Offers & Promotions

Coupon Codes: $5 off $50 - Enter "SAVE5" at checkout or $2 off $25 - Enter "SAVE2" at Checkout - Limit One Per Month Of Each



Subtle ways your cat lets you know they are not feeling well
by Jodi Ziskin

Among the many cat myths people believe – that they always land on their feet, that they have nine lives, etc. – there is one that can be especially harmful; that cats can take care of themselves.

According to Dr. Jane Brunt of the CATalyst Council:
Many people hold the misconception that cats can take care of themselves. In fact, cats rely on us for many things including food, water, shelter and freedom from illness, pain and distress.

Cats communicate how they feel through many actions. Learning to recognize the signals of distress or ill health can make a significant difference between a happy, healthy cat and one who is needlessly suffering.

Here are a few subtle ways your cat may express ill health or discomfort:

  • Drinking excessive amounts of water or drinking from the toilet. Increased thirst is a symptom of many feline disorders including kidney disease and diabetes 
  • Shaking of the head or scratching of the ears. Your cat may be telling you she has an ear infection, allergies or even gum disease
  • Sneezing and coughing. Besides the obvious signs of respiratory infection, cats often sneeze and cough if they are experiencing dental problems.
  • Stops grooming. Grooming is a very natural instinct. If your cat stops – and you will know by their dull coat or dirty or greasy fur – this can be a sign of serious health problems.
  • Hypervocalization. If your cat is normally on the quiet side and starts talking up a storm or if the volume of her meows noticeably increases, she may be feeling ill.

In addition, the experts at Hollywood Animal Hospital (HAH) in Hollywood, Florida emphasize that sudden behavior changes can be a sign of underlying problems. They call it ADR (Ain’t Doin’ Right) and that can be anything out of the ordinary, like whining excessively, a normally docile cat becoming aggressive, pacing around, disoriented behavior, etc. You know your cat best – if she is experiencing anything you would consider ADR, it is time to call your vet.

HAH also emphasized that immediate medical attention should be sought for the very obvious signs of sickness or injury including:

  • Bleeding from any part of the body or blood in the feces or urine
  • Repeated episodes of vomiting or diarrhea over a short period of time
  • Violent or mild shaking of the head and/or body, uncontrolled spasms
  • Lack of energy or playfulness
  • Intolerant of exercise
  • Limping or favoring of any limbs
  • Crying or showing signs of pain
  • Refusing food or having less or more of an appetite than usual
  • Straining to or unable to urinate
  • Unwarranted coughing or shortness of breath
  • Fainting
  • Very pale pink color or bluish tint of the gums and/or tongue
  • Dramatic or unexplained loss in body weight
  • A new lump or bump that has rapidly grown
  • A lump that is bleeding or has discharge
  • Redness, discharge, squinting or any odd appearance of the eye
  • Frequent scratching or biting on any part of the body
  • Repeatedly shaking or tilting of the head

To contact Jodi directly, visit

This article was published on Thursday 29 July, 2010.

Tell a friend
Tell a friend about this article: