnosis is reached, other conditions must be successfully ruled out. Other conditions displaying the same symptoms include heart disease, lungworm, and heartworm.
During a physical examination, your vet will listen to your cat’s chest and may carry out a blood test.
Your cat may need a course of corticosteroids and bronchodilators to treat their asthma.

B

Blood in Stool

It’s a less than pretty subject, yet one that needs to be tackled regardless. There are many reasons why you have found blood in or around your cat’s stool. Thankfully, not all are serious.
Cleaning a litter tray is never a pleasant job, but it never hurts to be vigilant. Acting on early signs of intestinal upset can prevent more serious implications in the future.
Chances are that it was constipation or diarrhea which caused the blood in the stool. However, if the blood is bright red this indicates that the problem is closer to the rectum.
Other causes include:
  • Dietary intolerance’s
  • IBD
  • Worms
  • Intestinal bacterial infection
  • Trauma
  • Abscesses
  • Tumors
  • Cancer
If you see any changes to your cat’s bowel movements contact your vet immediately. Some problems if left untreated may result in an intestinal obstruction. Or if the blood is paired with diarrhea this may lead to dehydration.
Upon consultation, your vet will perform a microscopic fecal evaluation. This will show any parasites or bacteria in the sample or hint towards another cause.

Blood in Urine

Blood or discolored urine is a problem which vets face every day. Thankfully, the conditions which cause the presence of the blood are easily treated.

The two major causes are cystitis and a disorder of the lower urinary tract (FLUTD). A simple urinalysis is all that it takes to diagnose a condition. However, blood tests may be required.

Cystitis is the inflammation of the bladder and is not technically a cause. It’s a broad medical term covering various diseases of the bladder and urethra. Other signs of cystitis include:

  • Increased frequency of urination
  • Difficulty urinating
  • Urinating outside the litter tray
  • Excessive grooming in the genital region

If your cat is completely unable to urinate, this indicates a urethral obstruction. Contact your vet for immediate care.

Causes for cystitis and FLUTD include

  • Trauma
  • Coagulation of the blood
  • Bladder stones
  • Bacterial infection
  • Tumors in the lower urinary tract
  • Inflammatory material and crystals gathering in the urethra

Treatment will depend on the underlying cause for the presence of blood in the urine. Bacterial infections tend to respond well to antibiotics. Whilst idiopathic cystitis may require anti-inflammatory drugs or dietary changes. If your cat has bladder stones they will need to be removed. This can either be done by dissolving the stones through a special diet or surgical removal.

Breathing (Abnormal)

Abnormal breathing in cats is also referred to as Dyspnea. There are many causes for dyspnea, yet whatever the cause, as soon as you notice a change in your cat’s breathing contact a vet.

Just some of the causes include

  • Fluid on the chest
  • Enlarged heart
  • Asthma
  • Heartworm

Panting or labored breathing may be accompanied by:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Hiding
  • Coughing
  • Blue or purple tint to the gums

There is little you can do for your cat at home if they start to breathe abnormally. Which is why you shouldn’t hesitate to get them to a vet ASAP. During transport ensure that stress is minimized and avoid holding your cat. This will only make it harder for your cat to breathe.

Your vet will put your cat on oxygen as soon as you enter the surgery. Once your cat has calmed down, your vet will perform a physical examination including an X-ray. If there is fluid in the lungs, this will need to be removed. But, if the problem seems to be caused by the heart your vet will perform an echocardiogram.

Your cat may need to stay in the surgery for a few days after recovering from the episode. Your cat may require IV fluids to help ease their breathing to a steady rate on top of oxygen.

The recovery rate for cats admitted for urgent respiratory care is fairly high. However, diseases affecting the chest will require long-term or lifelong care.

C

Chewing Skin

Cats may spend a third of their waking hour’s grooming, but excess chewing of the skin may indicate a problem.

If your cat has started to bite clumps out of their fur, or they are causing scabs to appear on the skin this is a clear sign your pet is irritated.

There are many reasons your cat’s skin could become itchy or irritated. Here are some of the most common:

  • Skin allergies
  • Yeast infections
  • Bacterial growth on the surface of the skin
  • Fleas
  • Ringworm
  • Mites

For mild cases of irritation, you can try out home treatments. Some options include:

  • Using parasite preventatives such as flea treatments
  • Bathe your cat (if they will allow it)
  • Keep your pet well groomed

If home treatment is ineffective seek veterinary treatment. Your vet will be able to make recommendations based on a physical exam and your cat’s history. The physical exam may include a skin scrape or an impression smear. Your vet will analyze the skin samples under a microscope to check for signs of bacteria. Once the analysis is complete, your vet may prescribe antibiotics to put an end to the irritation.

If your vet suspects your cat has a food allergy, they may recommend a special diet. This will eliminate proteins your pet may be allergic to.

Choking

Choking is a very rare occurrence in cats and only occurs when something lodges in the larynx or trachea.

When cats choke, they will often paw at their mouths and may begin to drool. This will be as traumatizing for your cat as it is for you to watch, your cat may begin to panic. Their breathing may become labored and they may lose consciousness if the airway is blocked.

The primary cause noted by vets is pieces of cat toys or pieces of splintered bone stuck in the windpipe.

If your cat isn’t too distressed, you can try to examine their mouth. However, chances are your cat won’t allow you to remove whatever is causing the obstruction safely. If your cat is too upset, place them in a carrier and transport them to the vets.

If your cat has lost consciousness follow these steps carefully:

  • Open their mouth, and pull the tongue forward. If you see something lodged in the throat, remove with your fingers or tweezers.
  • If unsuccessful, try the Heimlich maneuver. Lie your cat on their side and placing one hand along their back. Put your other hand on their stomach below the ribs. Rub on your cat’s stomach with several sharp pushes in and up. Check again for foreign objects in the mouth. Close their mouth and give a couple of small breaths through the nose and repeat.
  • If your cat is not breathing after you have removed the foreign object check for a pulse. If you can sense neither your cat will require a veterinarian immediately. In the meantime carry on performing CPR

Even if you are able to resolve the issue at home, contact your vet as the foreign object may have caused damage. Your vet will perform a X-ray to determine if your cat needs aftercare.

Long-term effects are rare. However, the larynx could become damaged in the removal of the foreign object.

Constipation

Second to diarrhea constipation is one of the most frequent digestive issue seen in cats. Cat’s tend to have around at least one bowel movement a day. It’s important to check that these are healthy. If they appear too dry or you’ve noticed your cat straining, it’s a good idea to contact your vet. Constipation can be the result of a urinary disorder which can lead to future complication.

