Feline Wellness

Signs Your Cat Isn't Feeling Well

February 07, 2024

It happens to the best of us. We wake up and don’t feel so hot. When cats don’t feel well, they tend to keep it a secret, which can make it hard for their owner to get them the help they need. Here are some telltale signs that your cat might not be feeling well. When in doubt, schedule a visit with your vet.

A Change in Behavior 

If your cat is normally the life of the party and now is hiding in the closet, they likely don’t feel well. Or if they usually can’t wait for meal time and now can’t be bothered to get up at breakfast time, something is probably bothering them. Lethargy and just looking a little “blah” can be symptoms of many diseases. They might not be lifting their heads up or carrying their tails up high. They could be sleeping even more than usual. Cats are creatures of habit so when there’s a change in their routine or their behavior, take notice. 

A Change in their Coat

If your cat is looking a little unkempt they likely aren’t grooming because they don’t feel well. Their fur can appear more oily, greasy, or even matted if they aren’t properly cleaning. On the other hand, a cat may be over-grooming due to allergies or stress. In this situation, your cat may have bald spots or red patches on their skin.

Weight Loss or Gain

Losing weight is another sign that something is wrong. A classic sign of a cat who doesn’t feel well is a cat who is hunched over in a loaf position looking small and shrunken. 

When cats don’t feel well, they don’t eat. If your cat is skipping meals or only eating treats or refusing anything at all, they definitely don’t feel well. There are too many reasons to list why your cat isn’t eating so it’s best to make an appointment to see your vet for a diagnosis.

Rapid weight gain and overeating can be related to other medical issues like kidney or thyroid problems.

Increased Thirst

If your cat starts drinking a lot more water than usual, they may be suffering from kidney disease, diabetes or thyroid issues. Cats generally don’t drink that much water so when they do something is likely bothering them.

Eyes, Nose, Ears, and Mouth Issues

Cats have a third eyelid near the inner corners of their eye. Sometimes if they are sleepy, you will notice it. Otherwise, you likely won’t notice it unless they aren’t feeling well. Sick cats’ third eyelid stays out most of the time. This can be a symptom of many things ranging from a cold or allergies to more serious issues like FIP.

Discharge from the eyes and nose as well as coughing and sneezing can be signs of an upper respiratory infection. Just as with humans, some medicine and some rest should have them feeling better in a few days.

When cats develop ear infections, the pressure and the pain can cause them to tilt their heads to the side. Check in their ears and if you see a lot of discharge, they likely have an infection that requires some ear drops.

If you can take a quick look in their mouth, your cat’s gums should be a healthy bright pink. If the gums are pale or even white, that is a sign of anemia. If the gums have a yellow hue, that’s a sign of jaundice and liver issues. Veterinary care is necessary if the gums are not a healthy pink. 


If you pull up a bit of your cat’s scruff and let go and it goes down quite slowly, that’s a sign your cat is dehydrated. Hydrated skin will snap back down the body in a second or two while dehydrated skin will slump down more slowly. A dehydrated cat likely feels too ill to eat or drink.

Bad Breath

If your cat is having dental issues, their breath might smell pretty bad. Rotten teeth, gingivitis, stomatitis, or sometimes even just a kitten losing their baby teeth can lead to bad breath. Eating, especially kibble, might be painful for your cat if their teeth are bothering them so make sure they see a vet ASAP. In the meantime, you can feed them extra Love Nala wet food.

Litter Box Issues

If your cat stops using the litter box and is urinating elsewhere, they might have a medical issue like a urinary tract infection or a behavioral issue due to stress or anxiety. They should see a vet ASAP to rule out a bladder, kidney, or urinary issue.

If your cat is defecating more or less or just *differently* than usual, they likely are suffering from a medical issue that requires medicine. If your cat cries out or seems to be in pain as they go to the bathroom, they definitely need a vet visit.


It’s normal for cats to throw up after eating or vomit a hairball once in a while, but if your cat is vomiting often and for multiple days they may have an underlying issue. Monitor how often your cat is vomiting and when - after eating, after playing, or just randomly? Is there food in the vomit, or blood? Vomiting can be a symptom of anything from IBD to cancer so the more information you can give your vet, the faster they can get your fur baby feeling better. 


If your cat is crying or meowing more than usual, they may be trying to tell you that something is wrong. There’s a difference between a cat meowing for dinner and a cat in pain meowing for help. If the cat is whimpering or yowling, they are likely in pain and need your help.

As with anything, early detection is key. Be sure to keep an eye on your cat and monitor any changes in their appearance or behavior. You know your cat better than anyone so if something seems a little *off* take them to the vet if you’re able to. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

Love, Nala