Cats are mysterious creatures. Independent, secretive and even standoffish at times, their behaviour can be baffling. But, if you know how to look for the subtle clues they give out, you’ll soon have your cat’s communication skills sorted.

a cat portrait close up

Your cat is ill but shows no symptoms

This is every veterinarian’s nightmare because usually by the time your cat lets on that he’s not well, his disease/ailment is far advanced and more difficult, or impossible, to treat. Cats are masters of disguise, and in the wild they know that to show illness is a vulnerability that makes them prey to stronger creatures. All cats will instinctively hide illness. 

Look out for:

  • Peeing in odd places like on your bed or in the bath, basin or shower
  • Hiding from you and other pets
  • Drinking more water than usual
  • Vomiting for more than 24 hours
  • Straining to poop
  • Avoiding favourite sleeping places that are raised (your bed, a window sill)

All of these are clues to potential illnesses like arthritis, kidney disease, diabetes, cancer and constipation. Get your pet to the vet for a checkup asap because by the time you’ve picked up on these clues, his illness is probably far advanced.

Your cat refuses his favourite kibble (pellets)

An astonishing 85% of cats over the age of three suffer dental disease. 

Look out for: 

  • Plaque build-up on his teeth and a reddening of the gums. 
  • He may refuse his usual pellets because crunching them hurts his gums.

Unless treated, dental decay can lead to more serious conditions like heart failure as bacteria from rotting teeth enters the bloodstream.

Your cat has scratched himself raw

You’re diligent with tick and flea control but your cat is still scratching and pulling out his fur.

Look out for:

  • Redness and itching around the mouth, face and between the paws. 

Many cats are allergic to ticks and fleas but they can also be allergic to their food. Your cat may suffer from atopy, an allergic condition caused by environmental allergens. The only way to determine what’s making your cat itch is to visit your vet and ask about allergies. A simple diet change may help but until you know what the allergen is, you’re wasting your money trying to cure it.

Your cat has ‘flea dirt’ on his chin

This is weird because you know he’s been treated for ticks and fleas. Actually, those tiny black spots are not ‘flea dirt’ at all but rather chin acne, a disorder in which excess oily material (sebum) is formed by glands in the skin of the chin.  

Look out for:

  • Plastic fantastic. Yip, an allergy to a plastic food bowl may be causing his chin acne. Switch to a metal bowl and see if that helps.

Other possible causes include immune suppression, stress, food allergy, viruses or environmental allergies. If it’s really bothering you or your cat, your vet may recommend a skin scraping to determine the allergy, or daily chin cleaning.

Your cat vomited up a ‘hair tube’

These ‘tubes’ of compacted fur, commonly referred to as hairballs,  are common in spring and summer when cats shed their winter coats. 

Look out for:

  • Vomiting repeatedly for more than 24 hours. This indicates a much bigger problem and your cat must get to a vet as soon as possible. 

Grooming your cat regularly is the best hairball prevention, and there are some foods that help the food pass more easily through the digestive tract. This is particularly good for long-haired cats like Persians. Ask your EberVet Vetshop for grooming aids or food advice.

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