Your cat’s stools may be small or covered in mucus or blood. They may vocalize their discomfort or make unproductive trips to the litter tray. Secondary symptoms include loss of appetite, lethargy, and vomiting.

The main causes of constipation include:

  • Fibre deficiency
  • Dehydration
  • Excessive grooming
  • Abscesses in rectum
  • Ingestion of foreign objects
  • Enlarged prostate gland
  • Tumors
  • Medication side effects
  • Obesity
  • Abnormal colon shape

Constipation is traditionally treated in the following ways:

  • Prescription of stool softeners or laxatives
  • Professional enema to remove toxins
  • Manual bowel evacuation
  • Specialty high-fiber diet
  • Encouraging increased water consumption
  • Encouragement of exercise

Elderly cats are most likely to suffer from constipation. Yet cats of all ages can suffer if they are malnourished or dehydrated

Coughing

Hairballs are the most common reason your cat could be coughing. Yet there are still many other reasons behind the reflex. It is important that you don’t write off your cat coughing on that assumption.

Of course, it’s natural to cough from time to time. However if the coughing becomes a persistent problem, seek advice from your vet.

Cat’s cough for the same reasons we do. The protective reflex rids the respiratory tract from foreign objects, mucus, and irritants. Primarily coughing is caused by irritation or inflammation.

There are many conditions which could be irritating your cat’s respiratory system.

Here are the most common:

  1. Infection
  2. Parasitic diseases
  3. Allergies
  4. Hairballs
  5. Bronchial disease (this can be infectious or non-infectious)
  6. Cardiac disease
  7. Cancer

The nature of your cat’s coughing along with other tests will help to diagnose the cause. For example, if your cat is also sneezing this is a good indicator that they have a respiratory infection. Wheezing whilst breathing is almost a sure sign of asthma. If your cat is losing weight then this may indicate parasites or cancer.

Treatment options for your cat include antibiotics, corticosteroids, and antiparasite drugs.

However, if your cat is coughing due to hairballs, dietary changes can be made. This will allow your cat to pass hairballs easier.

D

Dehydration/Thirst

When your cat becomes dehydrated it is not only a loss of fluids from the body. Your cat will also be losing essential electrolytes such as sodium and potassium. These electrolytes are essential for normal body function.
Your cat may become dehydrated due to a related disease, or simply a lack of water.
You will be able to notice dehydration in cats if their skin is ‘tenting’. In other words, when you pinch the cat’s skin and it doesn’t snap back into place. If this happens, contact your vet immediately.
Also watch out for dry gums, listlessness and a refusal to eat.
Sometimes, dehydration may just be a case of inadequate water intake or water loss. Water loss is often caused by vomiting, diarrhea, heatstroke, and diabetes. Try to encourage your cat to drink more by providing a water fountain. Some cats will only drink from running water whilst others may get fussy about bowls. Always ensure that your cat’s bowl is shallow and wide enough for them to drink comfortably.
Yet, in most cases of dehydration, there is another problem. Which is why you should seek immediate care. Your vet will be able to determine the cause of dehydration after a physical exam and urinalysis.
Depending on the severity of your cat’s dehydration, your vet may admit your cat for the administration of IV fluids. Your vet will also start treatment for the underlying cause of your cat’s dehydration.

Diarrhea

Generally, Diarrhea in cats is not a big issue. Yet, if your cat has had abnormal bowel movements for over 24 hours you may want to consider contacting your vet.
If you’ve recently changed your cat’s food, then this will be a good indicator of why your cat is sick. Some cats have food allergies and can react badly to certain proteins in the food.
If you’re having trouble finding an over the counter diet for your cat ask your vet. Your vet will be able to give you a specialty trial diet.
If no recent dietary changes have been made, then you may want to look to other causes.
The most common causes of diarrhea are IBD and stomach parasites. However, there are more serious causes for diarrhea such as tumors or cancers.
You can help our cat at home by withholding food for 24 hours (never take away their water). Yet, if they’re still making more trips to the litter tray than before or are starting to look lethargic seek help. If your cat’s diarrhea is left untreated they are at risk of becoming dehydrated.

Disorientation

Disorientated behavior from your cat is difficult to watch. It’s also a strong indicator for numerous diseases and disorders. Do not hesitate to take your cat to the vet if they are showing any signs of disorientation.
The possible causes for feline disorientation are:
  • Feline Cognitive Dysfunction which is mainly seen in older cats. There is no cure for the dysfunction, yet treatment can help to make it manageable.
  • Feline Vestibular Disease which is often accompanied by head tilting. This is due to the vestibular system in the ear affecting your cat’s balance due to infection. The infection can be easily treated with antibiotics.
  • Seizures tend to leave your cat feeling disorientated. However, the disorientating effects should only be short-term. If this is the case your vet will have to determine the cause of the seizures.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease which inflames the tissue in the central nervous system. There is no cure for the condition and FIP is nearly always fatal. But your vet can manage the treatment by IV fluids and a specialty diet.
  • Poisoning – if your cat has ingested toxins such as rat poison, it is likely that they will become disorientated. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to poison contact your vet immediately.

Drooling

Whilst it is normal for dogs to drool, it is not normal for your cat to produce excess saliva.
Drooling is usually a clear sign that your cat is under the weather or suffering from a health condition. It is not always immediately obvious if your cat is drooling more than usual. You’ll be able to easily notice if there is a damp spot where they have been or notice wet fur on their chins.
The most common reasons for your cat drooling are:
  • An inability to swallow
  • Emotional stimuli
  • Dental disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Oral cancer
  • Foreign bodies in the mouth of esophagus
Despite it being uncommon for cats to drool, it can all depend on your cat! Some cats tend to drool when they are upset, or even when they are happy. If this is the case, you’ll easily be able to rule out other underlying conditions. If your cat tends to drool more than usual whilst purring this isn’t all too uncommon.
If your cat only tends to drool when they’re asleep, this is just a clear sign of how relaxed they are.

