Cat Illness Symptoms

cat lives at vets

Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

Above: this is a vet’s cat – he’s lovely – intense gaze – photo by kafkan

Cat Illness Symptoms” – What are people looking for when they do a Google search for this? A simple list of symptoms? That can’t be the case as there is little value in a list of symptoms unless the possible causes are attached.

The point is, can this be done and indeed should it be done? A list of symptoms and the possible causes is a form of diagnosis and only one person should do that, namely a properly qualified veterinarian with the cat in front of him/her.

This is because diagnosis of cat illnesses is difficult. Some underlying diseases produce a range of symptoms and a range of underlying illnesses produce overlapping symptoms – complicated obviously and fraught with the potential for error, even for an experienced vet I would have thought.

The point made, I confess that I have described cat health problems on this website; and I stress described the health problems. The articles/postings call them what you like are not diagnostic. They simply describe the issues in the same way one would describe a cat breed. The description must make a reference to the symptoms and they do. In some instances treatments are discussed when it is recognized that the symptoms could be treatable at home.

So, I came up with the idea of listing out the cat illness symptoms on this page and connecting the list to the pages describing the illnesses; voila, a cat illness symptoms page without attempting to diagnose. This page is then another doorway to the cat health problems page and associated links.

In conclusion, can an unqualified person provide such a list? Yes, in my view, provided it sticks to strict limits and boundaries, the sources are accurate and the writer precise. After all, cat breeders in collaboration with veterinarians provide medical care to their cats. And, books are written, at a quite complex medical level, by veterinarians (referred to in part here) for unqualified cat keepers about how to care for cats. It is all about knowledge while abstaining from diagnostics, which is the prerogative of the skilled vet. See a bit more on this: Cat Illness Diagnosis.

Associated Page: Common Cat Illness.

The list of symptoms; click on the text or block of text describing the symptoms to be taken to the page that describes an illness or illnesses that can produce these cat illness symptoms.

The illness selected is one possible cause. There may be others.

Changes in behavior as a sign of possible illness
Hair loss
Thinning, brittle, dull coat
Fast or slow pulse
Sneezing, runny eyes and nose (like a human cold)
Feline Sneezing – more detail on this
Feline Leukemia Symptoms – these cannot be listed in a simple fashion
Itchy around head, ears and shoulders — red/pink lumps on skin 0.5cm across — diarrhea — vomiting perhaps — hair loss (likely)
Cat crying
Cat Drooling
Cough which occurs when the cat is active or exercises —a lethargic cat —loss of weight —poor coat condition —blood in the sputum (sputum is the matter from the respiratory [breathing] tract) –later symptoms are heavy (labored) breathing and congestive heart failure

Substantially increased appetite accompanied by:- —weight loss (this would be particularly noticeable in the light of an increased appetite) —urinating a lot more. This would and should be noticeable to people keeping cats particularly if you are the one who changes the litter tray. —drinking a lot more. Once again this should be very noticeable if you are the person who feeds your cat. Water bowls will go down much more rapidly. In addition there may be these additional symptoms: —vomiting. Although a cat vomiting can be something not to be concerned about. advanced stage. —poor coat condition. —apparently some cats walk with hocks touching the ground. —weakness caused by low blood sugar (hypoglycemia) can be serious. A cat will be listless. —dehydration. A symptom of dehydration is when the skin on the scruff of the neck when pulled fails to return to its original position in a normal time. Gums should be moist and tacky. This may indicate an advanced stage. —muscle wasting (extreme weight loss). Advanced Symptoms are:- —marked dehydration —vomiting —listlessness —loss of appetite

