Unless your cat has learned to speak Human yet, you probably don’t really know when it’s time to take him to the vet. In a perfect world, you’ll be making him well-check appointments every 6-12 months, but if you’re not, how do you know when your cat really, truly needs to see the vet?
Here’s when you know it’s time.
Your cat is…eating strangely
When you boil it down, your cat sleeps, plays, poops, and eats. That’s about it. When the eating part of the equation is off, everything else eventually goes askew. Changes in appetite – either eating too much food or not enough – are a surefire sign something has changed in your cat’s system. Whether it’s a disease, a virus, or something more serious, a vet can help nail down the source. Your cat might need medication to even things out!
Your cat’s…poop and pee is weird
The litter box is basically a litmus test of your cat’s health. It can reveal all sorts of maladies if you pay close enough attention. If your cat isn’t peeing (or pooping) enough, she could be dehydrated or be suffering from one of many common feline diseases like hyperthyroidism. A lack of poop indicates constipation which probably means your cat is sick or otherwise having trouble with his diet. Either way, if your cat’s “output” has changed – even if it’s just that he’s stopped using the litter box altogether! – it’s time to call the vet.
Your cat is…being a jerk
Okay, more of a jerk than usual. Behavioral issues, particularly when the pop up suddenly, are almost always indicative of something unusual going on with your cat. Is he acting more aggressively than usual? Clawing up the curtains? Waking up during the night at every hour, on the hour? There might be something wrong. Your cat could be feeling pain that’s invisible to you, or he could have a systematic imbalance that needs to be evaluated by a professional. At the very least, a trained vet can give you some strategies for mitigating your cat’s jerkiness if it is a simple behavioral issue.
Your cat…has gotten lazy
There are a lot of reasons a cat can go from “hopping up on the counter to eat the leftover chicken” to “can’t be bothered to clean his own fur anymore.” If your cat’s physical prowess has slowed, whether he’s stiff, timid, or just seems a little apathetic, he might be suffering from a totally treatable condition like arthritis. Of course, he could also be getting fat, which is a separate can of worms. Either way, talking to your vet is the right first step in helping your cat regain some of his physical abilities.
Your cat…is a barfing machine
Hairballs are normal. Occasional vomiting is normal. What’s not normal is for your cat to go from hocking up something gross once or twice a month to doing it three to four times a week. Throwing up is really unpleasant for your cat, even if it is just a hairball. An evaluation from the vet can uncover whether your cat is losing more hair than he used to, for example, exacerbating his hairballs. It might also reveal he’s suffering from high acidity in his GI tract, a condition that’s easily treatable. As much as the puking grosses you out, your cat likes it even less.
At the end of the day, you are the last line of defense between your cat and a slow, stoic decline. Most feline health issues start off subtly, and cats are notorious for keeping a brave face when something’s seriously wrong. Got a gut feeling you need to make an appointment with the vet? Just do it.