E

Ears: Bleeding

It’s not uncommon for cats to injure their ears in fights or by scratching too aggressively at their ears. Excessive scratching usually is a good indicator that your cat has an infection or ear mites. If left untreated blood-filled abscesses can fool under the skin.
If the blood stems from anywhere other than the ear canal apply direct pressure to the wound. You may want to wrap your cat in a blanket before attempting this. After you’ve stemmed the bleeding manually you may apply a gauze. Depending on the severity you may want to consider taking your cat to get checked over by a vet.
Your vet will give your cat a physical examination. Tests on any fluid or discharge may be carried out to find the cause of the bleeding. More often than not, blood from the ear canal is due to ear mites. Ear mites are visible under a microscope to make for an easy diagnosis.
You will also notice the presence of ear mites through the following symptoms:
  • Scabs
  • Hair loss
  • Discharge in the ear canal
  • Swollen ear
  • Persistent scratching
  • Head shaking

Ears: Discharge

Cats are pretty good at giving us signs when it comes to infection or infestation in the ears. Your cat will generally start to shake their head or scratch at their ears a lot. This will often come alongside black or yellow ear discharge.
Your cat’s ears should be pink, clean, odorless and have very little wax. If your cat shows any abnormal symptoms contact your vet immediately. Never insert a swab or a cotton bud into your cat’s ears yourself if untrained on the procedure.
The most common cause for discharge in a cat’s ears is ear mites. You won’t be able to see the mites yourself. Which is why it is vital to take your cat to a vet before an ear infection occurs.
The second culprit is ear infections. If your cat is suffering from an ear infection this will be extremely uncomfortable for them. If left untreated they can lead to permanent hearing loss. Bacteria, yeast, and foreign debris could all be responsible for an ear infection.
Other potential causes include:
  • Allergies
  • Wax build up
  • Drug reactions
  • Polyps
  • Immune system problems
Treatment options for ear mites include cleaning and prescription for topical medication. Injectable medication is also available. Always ensure you keep cats with ear mites away from healthy pets in your home.
Ear infection treatment will depend on the cause of the infection. Typical prescriptions include antibiotics, immunotherapy, anti-inflammatories and antifungal treatments.

Ears: Excess Wax

If you haven’t noticed by now cat’s are pretty good at cleaning themselves. They’re scrupulous about it in fact. So, for your cat to have a build up of wax, it’s a clear sign they need a little bit of help.

The wax may be accompanied by an unpleasant odor, if this is the case, a trip to the vets is vital. The appearance of wax can be compared to dirt or dried blood. Whilst a little bit of wax never hurt anyone, the cause behind an excess build up will require treatment.

The main causes of wax buildup include allergies, mites, and infection. If left untreated a secondary infection may form. They’ll have enough discomfort from the initial infection, do not delay in seeking help from your vet.

Your vet will make the diagnosis through a blood analysis and examination of the ear canal. The general course of treatment is generally antibiotic medication alongside topical treatment.

You may also need to follow up the treatment with regular cleansing of the ear canal. This will keep them free from the debris, but never place anything into your cat’s ear canal. The safest way to clean your cat’s ears is with medicated drops that are applied directly to the ear.

Ears: Foul Smell

If you’ve noticed a not-so-pleasant odor coming from your cat’s ears, chances are it is being caused by infection or infestation.
Whilst a small amount of wax is absolutely normal, a buildup of wax certainly isn’t. Take a look inside your cat’s ear, if there’s a buildup of brown wax, you may want to contact your vet. There are home treatments available. However, the cause of the odor can only be determined by your vet.
If your cat has an ear infection they will require oral antibiotics to treat the infection. Your vet may also prescribe you with some topical treatment to ease the infection if one is present.
A less likely cause of the foul odor is a ruptured abscess. Abscesses can form from injuries picked up from fighting with other animals. The wounds can develop a lump filled with pus and other infected fluids. You may not notice the abscesses presence until it ruptures and starts to drain. The drainage can be done from home, however, if you have any questions, ask your vet.

Ears: Scratching

When it comes to cat’s ears, the most common problem by far is ear mites.
Ear mites can cause a buildup of wax which leads to odor and infection. This will leave your cat spending a considerable amount of time scratching away.
Mites will not be visible to the naked eye, so if you suspect that your cat has an issue with their ears contact your vet. The mites will be visible under a microscope, then your vet will be able to prescribe topical treatments.
If your cat’s ear scratching is caused by an infection, they will require antibiotics to ensure that the infection isn’t left to worsen over time. It is not uncommon for ear infections that go untreated to result in a permanent loss of hearing.
Ear mites are extremely infectious, so, if you have more than one cat in your household, chances are you’ll need to take them all to be treated. This will limit the chances of a repeat infestation.

Ears: Swollen

If your cat’s ear has become swollen then they may have an aural hematoma. These tend to occur when blood gathers in the flap (the pinna) of the ear.
Every case is different, so the swelling may affect one or both ears. The swelling may affect the entire ear or only affect the ear partially.
The primary cause of hematomas is an ear mite infestation. It’s not surprising to find out that ear mites cause irritation to the ear. Your cat will let you know that they’re irritated by the constant shaking of the head. Your cat may also be scratching away at the ear causing further damage.
Less common reasons why your cat’s ear has become swollen include:
  • Skin allergies
  • Immune disorders
  • Blood clotting deficits
It’s recommended that you see your vet as soon as you notice the swelling. A simple physical examination will help your vet reach an easy diagnosis.
To treat the swelling, your vet will need to drain the hematoma. This can be done as a non-surgical procedure, yet there’s no saying how many treatments your cat will need. Many vets prefer to lance and drain the hematoma whilst your cat is under anesthetic.

Eyes: Discharge

If your cat’s eyes are anything but bright and clear, that’s an evident sign that there’s a problem. Your cat may give you a few more clues by rubbing their eyes.
The causes of eye discharge are numerous, it’s not easy to predict the severity without an accurate diagnosis.
The most common causes are:
  • Feline upper respiratory infections which produce a sticky discharge.
  • Conjunctivitis, this may affect one or both eyes. The appearance of the discharge can either be clear and teary or thick and heavy mucus. There will be visible swelling and your cat may have a fever and diarrhea. If you suspect that your cat has conjunctivitis do not hesitate in contacting your vet.
  • Corneal disorders which may cause excessive blinking, cloudiness of the eye and inflammation.
  • Epiphora. A disorder which causes the tear ducts to block due to allergies or viral conjunctivitis
  • Uveitis – Inflammation of the eye’s internal structures. Due to trauma, infection, cancer and immune problems.
  • Dry eye – a chronic lack of tear production resulting in an inflamed cornea.
  • Feline infectious peritonitis
  • Foreign objects in the eye
  • Third eyelid problems
Due to the sheer number of conditions which could lead to discharge in your cat’s eye contact your vet to discuss treatment. Yet the most common treatments include eye medications, antibiotics, steroids, and decongestants. On some occasions, your cat’s eye will be flushed with a saline solution to clear away the infection.

