Cat symptoms guide

Cat Symptoms Checker

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A quick guide to your cat’s symptoms. Scroll to the particular symptom to get suggestions on a possible cause.

Abdomen (painful)

Abdomen (swollen)

  • Ascites
  • Bloat
  • Constipation/megacolon
  • Cushing’s disease
  • Intestinal blockage
  • Intestinal worms
  • Obesity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pyometra – Uterine infection.
  • Ruptured bladder
  • Tumours of the liver, spleen, kidney, intestine.

Aggressive behaviour

Painful conditions including:

Other:

Alopecia (hair loss)

Pruritic (itchy):

Nonpruritic (non-itchy):

Anal bleeding

  • Constipation
  • Polyps
  • Hookworm
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Cancer
  • Colitis
  • Infection
  • Blood clotting disorders

Anal scooting

  • Constipation
  • Tumour
  • Worms

Anorexia (not eating)

Ataxia (unsteady gait)

 

Bad breath (halitosis)

 

Bald spots

  • Abscess
  • Ringworm
  • Food allergy
  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Miliary dermatitis
  • Feline acne
  • Folliculitis
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Topical medications (reaction)
  • Vaccine (reaction)
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Eosinophilic granuloma complex

Black tarry stools (melena)

  • Vitamin D toxicity
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Foreign object
  • Ingestion of blood
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Cancer
  • Trauma

Blindness

 

Bleeding (excessive)

  • Thrombocytopenia (low platelets)
  • Hemophilia
  • Poisoning (snake, anti-coagulant rodenticides, cycad seeds)

Blood in stool (bright red)

 

Blood in stool (dark/tarry)

  • Gastrointestinal ulcers
  • Foreign body
  • Ingestion of blood (nosebleed, bleeding in the lungs, dental bleeding)
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Aspirin poisoning
  • Tumours
  • Vitamin D toxicity
  • Trauma
  • Infection

Blood in urine (hematuria)

Breathing (rapid)

Claws (thickened)

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Old age
  • Acromegaly

Coma

Constipation

  • Dehydration
  • Reluctance to defecate due to behavioural issues.
  • Obstruction of the colon
  • Dietary
  • Drugs and medications
  • Painful defecation
  • Neurological
  • Hypothyroidism
  • Pelvic injuries
  • Metabolic/hormonal
  • Idiopathic

 

Coughing

 

Crying

  • Hunger
  • Estrus
  • New kitten: If you have just obtained your kitten it may meow excessively for the first few days. Leaving it’s mother and siblings and moving into a new house with new owners is a huge change to your kitten.
  • Loss of a companion: Cats are sensitive creatures and form close bonds with their owners and other pets in the household. If there are changes to the family dynamics, such as a separation, or the loss of an animal, this may cause your cat to meow more than usual.
  • Moving house: Again, this is a big change for your cat and may result in it becoming more vocal.
  • Attention seeking: Excessive vocalisation may be a result of your cat is feeling lonely or not receiving enough attention from his owner.
  • Outside influences: A neighbourhood cat coming onto your cat’s territory.
  • Old age: Some old cats may meow excessively. This usually happens when they begin to lose their cognitive functions.
  • Medical problems: If your cat is sick or in pain it may result in excessive vocalisation.
  • Nocturnal behaviour: Cats by nature are nocturnal, and may meow more during the night.

Decreased appetite

  • See anorexia

Dehydration

  • Vomiting and or diarrhea
  • Sickness – A sick cat may go off his food and water and therefore not receive enough fluids and become dehydrated.
  • Increased urination – Medical conditions such as diabetes and renal failure in which the cat urinates more often may cause dehydration.
  • Heatstroke
  • Lack of available, fresh drinking water.
  • Shock
  • Blood loss
  • Fever

 

Diarrhea

Dilated pupils

  • Brain tumour
  • Certain drugs
  • Feline dysautonomia
  • Head trauma
  • Insulinoma
  • Multiple myeloma
  • Poisoning
  • Retinal detachment