Strain when urinating, urinate in the wrong place, urinate small amounts, go frequently, urinate bloody urine and lick themselves a lot
Eyes bulges — sunken eyeJerky eye — Cross eye — Inflammation of the eyelids —- swollen eye —- Eye lash irritation —- Rolled in eyelid —- Rolled out lower eyelid —- Film over the eye —- Watery eye —- Red eye — Cloudy eye inflammation of the cornea – eye discharge, squinting, rubbing and protrusion of 3rd eyelid — opacity of the lens of the eye — hard eye —- squinting, watering — inflammation of the inner pigmented area of the eye
Hair loss and scabs around the head — thick wrinkled skin and grey/yellow crusts form plus the symptoms of scratching
Depression —lethargy —weight loss —possible anorexia —vomiting —possible diarrhea (soft fatty feces) —not eating due to depression —a direct symptom of the inflamed pancreas may be a painful abdomen {note: these symptoms may also be present in other illnesses
Cat stops eating — more advanced symptoms will be jaundice and vomiting — the skin (may see it inside the ear flap – pinnae) and eyes turn yellow. In very advanced stages the cat might be bright yellow-orange all over the body
cat in basket
Photo © by Bonnie and Victor Cats

A range of cat illness symptoms including high level of urination and drinking (supply plenty of fresh water) –apathy (due to poisoning of the cat’s body by the retention of the waste products of metabolism – uremic poisoning) –sluggishness (due to poisoning of the cat’s body by the retention of the waste products of metabolism) –loss of appetite –loss of weight –dry coat – unkempt appearance –tongue and gum ulcers –brownish tongue –ammonia smelling breath –vomiting yellowish fluid –diarrhea –anemia –bleeding of the intestine –coma (terminal)

Excessive grooming causing hair loss
Sudden loss of coordination — circling — falling — loss of balance — blindness — spasms of the face and limbs — paralysis, one side of the body is usually affected
Biting the tip of the tail or attacking the tail –sensitivity to touching –dilated pupils –twitching of the tail –running around wildly –symptoms can look like epileptic fits –rippling skin as mentioned above –looks like crazy behavior but cat is distressed –loud meowing
Skin tumor – possible cause
Chronic dry cough —fever —weight loss —nasal discharge —wheezing
Rashes on the head, neck and back –possible swollen eyelids –possible hair loss –sores due to scratching — possible diarrhea —possible vomiting (see cat vomiting)
Noticeable and persistent hacking cat cough that can last for a long episode — shortness of breath
Abdominal discomfort — vomiting — convulsions — scooting (drag bottom on ground)
Weight loss
Appetite loss –weight loss –sleepy –weakness –pulse rapid –breathing rapid — the gums and tongue are pale.
Peeing outside litter tray — dark urine — small amounts of urine — frequent urination.
Gastrointestinal symptoms, diarrhea, dehydration, high fever, severe depression and vomiting.
General cat illness symptoms and it can be hard to differentiate the symptoms of this disease from other feline diseases — loss of appetite and weight — listlessness — running a temperature (fever of 106 degrees) — vomiting — diarrhea — dehydration — anemia — jaundice (yellow skin – liver failure) and unsurprisingly the cat looks very ill — The color of the eyes may change and a reddish area on the iris, bleeding into the eye and the eye may be cloudy.
Initial acute cat illness symptoms: –fever — swelling of lymph nodes, which are part of the immune system. They filter/trap foreign particles –low white cell count (white cells – leukocytes – are also part of the immune system providing a defense against foreign invading objects) –skin infections –anemia. The disease progresses from the early acute signs (above) to latency (up to 3 years) to the chronic phase, the symptoms of which are: –general ill heath –severe mouth/gum disease –diarrhea –loss of appetite –loss of weight –URIs (Upper Respiratory Infections) –ear canal infections –URIs (Urinary Tract Infections)
Weight loss and increased appetite — grooms less and looks messy — hyperactivity — nervousness — panting — vomiting — diarrhea. Increased thirst and urination can be present. This condition can be confused with renal disease
Increased drinking and urinating — increased appetite — panting — pendulous appearance to abdomen — increased urinary and skin infections — decreased exercise tolerance — weight gain — hair loss — increased pigmentation of skin — thinning skin — muscle weakness — failure to grow hair that has been shaved Normally not all the symptoms are present. Normally 2-3 symptoms and some none. Doesn’t cause obvious illness. Increased thirst may be the most obvious
Circular red rings on skin – one of the simpler but hard to see cat illness symptoms
Excessive production of ear wax forming a thick brown/black layer in the ear canal — irritation — scratching — inflammation of ear
rash — itching and scratching — watering of eyes — wheezing — anaphylactic shock
Female cat – pink nipples
Skin rash (opens new tab or window)
Persistent hacking cough
Erratic habits howling for attention wandering aimlesslyaltered sleeping habits missing the litter asking for food after feedinggetting disorientated and confused decreased grooming
Swollen area on head — irritating to cat — excessive washing on swollen area (opens new tab or window)
Scooting – dragging the bottom along the ground to alleviate irritation/pain/discomfort (opens new tab or window)