Eyes: Red

If your cat’s eye is red, then that’s a sure sign of some form of inflammation.
Red eye is a condition, that is pretty self-explanatory. It occurs due to excess of blood in the eyelids. This only occurs when the blood vessels expand due to internal or external irritants.
Red eye can affect one or both of your cat’s eyes. The most common causes include:
  • Inflammation of the eyelid, cornea, sclera, iris, conjunctiva or cicilary body.
  • Orbital disease
  • Glaucoma
  • Hemorrhage at the front or within the eye.
  • Systemic disease
Your vet will run full blood works alongside a physical exam and urinalysis to get to the root of the problem. Be prepared to give your vet a thorough account of your cat’s symptoms and health history.
Treatment for red eye in cats will depend on the cause of the disorder. Yet, most cats are able to be treated on an outpatient basis. Your cat may need to wear a surgical collar to prevent trauma to the eye during treatment.

Eyes: Squinting

Some cats may have a mean stare, but it’s never normal for them to squint. Just like us, squinting is a knee-jerk reaction to an irritant being present in the eye.
The source of the irritation may be internal or external. If your cat has had visible problems with their eyes for over 24 hours contact your vet.
With so many conditions that can severely impede your cat’s vision, it’s best not to hang around. Squinting is usually a sign of the presence of conjunctivitis and corneal disease. Conjunctivitis causes inflammation to the pink membrane of the eye and the inner eyelid. The signs of the condition are usually obvious.
Other causes include corneal ulcers, corneal inflammation, and intraocular inflammation.
Alongside the squinting, you may notice mucus or watery discharge around the eye. The color of discharge can vary anywhere from yellow to dark red. Yet with Persian and Himalayan cats it’s not unusual for them to have a darker tear color.
Your vet will explore treatment options with you. There is a myriad of different treatment options based on the cause of the disease and the symptoms. Yet, cat’s with corneal diseases tend to require life-long treatment.

Eyes: Swollen

If your cat’s eye appears to be swollen or ‘bulging’ contact your vet immediately.
The causes of a swollen eye range in severity, the most common amongst them include:
  • Glaucoma
  • Trauma to the eye or skull
  • Eye tumors
  • Conjunctivitis
Your vet will need to complete a full physical examination to determine the cause of the swelling. Courses of treatment vary depending on the cause. Swelling due to conjunctivitis can be easily treated. However, failing to seek immediate care for your cat can result in the loss of their vision.
Do not use any eye drops which haven’t been prescribed by your vet. This can only make matters worse. Yet, you will be able to make them a little more comfortable by applying a sterile saline solution to their eyes to wipe away any discharge which may be present.

Eyes: Tear Staining

Some breeds of cats such as Himalayan cats will naturally have darker tears than other breeds. However, if the stains are brown in color this may indicate an ocular problem. The brown stains are usually due to a build-up of waste products containing iron. This is often a clear sign of a facial yeast infection.
You can prevent bacterial buildup by keeping your cat’s eyes clean. Keep the hair around their eyes trimmed and wash with a sterile saline solution.
If you’ve noticed that this is an ongoing problem with your cat, contact your vet for a thorough exam. There are many causes for your tear staining in cats. Some of them more severe than others. Tear staining can even be in response to stress in the home. Yet the main causes are generally due to infection, poor diet or medication.
Second-hand smoke can also lead to tear staining. It is recommended that you never smoke in the same environment as your pets.

Eyes: Third Eyelid

A little-known fact about cats is that they have not one, but three eyelids. The third eyelid will never be visible unless your cat is experiencing some ocular discomfort.
The third eyelid will be visible in the corner of their eye closest to their nose. You may be able to catch a glimpse of the third eyelid when your cat is particularly sleepy. However, if this is an ongoing issue, take your cat to the vets for a thorough examination.
Your vet will be able to determine whether there is an issue with the eye or eyelid. It is also possible that your cat may be suffering from a range of ocular conditions. If both of the eyes are affected this is a sure sign that your cat is ill and will be experiencing pain and discomfort.
Potential causes include conjunctivitis, corneal ulcers, glaucoma, or growths on the eyelid. Typically the third eyelid will only be visible when inflammation is present. The condition is most commonly seen amongst Burmese cats.

Eyes: Yellow (Jaundice i.e. liver problems)

As your cat is more than likely covered in fur it can be difficult to notice their skin yellowing due to jaundice. But a clear sign will be the yellowing of the eyes.
Jaundice indicates a dangerous level of bilirubin in the blood, this is the cause of the yellow pigmentation. It is more often than not a sign of a serious illness. You can also check your cat’s gums, ears and foot pads for signs of jaundice. If you suspect that your cat may be suffering, take them to the vets as soon as possible.
The treatment will depend on the cause of the jaundice. More often than not jaundice is due to damaged liver cells or bile duct obstruction. For an accurate diagnosis your vet will have to run a full urinalysis and biochemical profile. Additional tests may include a liver biopsy, X-rays or ultrasounds.

F

Face: Swollen

If you’ve noticed that your cat’s face is showing signs of swelling it is not advised that you hesitate in contacting your vet.
The main cause of facial swelling is abscesses, that is of course if you can rule out facial trauma. There are many ways your cat could come about attaining an abscess which causes swelling.
The most frequently reported are injuries are:
  • The infection of facial wounds obtained fighting with other animals.
  • Infection of the teeth or gums.
  • Trauma to the oral cavity through chewing a sharp object.
  • Insect bites
  • Tumors
Even if there are no visible scratches, bite marks or scars on your cats face they may have still picked up an injury. Especially if that injury was from another cat.
Home treatment of an abscess is never advised. Generally, they don’t tend to heal unless your vet drains them in a sterile environment. it is likely that your cat will also need antibiotics to treat the infection too.

Fainting

If your cat has started to faint they may have a medical condition known as syncope. The condition presents itself in cats through a temporary loss of consciousness.
The primary cause of syncope is a temporary interruption of the blood supply to the brain. This causes your cat’s brain to be temporarily deprived of oxygen and other nutrients.
Other causes include:
  • Heart tumors and diseases
  • Emotional stress, trauma or excitement
  • Low concentration of calcium, glucose or sodium
  • Adverse reactions to medication.
To determine the cause of your cat’s syncope the vet will run a blood count, biochemistry profile and urinalysis.
The good news is that the condition is temporary and reversible with the right care. The treatment will depend on the cause, however it is likely that your cat will make a full recovery.

