Cats tend to hide the fact they are sick because of their instinct to protect themselves when they are feeling vulnerable. Very often the signs they are ill are so subtle it makes it hard to pick up on the fact something is wrong and even vets find it difficult to diagnose a condition before recommending a treatment. However, when an emergency does happen and symptoms are obvious, getting a cat to the vet as a matter of urgency could save their lives.
Although some symptoms of an illness may be vague, you should never blame yourself for not recognising your pet might be ill. However, if you notice even the smallest change in their behaviour, it is better to be safe rather than sorry and to have your pet examined by a vet to see if they can identify what's wrong. With this said, there are certain things cat owners can check to see if their pets are off colour which includes the following:
Checking the colour of a cat's gums – if they are pale, a strange grey or blue colour or if they are very red, the chances are your cat is very sick and would need to see a vet sooner rather than later.
Strange coloured faeces – if you find one or two lots of strange coloured faeces in your pet's litter tray, this is not too much to worry about. However, if they poo is strange coloured or very watery for a day or more, a quick trip to the vet is in order so tests can be carried out to find out what is wrong.
A problem with their breathing – any animal whether it's a cat or other that has difficulty breathing needs to see a vet as a matter of urgency. If you notice their sides are heaving and they are gasping for air with their mouths wide open, or if they wheezing and coughing making it hard for them to catch their breath, your cat is in serious trouble. The first thing you have to do is make sure there is nothing stuck in their mouths, but you need to be very careful because you could get scratched or bitten by a frightened pet. It's best to wrap them in a towel before trying to see if there is anything blocking their airways and then get them to the vet as quickly as you can.
Male cats having problems urinating – if you find that your male cat is having trouble urinating or when they try to go to the loo nothing comes out and they keep visiting their litter tray but are unable to pee, then a trip to the vet is in order sooner rather than later to ease their discomfort and possibly save their lives. If a cat cannot pee, it can lead to them suffering complete kidney failure. All too often the first signs there may be a problem are quite subtle, but if you are at all concerned it's best to let a vet check them over and to recommend a treatment if they find there is a urinary problem.
Paralysis in their back legs – even if you notice a slight paralysis in your pet's hind quarters, you need to get them to the vet straight away to have them checked over. Cats often suffer sudden paralysis of their hind legs due to an extremely painful condition called aortic thromboembolism (ATE). It is a condition that affects their heart and which causes blood clots which typically form in their back legs causing the paralysis. As previously mentioned, it is an extremely painful condition that needs emergency veterinary treatment.
No appetite and not drinking – cats cannot survive for very long without eating or drinking because they have very small reserves to fall back on. There could be many reasons why a cat stops eating or drinking and the sooner a vet can find out what's causing the problem the sooner a cat would be made to feel more comfortable and the prognosis would be that much better too.
Any sort of seizure – if you see your cat having any sort of seizure whether it's mild or more severe, you need to get them along to the vet straight away so they can be thoroughly examined. They might have to stay at the surgery so the vet can monitor them closely while they carry out any tests that need doing to establish what is going on.
Prolonged bouts of vomiting or diarrhoea - as previously mentioned cats don't have a lot of reserves to fall back on which means they dehydrate very quickly if they don't eat or drink anything. It only takes a couple of days or so for them to get very ill and as such they need to see a vet as soon as possible if they suffer any prolonged bouts of vomiting or diarrhoea.
Obvious distress or severe pain – when cats are very obviously in pain, they need to see a vet as a matter of urgency because as previously touched upon, cats tend to hide the fact they might be sick as a way of protecting themselves against predators so when they show signs of being in pain, it means they are in a very critical situation that needs veterinary attention as a matter of urgency.
Nobody knows their cat more than their owners, so if you think there is something wrong it’s better to be safe than sorry and get them along to see a vet sooner rather than later. Most conditions and health issues when treated early enough have much better outcomes and your cat is made to feel more comfortable that much quicker too. Obvious injuries need immediate veterinary attention, but often the signs there may be something wrong with your cat are very subtle and hard to pick up. With this said, if in doubt the vet is always there to give your cat the once over before recommending an effective treatment to get them back on the road to recovery.