This page on cat illness symptoms is not comprehensive. It is well researched and intended as a guideline, something to provoke thought. But, as usual, the advice is not to treat ill cats without medical advice or unless medically qualified oneself.

Sources: these can be seen in full when accessing the pages linked to this list of symptoms.

9 thoughts on “Cat Illness Symptoms”

  1. My cat is an indoor cat. I do take her outside regularly on a leash. She eats a grain free wet diet 95% of the time. Seems to be sensitive to chicken. She had been treated for worms in the past. Lately she’s been scooting again? No recurrence of fleas but maybe I didn’t get the entire pill in her the last time. Thought maybe she was scooting from a food allergy. She had no small glad issues with what I can see? Should she be treated for worms again? Her coat is healthy, she is playful. Occasionally she will go outside her box. Her out put seems good. No obvious sign of worms there.

    • Hi Ange. Well, as I understand feline scooting the medical reason for it is because the area of the bottom is itching or there is pain or both. The area is irritating her. There are a few reasons for this and one is worms but I think you’d see them at the anus if they existed. Does her bottom look inflamed or infected. It seems not by your description.

      I have a theory that sometimes cats scoot to wipe their bottom. That sounds fanciful and stupid but it may be true. Does she scoot after she has been to the toilet?

      I have a page on feline scooting which I have just updated. It covers the causes.

      It may help. If there are no signs of problems I’d watch and wait and see how things develop. Good luck to you both.

  2. Plenty of places to stay under my suv, under my trailers or shed outside…

    So outside corners of her eyes are reddish pink-initially thought she’d been in fight with one of feral cats but such pinkness continues to her head and nipples so I figured sunburn

    I have also noticed late night, she keeps me awake by talking (she is lynx point siamese)I feed her 1st thing in morning, she eats again just before going to sleep at night-I feed her, she eats a bit, when it is time to go to sleep, she talks to me, then eats a bit more then talks again keeping me awake, then continues in intervals talking again 15 minutes later, such goes on from 10pm till maybe 1 am-some intervals wider spaced apart like hour but is infuriating

  3. Pink nipples yet she is 7, NEUTERED, NOT pregnant and also has pink around outside corners of her eyes-Thought Maybe initially she got into fight NOTING she has NO CLAWS, is basically INDOOR CAT) BUT increased water intake signifies due to us living in un-air conditioned house, perhaps she is sunburned on her face? Face also tad pinkish…Humiture in FL has been 100 degrees-I try to keep eye on her when I let her outside-I cannot afford a vet-I get food stamps

    • If she is otherwise healthy which appears to be the case she might have been sunburned as you say. The areas you describe are where the fur is v.thin so the sun can penetrate to the skin and burn it. Personally I’d keep her in for a bit and watch her carefully for signs of illness. It will get her out of the sun. Do you have a cool spot somewhere? What about wiping her down with a dampened clean cloth? Wipe her fur. This will put a small amount of water on her fur which will evaporate and cool her.

  4. Great site. Thank you for writing that. I will return to this site to find out more and inform my friends about your writing


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