Fever

The only way to accurately determine whether your cat has a fever is to take their temperature.
Usually a cat’s temperature will range from 100.4º to 102.5º Fahrenheit. If your cat’s temperature exceeds 102.5º contact your vet immediately. If your cats temperature reaches 106º F your cat will be at risk of intestinal damage.
Causes of fever in cats include:
  • Heatstroke
  • Fungal, viral or bacterial infection
  • Tumors
  • Adverse reaction to medication
  • Trauma
  • Lupus
Yet, it’s not uncommon for cats to have an idiopathic fever. This is referred to as FUO.
Alongside a rise in body temperature, your cat may also have:
  • A loss of appetite
  • Lethargy
  • Reluctance to drink
  • Shivering
  • Rapid breathing
  • Sneezing
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
Your cat may not like you very much for taking their temperature with a rectal pediatric thermometer. Yet, this is the only way to determine if they have a fever. If your cat is non-compliant contact your vet to help with a physical examination. If you have already registered a high temperature for over 24 hours you’ll also need to contact your vet. It is important that the underlying problem is treated as soon as possible. Your cat may need antibiotics or administration of IV fluids.

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Gagging

The most likely cause of your cat’s gagging is hairballs. If your cat is a prolific groomer there will be an excess of hair rubbing against the stomach lining. This will cause an irritation in the stomach and prompt the gagging reflex.
Cats will also gag if they have an itchy throat or a foreign object lodged in their throat. If your cat has been gagging for over 24 hours consistently contact your vet for a diagnosis. As whilst gagging is not usually a cause for concern, it can also indicate a serious medical issue.
Other common causes include:
  • Bronchial or upper respiratory infection
  • Excess mucus or obstruction in the nasal passage or throat
  • Bacterial infection
  • Benign or cancerous tumors
  • Dental disease
  • Gastrointestinal disease
Due to the range of causes, you’ll need to contact your vet to explore treatment options. Yet, you can help to prevent hairballs and gagging at home with dietary changes and aiding your cat when it comes to grooming.

Gas

Flatulence in cats isn’t all too common. If you’ve noticed that your cat is having a few gastrointestinal problems this is usually a sign that dietary changes will need to be made.
Generally, the causes of excess gas are:
  • Food fermenting in the digestive tract
  • Lactose intolerance
  • Excess wheat, soybeans, corn or fiber in the diet
  • Swallowing air after eating too much or eating too fast
  • Disorders of the stomach, colon or small intestine.
  • Poor food absorption
  • Ingestion of spoiled food
  • Hairballs
  • Intestinal parasites
  • IBS
It is important to differentiate between normal gas and excessive gas. Excessive gas tends to carry a particularly pungent odor and will be a clear sign your cat is experiencing discomfort. However 99% of intestinal gas is odorless. So, you may have to look out for additional signs.
These signs may include:
  • Rumbling in the stomach
  • Distended abdomen
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
If the issue has been ongoing and home regulation of your cat’s diet isn’t working, contact your vet. Your vet will be able to check your cat over for any underlying causes and be able to advise you on a better diet. Diagnostics may include blood work, urinalysis, fecal examination and radiographs of the abdomen.

Glands: Swollen (FIV)

FIV is one of the most serious conditions a cat can be diagnosed with. It’s extremely contagious, which explains the comparison to the AIDS virus in people. There is no risk of people catching the infection, however, it is easily spread amongst unvaccinated cats.
FIV infects the white blood cells which are the backbone of the immune system. This will lead to the blood cells being damaged and your cat being at greater risk of other disease or infection. Whilst there is evidence that FIV does not shorten the lifespan, your cat will still need auto-immunotherapy to strengthen their immune system.
There is no cure for FIV, and the symptoms may take a few months to fully develop. The first sign will be a mild fever and swollen lymph nodes. Yet, your cat will start to develop a fever, lethargy and a poor appetite within a few months. The virus isn’t detectable within the blood for up to 12 weeks after exposure. If you’re worried that your cat has picked up the infection through a fight, wait for at least 12 weeks before asking for a blood test. However, if you are concerned about your cat’s health contact your vet.
Infection usually occurs due to cat fights or by being born to an infected mother. There is a small chance that FIV can spread through sharing food and water bowls, or by cats grooming each other.
If your cat tests positive for FIV you have a responsibility to keep them indoors and away from other cats.

Grooming Excessively

Cats spend one-third of their time awake grooming. However, when grooming leads to bald spots in their fur or even the formation of scabs this is a sign your cat is uncomfortable.
Excessive grooming is also known as psychogenic alopecia. This condition is characterized by obsessive grooming which your cat uses as a coping mechanism. If your cat is feeling stressed, they may lick themselves to release endorphins.
Before your vet diagnoses psychogenic alopecia other causes must be ruled out. Other causes may include allergies, fleas, parasites and neurological problems.
To help ease your cat’s anxiety or stress make sure you stick to a daily routine. Predictability and consistency will make them feel more comfortable. Causes of stress include relocation, the introduction of another cat or even the relocation of a litter box. So make sure your cat knows where to go for their food and the litter tray. In addition, ensure that you have enriched their environment. This will include giving them hiding spaces or boxes, perches and scratching surfaces.
You’ll also need to ensure you are spending enough time with your cats. They may not seem like they need much emotional attention, yet psychogenic alopecia can prove otherwise.
If excessive grooming has become a long-term problem contact your vet. Or you may want to consider using a feline facial pheromone spray.

H

Hairballs

If you own a cat, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll have to deal with hairballs. Whilst it isn’t pleasant to clean up, they are usually no immediate sign that your cat is unwell. The Hairballs accumulate after grooming and ingestion of fur. The fur will then aggravate the stomach lining and give your cat the impulse to vomit.

Hairballs tend to be a more common problem with cats with longer or thicker hair. But if you’ve noticed your cat has been passing more hairballs than recently then you may want to think about switching their food. There are now special diets available which will help your cat to deal with hairballs a little easier and will also aid digestion. You can also reduce the frequency of hairballs by grooming your cat regularly to remove excess hair and try to discourage excessive grooming. Provide plenty of stimulation for your cats especially if they are indoor cats.

