Part of life is being ill, whether a cat owner or their cat. No one likes to see a human or animal sick. In most instances, illnesses in a cat are minor, and the vet can intervene and make your kitty OK again. However, some diseases overtake our furry friends as they can us, and no one can do anything to make them OK again. All you can do is make your cat comfortable, and your vet can help you.

I have been rescuing cats since 1992, and at this current time, I have six fur babies ranging in age from 17 years to four years of age. All our cats seem to be doing well at this time.

But, as a cat owner, you constantly pray and hope no significant illness takes you or your pet. If you are a devoted cat owner, you know that no other person can take as good care of your babies like you. If you become ill, you must wonder who will give your cat the level of care you provide. If your cat becomes seriously sick, you know that this will take a part of your heart, and that hurts. When you have pets, it is imperative that you do all you can to stay healthy for them.

How Often are Cats Usually Sick?

I have had cats of all ages who became seriously ill and died. Our youngest cat had congenital heart failure and died at one month. Our other cats were three years to 19 years of age. We have seen the following illnesses in our babies and treated all of them, and were with them when euthanized. This process is more humane. However, it is difficult for the pet owner.

  • Cancer
  • Kidney Failure
  • Inoperable tumors
  • Insulin-dependent diabetes

No one, not even the vet, can tell you if your fur baby will have to deal with a terminal diagnosis anymore, then your doctor can tell you if you will deal with a significant illness in the future. It is what it is, and you have to do what you can, to heal your baby and stay with them to the end if that is their fate.

Minor and significant illnesses hit cats the same as humans. Some cats have more robust immune systems and never get sick. Other cats have a weaker immune system and seem to get sick more often, just like humans. Cats can become ill with a few of the most common illnesses, similar to humans. Most of this is in the DNA of the cat.

  • Colds
  • Sinus infections
  • Pneumonia
  • Bronchitis
  • Cancer
  • Arthritis
  • Kidney Infections
  • Kidney Stones
  • Kidney Failure
  • Congestive Heart Failure
  • Tumors
  • Epilepsy
  • Dementia
  • Episodic and random upset stomach
  • Allergies

Cats are masters at hiding an illness, and they may not look ill at all until the sickness starts to show signs and symptoms that something is amiss. Sometimes it is too late to do anything, such as advanced pneumonia. But, most times, the vet intervenes, and before you know it, your fur baby is back to a healthy state.

If you think your cat is ill, put yourself in their place. For instance, your cat throws up its dinner and does not want to eat or drink.

  • What happens if you have an upset stomach and you vomit? 
  • Are you going to want to eat or drink for a spell? 

Monitor your kitty for 24 hours and see how they are doing the next day. If your cat is throwing up more than weekly or every few weeks, it is time to speak with your vet. Perhaps hairball is the problem. It is not unusual when cats vomit a hairball every few weeks or months. Vomiting more than this is not normal.

In 2021, our cat Isabella started vomiting at least twice a day and every night. She had episodes of explosive diarrhea for a good many weeks until the vet discovered she had Irritable Bowel Syndrome. Now we know what to do to make her comfortable and help manage her illness. She will deal with this for the rest of her life.

A cat can come down with sniffles, sneezing, runny eyes, and noses. If you notice your cat licking its nose often, it probably has a runny nose. Like humans, the vet checks throats, mouths, teeth, ears, lungs, and their temperature. If everything checks out OK, they will undoubtedly tell you that it is a virus and you have to give it time. The vet will want you to let them know how the kitty is doing in a few days.

You must be aware of these minor symptoms in a kitten, a senior cat, or a cat who is already fighting a health issue because more severe infections can develop quickly. The bottom line is you know your cat and its typical behavior. When your cat starts to act outside its usual self, it may be time to speak to your vet.

How to Tell if Your Cat is Sick

  • Not groomed, and its fur is unkempt or over-groomed
  • Sneezing, watery eyes, runny nose, cough, laryngitis
  • More than usual shedding of fur
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Decreased appetite and water intake
  • Fatigue
  • Does not want to play and is inactive
  • Is hiding
  • Has bad breath
  • Hisses at you if you touch or pick it up
  • Behavior changes
  • Drooling
  • Changes in bowels and bladder routine

Cat parents must be forever vigilant of their fur babies because cats hide signs and symptoms of illness really well.

Why is My Cat Sick So Often?

One of the top reasons your cat may be sick can often be a fungus, bacterial, or viral infection. Only your vet can make a proper diagnosis and prescribe the right treatment.

Your cat can have underlying health issues like cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, FIV, Fel V, congestive heart failure, heartworm, parasites such as worms or tapeworms, rabies, ringworm, and upper respiratory infections. These major illnesses tend to decrease the cat’s ability to get over minor ailments such as the common cold.

All of these underlying issues can reduce the immunity of a cat. And, some of these things can be transferred to you. If you have been ill with a respiratory infection and your cat is now showing signs of a cold, have your cat examined as soon as you notice that things are not right with your cat’s health. You can make your cat ill, and your cat can pass certain illnesses on you.

How to Get My Cat to Stop Being Sick?

Some illnesses cannot be eliminated, such as cancer, kidney disease, diabetes, or heart conditions. In these situations, you cannot stop the disease progression or stop your cat from being sick. However, your vet can help you manage these illnesses to make your cat more comfortable.

In short-term illnesses, the circumstances are wide and varied. The following steps can help your cat from being sick from the more common ailments. You would use some of the same approaches to stop yourself from being sick.

  • Make an appointment with your vet for an exam and plan of care to get your cat well again. You never know quite what to do until you find out the problem from the vet.  Otherwise, it is challenging to care for your sick cat, not knowing the problem.
  • Give medication as directed by your vet.
  • Encourage your cat to drink first and gradually reintroduce small amounts of food.

This is a challenge because it will likely turn away from food or water when sick. Your cat can do without food for a few days, but they must not do without water. You may be able to draw up 5cc of water with a syringe or dropper and carefully release the water into the pet’s mouth. If your cat fights this approach, it quickly becomes dehydrated.

The vet may give your cat a bolus of about 500 ccs of water. The vet uses a large syringe with a needle inserted just under the skin at the back of the cat’s neck. A bolus does not hurt the cat, but will leave an alarming lump under the skin, which is the water. This water dissipates into the skin and rehydrates your kitty quickly. This extra water may be enough to get your cat on track to drink water again. Keeping your cat hydrated may be enough to get your cat well again.

  • The vet may give you pain medication for your cat.
  • Keep encouraging food and water. You can also open a can of water-packed tuna fish and put some of this tuna water in a small dish.
  • Keep the room darkened and quiet where your cat is resting. I have found that excellent soothing music helps my cats relax.
  • Some cats do not want humans touching them when they are not feeling well. Other cats yearn for human contact when they are ill.
  • Always keep a small bowl of cold water, a small bowl of dry food, and the cat’s litter pay near them. Offer a teaspoonful of moist food at intervals. You can add a teaspoonful of water mixed into the food to add fluids.

 

Author

I created and currently run Kitty Cat Tips, the website that you can go to when you have questions about your cat's behavior. It's my hope that you find Kitty Cat Tips to be a helpful resource. It is also my hope that it will help you to improve your relationship with your cat. You can read more about me and my website here.