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When to Take Your Cat to a Vet

Discussion in 'Cat Health and Nutrition' started by LDK1, Feb 9, 2012.

  1. LDK1

    LDK1 PetForums VIP

    Oct 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    I was wondering if there should be a sticky at the top of this forum listing the most common symptoms of health issues in cats, and when it's time to seek the advice of a vet.

    Obviously, experienced owners will already know when something is not right and will be able to judge how long to wait and see but for new owners it could help them to make a decision - sooner rather than later.

    I am not a medical person, I just found this on a Google search:

    Something like this (there may be better ones?) copied and pasted from: www.cat-world.com.au/when-to-take-your-cat-to-the-vet:


    Cats can be extremely stoic & if they are feeling unwell they tend to hide it well. Therefore it is up to you to be aware of subtle (or not so subtle) changes in your cat which may require veterinary attention.

    Always be observant. You should be aware of eating habits, toileting, behavior, sleeping, weight & general wellbeing. If you notice any changes, no matter how subtle it should be checked out with the vet. The earlier problems are caught, the better the chance of recovery. If you are in any doubt about taking your cat to the vet it is ALWAYS better to err on the side of caution & seek help. Never wait & see because delaying medical attention may prolong suffering & mean that a sickness or injury is all the harder to treat.

    Anorexia (refusal to eat):

    It may not seem a big deal if your cat refuses food, after all he will eat if he becomes hungry enough, right? No, this is not the case. When a cat loses his appetite it can lead to a serious condition known as hepatic lipidosis (or fatty liver disease) which is life threatening. Loss of appetite can also just be a vague sign that your cat is not well. Some medical conditions which may cause your cat to lose his appetite include;

    •Tick paralysis
    •Addison's disease
    •Bacterial infection (Bordetella)
    •Certain medications
    •Dental or mouth pain (gingivitis, tooth abscess, stomatitis)
    •Feline diatetes
    •Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
    •Gastrointestinal disease
    •Haemobartonellosis (Feline Infectious Anemia)
    •Injury or trauma
    •Intestinal obstruction
    •Ingestion of poison
    •Kidney failure
    •Neoplasia (abnormal cell growth)
    •New or unpalatable diet
    •Portosystemic shunt

    As you can see, there is quite an extensive list of possible causes & this is by no means a complete list.


    Unsteady, wobbly gait, walking in circles. This can have many possible causes including:

    •Tick paralysis
    •Middle ear problems
    •Spinal injury
    •Nervous system disorders
    •Muscular skeletal damage
    •Weakness & anemia
    •Head trauma
    •Thiamine deficiency

    Bad breath:

    Bad breath is a sign there is a dental problem. Any dental problems need veterinary attention before they progress to something worse. Possible causes include;

    •Kidney disease
    •Diabetes mellitus
    •Liver disease
    •Tooth abscess
    •Periodontal disease
    •Intestinal problems
    •Cancers of the mouth


    Bleeding of any sort should be checked out.


    Seek veterinary care if you notice panting, wheezing, coughing, suffering shortness of breath. There are many causes of breathing difficulty including;



    No matter how mild, any burns should be checked.

    Change in toileting habits:

    Changes such as urinating more or less often, straining to go to the toilet, toileting in inappropriate places. There are many reasons why your cat's toileting habits may have changed, all warranting investigation by your veterinarian. Some causes are fairly benign such as dirty litter tray, others have more serious causes, some reasons include;

    •Urinary tract infection
    •Kidney disease


    Coughing isn't seen as often in cats as it is in dogs but it always warrants further investigation. Possible causes include;

    •Roundworm migration
    •Lung tumours
    •Nasopharyngeal polyps
    •Fungal infection
    •Feline Bordetella


    Diarrhea lasting more than 12 hours or if it is blood or mucous tinged or accompanied by other signs of sickness.

    Diarrhea in kittens is especially worrysome as they can become dehydrated so quickly. Urgent veterinary attention is necessary.

    Electric shock:

    Even if your cat appears to be well after the incident, you should still seek veterinary attention.

    Excessive scratching:

    Scratching may not appear to be a serious problem but it needs to be seen to. Possible causes of scratching include;


    Increased thirst:

    Another indicator that there is a potential problem is if your cat begins to drink more. There are many possible causes for this including;

    •Kidney problems

    Ingestion of toxic substance (including plants, medications, poisons):

    Your cat may look okay, but the toxin could be causing irreversible damage, so veterinary attention is urgent.

    Lameness & Limping:

    May not appear to be serious but there are many causes of lameness & limping in cats.

    Sudden weight loss or gain:

    There are too many possible causes of weight loss & gain to list fully. Some more common causes include;

    •Pregnancy & lactation


    Any eye changes need to be seen by a veterinarian. These include minor or serious injury, change in eye colour, discharge, weeping, redness. Any eye problems are serious & could lead to blindness if not treated promptly.


    •Bleeding from the nose
    •Any discharge from the nose


    If you notice or suspect your cat has ingested something toxic medical attention should be sought immediately.


    Fortunately these are relatively uncommon in cats but if you suspect your cat has had a seizure veterinary attention is vital.


    This is something else you may notice from time to time, and the occasional sneeze is relatively harmless, but if your cat is sneezing frequently, it is accompanied by mucus or your cat displays other signs of sickness, seek veterinary care immediately.

    Possible causes include;

    Upper respiratory infection (either caused by a virus or bacteria). This is the most common cause of sneezing in cats.

    •Irritants (cigarette smoke, dust etc)
    •Foreign object (grass seed etc)
    •Dental abscess
    •Nasal polyps
    •Nasal cancer
    •Fungal infection

    Straining to go to the toilet:

    Straining to go to the toilet can be mistaken for constipation, but a far more serious cause is FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease), which can lead to the cat becoming completely blocked & unable to urinate. Straining in the litter tray is always cause for concern & urgent veterinary attention necessary.

    Vaginal discharge:

    Any discharge from the vagina is abnormal & must be attended to immediately. Possible causes include;

    •Acute Metritis
    •Foreign body


    All cats vomit from time to time & generally this is normal. You should seek medical attention if your cat vomits several times within an hour, the vomit contains blood, mucus or if your cat is also displaying other signs of sickness.

    Vomiting in kittens should be investigated immediately.

    Birth & post natal problems:

    •Prolonged labour
    •Difficulty delivering
    •Fever after the birth
    •Suddenly neglecting the kittens
    •Vaginal discharge
  2. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

    Mar 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Thing is if you can find it on google so can they. ;)

    People do not read stickies; instead, they would rather have personalised info that speaks to them directly (ideally with a way/home remedies to avoid going to the vets and spending money; oh the cynic I am).
  3. LDK1

    LDK1 PetForums VIP

    Oct 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Look how many people have read your A to Z guides, including me - several hundred times over! :p
  4. hobbs2004

    hobbs2004 PetForums VIP

    Mar 12, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Hahah, touche! :001_tongue: But people still want their individual advice! Just look at the threads on here. People don't even bother to use the search function because their situation or query is slightly different or because they cannot be bothered or don't know how to. Not a judgement of those who do this; just saying.

    Also, you are hard pushed to find the info in my A-Z (or what it once was) anywhere else... with relevance to the UK of course. There is a similar attempt (though not as good imo) for US food.

    Tell you what though; a sticky that most people would read would be:

    How can I avoid taking my cat to the vet? ;)
  5. LDK1

    LDK1 PetForums VIP

    Oct 1, 2010
    Likes Received:
    Very funny :D
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