If your cat is also gagging excessively, has a lack of appetite or has become lethargic then this may indicate a more serious health problem. Don’t hesitate in contacting your vet for advice.

Head: Swollen

If your cats head appears to be swollen, then the chances are the cause for the swelling is potentially life threatening and you should make no hesitation in contacting your vet.

The main cause of swelling in the cranial area is trauma such as being involved in a road traffic collision. Whilst cats are pretty good at bouncing back from accidents you will still need to take your cat to the vet for them to run a full physical examination and assess the extent of the damage.

Other possible causes of swelling of the head or face include:

  • Benign or malignant tumours.
  • Infection
  • Dental abscess
  • Allergic reactions
  • Snake bites
  • Ulcers
  • Conjunctivitis

For the best prognosis and treatment options to get your cat back happy and healthy contact your vet for advice on the best course of treatment.

Head: Shaking

If you’ve noticed your cat shaking their head continuously or compulsively then this is usually a sure indicator that they are suffering from some form of irritation. Generally, headshaking is caused by ear mites, fleas or debris which have become lodged in the ear canal. Other possible causes include ear infections and allergies.

As there are many potential causes, contact your vet if you have noticed that the headshaking has become a typical behaviour.

Other signs that your cat has a problem with their ears include:

  • Scratching or pawing at the outer ear
  • Your cat is tilting their head to the side
  • Loss of orientation or balance
  • Black or yellow discharge coming from the ears
  • Hearing loss
  • Bleeding through the ears.

With ear mites being the most common cause of head shaking the treatment will be relatively short-term and simple. You will be able to help keep your cats outer ears clean by wiping away excess ear wax or debris with a cotton wool pad. However NEVER insert anything into your cat’s ear canal without the appropriate training. This will often do more harm than good.

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Incontinence

Generally incontinence is only seen in senior cats. Always remember that incontinence is not a behavioural problem. Incontinence is a medical issue which means they won’t always be able to make it to the litter tray in time. NEVER attempt to punish an incontinent cat. This will only lead to them becoming scared and confused.

The main causes of incontinence are:

  • Diabetes – feline diabetes will also be recognisable due to the excess intake of water
  • Scarred Bladder – Your cat’s bladder can become scarred due to an untreated urinary infection
  • Urinary tract infections – you will usually notice your cat straining a lot when passing urine
  • Kidney stones – Your cat may also be passing blood and be experiencing pain in the abdomen.
  • Bacterial bladder infection – also known as cystitis which is common in cats over the age of 10.
  • Old age – the inability to make the litter tray is often the first sign of senility.

If your cat is showing any sign of difficulty whilst passing urine or they aren’t quite making it to the litter tray like they used to, schedule an appointment with your vet. If there is any sign of infection this will need to be treated via a course of antibiotics to prevent secondary conditions from forming.

Alongside seeking veterinary care for your cat ensure that you are keeping the litter tray clean and appealing to use. If you live in a multi-cat household then you will need to make sure that you have the appropriate number of trays between your cats. Where possible never move the litter trays, this could add a significant amount of stress to your cat’s daily routine.

Increase in Appetite

If you’ve noticed that your cat is always hungry, there is potentially an underlying medical cause to their increase in appetite. An increase in appetite is also referred to as Polyphagia which makes your cat appear ravenous.

There are multiple causes for the condition, which includes both psychological conditions and diseases.  The Polyphagia is due to a psychological problem this could easily lead to obesity. Which is similar to when human’s start to overeat due to stress or depression. However, if the increase in appetite is paired with weight loss, this is a clear sign that your cat will need to see a vet sooner rather than later.

Cats also tend to have a larger appetite as they age. It is not uncommon for senior cats to be extremely hungry. A cat’s appetite may also increase as a side effect to medication or due to diabetes, IBS, insufficient amounts of insulin in the blood or intestinal cancer. Each of these cases will mean that your cat’s body is unable to absorb food properly and they will be missing out on vital nutrients. To get to the root of the problem, take your cat to the vet for a physical exam. Blood tests, urinalysis, radiographic imaging and endoscopy’s may be required for an accurate diagnosis.

Itching Excessively

The two main causes of cats itching excessively are flea infestation and allergies. Whilst a flea infestation is easy to spot, figuring out what your cat is allergic to can be infinitely harder.

Cats can be allergic to practically anything in their living environment, or allergic to certain proteins in their food. Therefore, the best way to get to the root of the problem is to rule out a flea infestation first. If your cat does have fleas you may have started to notice bald patches and scabs forming on their skin from over-grooming.

Your cat may choose to itch excessively with their paws, or by chewing at their skin to resolve the itch. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether excessive itching is due to a psychological problem or a medical condition. Cats tend to overgroom if they are under any amount of stress to release serotonin through the grooming process.

If your cat is notably distressed, do not hesitate in taking your cat to the vets to diagnose the condition and find the cause. The first practical step to eliminating causes will be by looking at your cat’s diet. Your vet may give you a trial diet to try with your cat to see if the itching subsides. If you still see no improvement your cat may require autoimmune therapy to be able to handle environmental allergens.

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K

L

Lameness

Lameness is generally due to injury instead of disease, however illness can only be ruled out as a cause by your vet. If you’ve noticed that your cat has suddenly lost mobility in any capacity do not hesitate in contacting your vet. If your cat has started to limp, immediate treatment will be required to prevent further muscle or nerve damage.

If your cat has been involved in an accident, the limb may start to appear swollen and unusual. More often than not, the pain that they will be in will be visible.

If you notice any of these symptoms your vet will require immediate attention:

  • Stiffness
  • Loss of mobility
  • Increased vocalisation
  • Decrease in appetite
  • Limping
  • Lethargy
  • Refusal to put weight on the limb

Alongside trauma, other causes of lameness include:

  • Tendonitis
  • Inflamed muscle
  • Animal bites
  • Footpad disease
  • Spinal injury
  • Nerve damage
  • Osteoarthritis
  • Infection
  • Bone cancer
  • Fungal infection
  • Minor stroke
  • Poor nutrition

Unless you know the exact cause of the lameness your vet will have to run bloodwork on your cat to get to the cause of the lameness. Your cat may need surgery to treat the lameness. The worst-case scenario may mean you need to consider amputation, however, many cats can go on to live happy and healthy lives three-legged.

Limping/Difficulty Walking (soft tissue injury, heartworm, ingrown nail)

If your cat is having difficulty walking but you can rule out trauma as a cause, there are many other less common causes to consider.