Drinking (increased thirst)

 

Drooling

Dull hair coat

Excessive blinking

Eye discharge

  • Blepharitis (inflammation of the eyelid)
  • Blocked tear ducts
  • Feline upper respiratory infections (cat flu)
  • Conjunctivitis (inflammation of the conjunctiva)
  • Dry eye
  • Allergy
  • Keratitis
  • Epiphora (excessive tear production)
  • Foreign bodies in the eye
  • Trichiasis (rare in cats, eyelashes growing from the eyelid and rubbing against the cornea causing irritation)
  • Trauma
  • Uveitis (watery discharge)

Excessive tearing (eye)

Exercise intolerance

  • Blastomycosis
  • Pyothorax
  • Lungworm
  • Diaphragmatic hernia

Fading kitten syndrome

  • Blood type incompatibility
  • Congenital defect
  • Environmental temperature (too hot or cold)
  • Maternal neglect
  • Dehydration
  • Inadequate nutrition during birth
  • Viral, bacterial or parasitic infection

Fever

  • Blastomycosis
  • Infection (bacterial, viral, protozoal)
  • Idiopathic (unknown cause)
  • Cancer
  • Some drugs
  • Disease of the endocrine (hormonal) system (hypocalcemia)
  • Glycogen storage disease
  • Lungworm
  • Plague
  • Pyothorax
  • Cryptococcosis
  • Osteomyelitis
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Tularemia
  • Spider bite
  • Ecoli
  • Pseudorabies
  • Paracetamol poisoning
  • Campylobacteriosis

Frequent urination

  • Bladder stones
  • Cystitis
  • Diabetes
  • Acute or chronic kidney failure
  • Kidney stones
  • Urinary tract infection

 

Gums (colour)

Hair loss

  • See alopecia

Head tilt

Head shaking

  • Ear mites
  • Ear infection or inflammation
  • Polyps
  • Demodicosis
  • Feline scabies
  • Foreign object in ear
  • Allergies
  • Insect bites and stings

 

Hunger (increased)

  • Not feeding enough
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Acromegaly
  • Cushing’s syndrome
  • Insulin-producing tumour
  • Diabetes
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)
  • Pregnancy
  • Lactation
  • Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Certain medications

Hyperactivity

Hypersalivation

  • Heinz body anemia
  • Poisoning (cane coad, arum plants, organophosphate, synthetic pyrethroids, durana erecta, tobacco, macrocyclic lactone antihelmintic)
  • Pyothorax

Inappropriate urination

 

Increased heart rate

Increased thirst

  • See drinking

Increased urination

  • Vitamin D toxicity

Itchy anus

Itchy ear

 

Itchy skin

 

Lethargy

Limping

  • Arthritis
  • Arterial thromboembolism
  • Bone cancer
  • Broken bone
  • Calicivirus
  • Declawing pain
  • Joint dislocation
  • Foreign body (glass, splinter etc)
  • Insect bite or sting
  • Spinal cord or nerve injury
  • Lyme disease
  • Laceration
  • Sprains
  • Nail injuries
  • Overgrown claws
  • Paw pad injuries

Nasal discharge

  • Upper respiratory infection (cat flu)
  • Nasal polyps
  • Bacterial infection
  • Fungal infection
  • Nasal tumours
  • Head trauma
  • Foreign objects in the nasal cavity
  • Allergies
  • Cleft palate
  • Cheyletiellosis
  • Tooth root abscesses
  • Pneumonia

 

Nosebleeds

  • Blood clotting disorders such as hemophilia
  • Ingestion of poisons (rat poison, aspirin). It is possible for cats to either directly consume rat poison or to indirectly become poisoned by killing and/or eating a rodent who has ingested rat poison itself
  • Foreign body (such as grass seed)
  • Trauma (running into something, hit by car etc)
  • Anemia
  • Cancer
  • Dental abscess
  • Infections (bacterial, viral, fungal) which can cause ulceration
  • Liver failure
  • Kidney failure
  • High blood pressure
  • Polycythemia

