In cats, physical illness and pain are most often recognized on the basis of a non-specific change in behavior.  A well-informed, responsible and caring cat owner needs to stay aware of the need to contact their cat’s veterinarian not only for physical health, but also as soon as indications of anxiety, fear, or behavior that is unacceptable or different from their cat’s normal behavior is observed.  Sometimes a serious underlying medical problem may be a cause of a behavior change.  For example, your cat stops using her litter box.  She could have one of several physical problems like feline lower urinary tract disease [interstitial cyctitis] or even arthritis, which can make climbing into the litter box too difficult.

Cats tend to hide and oftentimes stop eating when they have something physically wrong with them.  They hide the fact that something is wrong.  Signs of illness or injury alerts their enemies that they are vulnerable to attack, so they usually won’t outwardly display that something is wrong, unless it has become very serious.  Therefore, you need to watch your cat closely for any changes in her daily behavior.

Consult your veterinarian as soon as something doesn’t fit your cat’s norm.   Even bad breath needs a veterinarian’s attention.  Dental problems and diabetes, to name a couple of problems, could be the cause.  It is far better to call your veterinarian and find out everything is okay, than to wait until your cat is so ill or injured that medical assistance cannot help anymore.

When petting or grooming your cat, check her for any problems.  The earlier you detect anything, the easier it will be for your veterinarian to treat your cat successfully.


  • The ears should be clean and dry, no dark brown substance in the ears (or any other type of discharge).
  • The eyes should be bright and clear, no watery appearance.  The third eyelid (or haw) should not be showing.
  • Her breath should be fresh-smelling and her teeth should be clean-looking with the gums not red or swollen, or too pale.
  • Your cat should be free of cuts about her body and paws.
  • Search for any lumps or bumps on your cat that could signal an abscess or tumor (most tumors are benign, but your veterinarian needs to determine this).  Abscesses (an infection from a bite or wound) are painful and can be very serious.  A veterinarian’s attention is required.
  • Check your cat’s rear end.  It should be clean and healthy with no signs of inflammation or dried feces.

Your cat keeps a fairly regular routine, so by observing her you may be able to detect any problems.


  • Change in her everyday routine.  Your playful cat no longer enjoys playing.
  • Listlessness.  Sleeps much more than usual, both day and night.
  • Behavioral changes.  Your cat starts hiding out or becomes aggressive.
  • Excessive scratching of herself (she could have fleas or ear mites if the scratching is about the head and ears).
  • Excessive grooming.
  • Your cat’s coat becomes matted, dull, or greasy to touch, due to a lack of grooming.
  • Decreased appetite and weight loss.
  • Increased appetite and weight gain.
  • Increased thirst.
  • Diarrhea.
  • Constipation.
  • Blood in stool or urine.
  • Increased urination.
  • Straining while urinating.
  • Vomiting more than two or three times daily.
  • Bad breath.  This could signal a dental problem or another underlying health issue.
  • Sneezing and coughing.
  • Watery, runny eyes.
  • Dull coat.
  • Dandruff (she could have skin mites).
  • Changes in vocalization. Your cat starts to howl and talk louder, and more often.


Watch for any changes out of the ordinary in your cat.  Check your cat out on a weekly basis.  Call your veterinarian.  Let the veterinarian decide if a problem exists.  An annual veterinarian check is.