One of these causes is heartworm. Alongside the limping you may also notice that your cat has lumps or swelling under the skin, abnormal appetite, stiffness, headshaking, excessive scratching, is showing signs of fatigue and has bad breath. Heartworm is a preventable, yet deadly disease. If your cat is showing any signs of the condition do not hesitate in making an appointment with your vet.

If your cat has started limping and has no other symptoms or obvious injury, they may have an ingrown nail. Just like us, a cat’s nails or claws can grow inwards. This will mean the nail penetrates the pad, which I’m sure you can imagine is excruciating for your cat. Generally, a cat’s nails will become ingrown if the nails aren’t regularly trimmed or if your cat doesn’t get enough outdoor exercise. If your cat is repeatedly having problems with their nails, then take this as a sign that you need to get more involved with your cat’s health care.

It is generally the dew claw which becomes affected by ingrown nails, if this is the case, your vet will talk to you about removing the problematic nail. Whilst declawing cats is entirely unnecessary the removal of a problematic claw is perfectly acceptable as a treatment method.

Lumps on/under the Skin

Lumps under the skin are rarely a good sign, if you have noticed any under your cat’s fur contact your vet immediately. There are also many causes to lumps on the skin and only your vet will be able to make an accurate diagnosis.

Causes of lumps include infection, parasites and even more serious medical problems. Causes listed by commonality include:

  • Mild trauma – caused by cat fights or accidents around the home. Your cat may need an X-ray or ultrasound to assess the cause of the problem.
  • Abscesses – swollen spots on the skin which may form where your cat has received an injury. The abscess may require draining by your vet followed up with a short course of antibiotic treatment.
  • Tumors – these will often be referred to as lipomas and can show up anywhere on your cat’s body. Whilst these forms of tumor aren’t cancerous they may still need to be removed by your vet.
  • Mast Cell Tumors – Around 10% of these types of tumors are cancerous. They will generally appear around your cat’s head or neck and will be visibly red and sore.
  • Fibrosarcomas – Are a form of tumor that are likely to be cancerous. The general course of treatment is removing the tumor and infected tissue. If the tumor appears on your cat’s breast tissue the whole mammary gland will need to be removed.
  • Acne – Just like us, your cat can get acne. With feline acne you will feel small lumps under the skin which are blackheads. Generally acne goes unnoticed and only becomes perceptible when they become infected. If this is the case, you will be able to use special wipes to wipe away excess oil from your cat’s skin.
  • Ticks – Even indoor cats can be at risk of being bitten with ticks. Ticks can travel from the outside on our clothes or footwear. If a tick makes its way to your cat’s skin, it will imbed in the skin whilst feeding and cause a noticeable lump. Your vet will need to safely remove the tick. Don’t try this at home. You may end up leaving the mouthpart behind.
  • Bug bites or stings – It’s not only us that get bitten by mosquitos or stung by wasps! The most common form of bite you will notice on your cat is flea bites. Some cats are allergic to flea bites and can cause quite the rash. Flea prevention and treatment is available at home, but if your cat is starting to suffer due to a flea infestation, contact your vet for help.

Loss of Appetite

A loss of appetite is a symptom of many medical and psychological problems. With the causes being anything from stress to tumors it is important that you don’t play the guessing game with the reason for your cat’s lack of appetite.

Any abnormal changes to your cat’s diet should be reported to your vet if they extend over the duration of 72 hours. It is quite possible that your cat is just feeling a little run down, it happens to us all from time to time. Only your vet will be able to accurately diagnose the cause of the problem. Alongside a physical exam where their weight will be examined, your vet may need to ruin a full analysis on blood, urine and fecal matter.

You can try to encourage your cat to eat at home yourself by providing wet food as opposed to dry kibble. Always make sure that your cat’s food bowls are in a quiet place and feed your cat in multiple servings throughout the day. If you live in a multi-cat home, consider feeding your cats separately. Competition may put your cat off venturing to the food bowl.

It is also worth noting that how much your cat needs to eat depends on your cat’s age. Ensure that you follow the nutrition guidelines on your cat’s food which is appropriate to their age and weight.

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Mouth: Bad Breath – Rotten Smell & Tooth Decay

If you cat has bad breath (halitosis) it’s fairly obvious to notice. Now considering that your cat doesn’t have a toothbrush and access to toothpaste you can never expect your cat’s breath to be fresh. Yet your cat’s breath should never smell pungent.

Tooth decay often leads to a cat’s breath smelling rotten. This is due to the decay of the actual tooth, or the tissue which surrounds the tooth. Tooth decay is extremely common in cats especially in cats over the age of five. Over 50% of cats over 5 years of age will have had at least one experience of tooth decay in their time.

It can be hard to give your cat a full dental examination at home. Which is why it is important to take them to the vets regularly to allow your vet to complete a full physical examination. If you’ve ever experienced dental pain yourself, you’ll know it’s not something you can live with for long before seeking treatment. Alongside the halitosis, you may also notice your cat has started to dribble, has difficulty chewing or they are bleeding from their mouths.

Depending on the severity of the decay your cat’s tooth may need to be removed.

Mouth: Bad Breath – Ammonia & Kidney Disease

If you cat has bad breath (halitosis) it’s fairly obvious to notice. Now considering that your cat doesn’t have a toothbrush and access to toothpaste you can never expect your cat’s breath to be fresh. Yet your cat’s breath should never smell pungent.

Tooth decay often leads to a cat’s breath smelling rotten. This is due to the decay of the actual tooth, or the tissue which surrounds the tooth. Tooth decay is extremely common in cat’s especially in cats over the age of five. Over 50% of cats over 5 years of age will have had at least one experience of tooth decay in their time.

It can be hard to give your cat a full dental examination at home. Which is why it is important to take them to the vets regularly to allow your vet to complete a full physical examination. If you’ve ever experienced dental pain yourself, you’ll know it’s not something you can live with for long before seeking treatment. Alongside the halitosis, you may also notice your cat has started to dribble, has difficulty chewing or they are bleeding from their mouths.

Depending on the severity of the decay your cat’s tooth may need to be removed.

Mouth: Bad Breath – Ammonia & Kidney Disease

The second most common cause of halitosis in cats is kidney disease. The odor coming from your cat’s mouth will be very different to if they have tooth decay. Kidney disease is often spotted due to a harsh ammonia smell coming from their mouths (a smell not too dissimilar to their litter tray).