 

Painful abdomen

  • See abdomen

Painful urination

  • Cystitis
  • Bladder infection
  • Urinary crystals
  • Kidney stones

Panting

Paralysis

  • Aortic thromboembolism (saddle thrombosis)
  • Poisoning (tick, botulism, macadamia, ciguatoxin, tetrodotoxin)
  • Stroke
  • Trauma
  • Tumour
  • Slipped disc
  • Viral infection
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Meningitis

Photophobia (sensitivity to light)

Pupils dilated (see dilated pupils)

Pupils (fixed)

Pupils (odd/different sized)

  • Anterior uveitis
  • Corneal ulcers
  • Certain drugs/medications
  • Glaucoma
  • Head trauma
  • Horner’s syndrome
  • Iris atrophy
  • Spastic pupil syndrome
  • Oculomotor nerve paralysis
  • Stroke
  • Tumours

Rapid/shallow breathing
(tachypnea)

  • Anemia
  • Pneumonia
  • Metabolic acidosis
  • Hernia
  • Tumours
  • Airway obstruction
  • Pleural effusion
  • Pulmonary edema
  • Pain
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Heart failure
  • Hypovolemic shock
  • Hypoglycemia (low blood sugar)

Scabby ears

  • Pemphigus
  • Ringworm
  • Systemic lupus erythematosus
  • Allergy (food, contact, inhalant, insect, flea allergy dermatitis)
  • Sunburn
  • Squamous cell carcinoma
  • Frostbite
  • Hypothyroidism

Scabs (neck)

  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Abscess

Scabs (back)

  • Flea allergy dermatitis
  • Abscess

Seizures

 

Straining to urinate

 

Swollen abdomen

  • See abdomen

Swollen breast and/or nipple

  • Lactating
  • Pregnancy
  • Galactostasis
  • Feline mammary hypertrophy
  • Mammary hyperplasia
  • Mammary cancer
  • Mastitis

Swollen chin

  • Insect bite or sting
  • Abscess
  • Feline acne
  • Oral cancer
  • Dental abscess
  • Rodent ulcer
  • Allergy

 

Swollen eye

  • Conjunctivitis
  • Foreign body in the eye
  • Entropion (eyelid folding inwards)
  • Allergies
  • Viral or bacterial infection

 

Swollen lymph nodes

  • Infection
  • Inflammation
  • Allergy
  • Cancer

Swollen paw

  • Foreign object
  • Declawing complications
  • Ingrown claw
  • Abscess
  • Plasma cell pododermatitis
  • Burns
  • Frostbite
  • Cuts and abrasions
  • Paracetamol poisoning
  • Insect bite or sting

 

Tremors

Vomiting

Food/Diet Related:
  • Eating too fast
  • Rapid change in the diet. If you are going to switch brands or type of food, gradually introduce the new type over a few days
  • Eating inappropriate foods such as old or mouldy food, food inappropriate for cats etc.
  • Food allergies
  • Food intolerance
  • Foreign object. Bones, wool etc.
  • Ingestion of toxins such as antifreeze, aspirin, poisonous plants etc.
  • Parasites
  • Intestinal worms

Medical related:

 

Vomiting blood

  • Foreign body
  • Ulcers (stomach, esophagus)
  • Aspirin poisoning
  • Inflammation (stomach, esophagus)
  • Blood clotting disorders
  • Infections
  • Tumours (stomach, esophagus)
  • Certain medications
  • Intestinal worms
  • Swallowed blood (from mouth, nose, esophagus)


Wheezing

  • Anaphylaxis
  • Asthma
  • Cat flu
  • Foreign body lodged in airways
  • Hairballs
  • Heartworm
  • Lungworm

 

Weakness

 

Weight loss

 




Julia Wilson is a cat expert with over 20 years of experience writing about a wide range of cat topics, with a special interest in cat health, welfare and preventative care.Julia lives in Sydney with her family, four cats and two dogs. She enjoys photography, gardening and running in her spare time.Full author bio Contact Julia