Second Chance: Subtle Signs Of A Sick Cat

Second Chance Humane Society Animal Resource Center and Thrift Shops service San Miguel, Ouray & Montrose Counties. Call the SCHS Helpline at 626-2273 to report a lost pet, learn about adopting a homeless pet, or about the SCHS Spay/Neuter, Volunteer, Feral Cat, or other Programs. View our shelter pets and services online:


My name is Gracie. I am a lovely and healthy three-year-young Calico but, like all living beings, at some point in my life that will likely change. So for today’s Second Chance Pet Column I am going to prep you for the day when your cat is not feeling so fine. As it is the feline instinct to “suffer in silence” our ailments often go unnoticed. So here is my guide to recognizing the subtle signs of a cat needing medical attention.

Some feline symptoms of pain are not so subtle, particularly when they involve abrupt changes in behavior. For example if your active kitty is suddenly spending most of its time sleeping or your mellow cat is suddenly hyper and agitated a trip to the veterinarian is warranted.

Another indicator something is amiss is when your kitten is suddenly resistant to touch and interaction. Growling, swatting, or snapping when touched or moved is a clear sign something is wrong.

Some cats will show pain by sticking to one sleeping position. That can indicate an arthritic hip (more common in senior cats than most people realize) for example.

Cats tend to excessively lick an area that is painful, a good indication of where to look. That is a common response in cats with urinary tract infections who might incessantly lick their stomachs because their bladders are hurting.

Contrarily, take notice if a cat stops grooming altogether. In general, older cats tend to take on a scruffy appearance because arthritis or other conditions make the stretching required for grooming too painful  – but any cat who stops grooming completely is not feeling well.

As we tend to hide our pain, not because we are stoic martyrs, but because we feel vulnerable and more easily targeted by potential predators,  so some signs we are not feeling well are more subtle.

Abnormal body positions, hunched over when sitting or walking, certainly mean trouble.

Pain in the back or hips may make litter box use a challenge, so changes in that behavior are also a warning of trouble.

Fortunately, I am a healthy girl. The only reason I am homeless is because my last family developed cat allergies. That broke all our hearts, but I am bouncing back and becoming one of those sugar-and- spice kind of kitties many people appreciate. The kind of cat that lets you know when the level of adoration you are showering upon me is becoming obnoxious and that you need to get back to your own life.

Although I am living in a communal room here at the shelter, I secretly would prefer to be the only Queen of the Castle. I would also prefer my castle be relatively calm to match my demeanor. The awesome thing about me is I will readily share my calm. Hang with me and you will find Zen in your life like never before. Come visit the shelter today – ask for Gracie the Zen Master.

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