Halitosis is not a condition that you’ll want to take lightly, whatever the cause bad breath is a red flag to your cat’s health which indicates they will require immediate attention. Your vet is the only person that will be able to accurately diagnose the cause for your bad breath. This will be done by looking for any obvious dental issues such as a build up of plaque or broken teeth. Once dental disease has been ruled out, your vet will want to run a urinalysis to check for signs of kidney, liver or other intestinal diseases. Whilst many diseases of the kidney are treatable, you’ll want to make sure that they are tended to as soon as possible to avoid the progression of the disease.

Mouth: Swallowing

If your cat is having difficulty or has completely lost the ability to swallow contact your vet immediately. The cause behind their difficulty can be due to a number of factors which range in severity. However, an inability to swallow is a red flag that should never be ignored.

The condition is referred to by vets as oral dysphagia. The condition is mainly due to dental disease, paralysis of the tongue or swelling of the chewing muscles.

You’ll usually see your cat start to eat a little abnormally. Instead of chewing the food, they will take the food in their mouth and throw their head backwards or sideways to allow the food to travel down their oesophagus. This may cause your cat to gag, or even produce saliva or a mucus discharge from their noses.

There are many causes which can trigger the condition which includes:

  • Abscesses
  • Inflammatory growths
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Cancer
  • Foreign bodies lodged in the mouth or throat
  • Lower jaw fractures
  • Trauma or injury to the mouth or face
  • Rabies

To get to the root of the problem, your vet will run your cat’s bloodwork and perform a urinalysis to check for abnormalities. However, if their inability to swallow stems from trauma or injury, your vet will run X-rays to see the extent of the problem. Treatments will vary depending on the cause of your cat’s swallowing problems.

If you have noticed any changes in their eating behaviour which have lasted for over 24 hours, do not hesitate in making an appointment with your vet. Be prepared with a full list of their medical history along with details of any other symptoms they may have been exhibiting.

Mouth: Ulcers

Cats don’t tend to make it all that easy to look inside their mouths. So, it’s no surprise that may cats suffer from mouth ulcers without their owners knowing.

The primary cause of oral ulcers in cats is a build up of plaque in the mouth. Plaque is only allowed to gather in your cat’s mouth as a result of poor oral hygiene. Your cat’s oral hygiene should never get to the point where your cat is experiencing discomfort. Which is why 6 monthly check ups with your vet are vital to ensuring your cat is as happy and healthy as you believe them to be.

Aside from poor oral hygiene, feline oral ulcers can be caused by Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or Feline Leukaemia Virus. Without timely-administered treatment these viruses can quickly become unmanageable.

As you may not be able to see evidence of the ulcers, look out for the following symptoms that may indicate their presence:

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen gums
  • Ropey or thick saliva
  • Loss of appetite
  • Exposed bone where the gum should cover

Your vet will determine the cause of the ulcers by running a thorough physical examination. For an accurate diagnosis a blood count will need to be taken alongside a urinalysis and a chemical blood profile. Treatment will depend on the cause of the ulcers. Yet, it is not uncommon for nutritional therapy and oral hygiene treatments to be offered to aid your cat’s recovery. If there is a bacterial infection or virus, your cat will requite antibiotics to eliminate the infection.

To prevent mouth ulcers occurring, your cat may require routine cleaning appointments with a hygienist which may be required every two months to stay on top of the condition.

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Nails: Malformed Shape (onychomycosis, i.e.nail fungus)

Considering that your cat potters around your home, it is in your best interest and theirs to get nail fungus under control. It is easily spotted, cats aren’t shy about showing us their footpads. So, if you notice an oddly-coloured growth on or around your cat’s nail there’s a good chance that it will be nail fungus. Which, you guessed it, is due to a fungal infection. Cats who have previously injured their nails are much more prone to infection. Which means cats who venture outdoors will also be of more risk. Not only for their ability to get into cat fights or experience other forms of trauma, but due to the exposure to moist environments.

Don’t hesitate in contacting your vet if you have notice feline fungal nail infection. Avoid trimming your cat’s nails until you have sought a professional opinion on the condition.

Feline fungal nail infection is also referred to as onychomycosis. Onychomycosis may be an indicator to immune system disease and other internal health problems. If the disease is present your cat may lick or bite their paws more than usual. You may also notice that your cat is in pain while they are walking.

Treatment options generally involve over-the-counter treatments. If home-treatment or over-the-counter treatments aren’t effective, your vet will be able to supply you with a stronger medicated ointment. If your cat appears to be in significant amounts of pain, medication to prevent inflammation may be prescribed.

However, you can help your cat at home by clearing away nail debris and dirt. Simply wash your cat’s paws in warm water to remove the loose material and fungus.

Nose: Bleeding

Feline nosebleeds are also referred to as Epistaxis. The condition can be highly disturbing to witness as an owner and it’s no field day for your cat either.

Most acute cases are caused by trauma or upper respiratory tract infections, yet other causes can be more serious and will require immediate treatment.

Generally, nosebleeds are accompanied by a high blood pressure. Therefore, it is imperative that you keep your cat as calm as possible if their nose starts to bleed. Causing them any amount of stress will only make the bleeding worse. If your cat will allow it, you can place an icepack on your cat’s nose to constrict the blood vessels and ultimately stem the bleeding.

If there is an excessive loss of blood, or you haven’t been able to stem the blood contact your vet immediately. Your cat could start having difficulty breathing.

Nose: Congestion (URI)

Nose: Discharge (URI, could be healthy)

Not Eating (See: Refusing to Eat)

O

P

Paralysis

Poisoning

Purring Constantly

Q

R

Refusing to Eat

Regurgitation

Restlessness

S

Seizures

Shedding

Skin: Dandruff (ringworm)

Skin: Darkened (ringworm)

Skin: Hair Loss (ringworm, circular appearance)

Skin: Sores

Stool: Strong Odor (giardia, cosymptom with diarrhea)

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U

Urination: Excessive

Urination: Inability

Urination: Painful

V

Vocalization

W

Watery Eyes

Weakness

Weight Loss

X

Y

Z

Diagnosis of Conditions

Bear in mind that diagnosis can’t be made simply by matching one or two symptoms to your cat’s illness. Illnesses are varied, but some have very similar symptoms to others. It’s therefore very easy to mistake one condition for another, which can have severe negative consequences. For a better diagnosis, research each potential condition through the Catmart blog. And, for absolute certainty, always speak with your cat’s vet.

Sources: https://pets.webmd.com/cats/symptoms