How to Tell if Your Cat Is Sick

By: Shanna Freeman & Dr. H. Ellen Whiteley  | 
sick cat
Is your cat just sleeping a lot, or is she really sick? NurPhoto/Getty Images

Unfortunately, cats are notorious for trying to hide their illnesses. All too often, pet parents don't realize that something is wrong with their feline friend's health until it's serious. Obviously, a cat can't explain to you what’s making him feel ill — it’s hard for humans to decipher those meows and purrs to get an idea of what's going on inside. But in many ways you might otherwise overlook, your cat is making clear statements about his health.

While there's no substitute for the advice of your veterinarian (and you shouldn't hesitate to call a vet with your concerns), you can gauge your cat's health by paying close attention to his behavior and appearance. This includes making a general once-over part of your routine, perhaps by working it into grooming or another regular activity. That way you can find out what's normal for your cat and potentially catch minor problems or illnesses before they become major ones. There are also warning signs that might tell you there's something that warrants further investigation.


If you decide that a visit to the vet is in order, you can provide crucial information that will help your vet make a diagnosis. Often a cat will "act funny" at home, but he'll be so nervous at the vet's office that he won't do anything. The more accurate your report, the better your vet can determine what's going on. And since describing your cat's condition as "funny" or "sick" is a little too vague, you need to be specific.

In this article, you'll learn how to get a sense of your cat's health, how to recognize important indicators of potential problems and the best ways to share your findings with your vet. Read on to find out how what your cat eats (and how often he uses the litter box) can shed light on his health.