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Answers from vets about your cat:

How To Tell If Your Cat's Secretly Sick

Reviewed by Peter Kintzer DVM, DACVIM on Saturday, March 15, 2014
Posted September 17, 2013 in Cat Checkups & Preventive Care

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a mobile, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. Find him online at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).

Katie Kegerise, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Reading, PA, contributed to this article

It’s always shocking to me when I see an extremely sick cat, while the owner has not noticed any overt signs of illness. It just happened twice in the last couple of weeks. Paris, a 6 year old kitty, had a gigantic (benign) cyst on his liver. It was easily the size of both your fists, putting pressure on all of his belly organs. And Paula, a 12 year old cat, had a kiwi-sized cancerous tumor along her small intestine. In both cases, the first signs of sickness were noticed just 2 days before the surgery occurred!

And I’m not referring to neglectful owners. No, I’m talking about good, concerned, caring owners who just didn’t or couldn’t notice very early or subtle hints that something was brewing inside. Why is it so tough to identify those signs? Possibly because cats have kept the ability to hide signs so well, that they sometimes go unnoticed. Remember, when animals act sick in the wild, they get eaten. [Editor's Note: Remember, bringing your cat in for regular checkups is your best way to ensure you're catching problems as early as possible. Unfortunately, far too many cats go without, making it harder to impact the course of issues that occur.]

Let’s go over 10 common signs of illness in cats – although many of them also apply to dogs.

1. Change in appetite 
Eating too much or too little can potentially signify disease. If you notice a change either way, you should notify your veterinarian. There are countless diseases that can cause overeating or losing one’s appetite. You veterinarian’s job will be to investigate why. This typically starts with blood work, X-rays and/or ultrasound.

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Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a board-certified veterinary surgeon and author. His traveling practice takes him all over Eastern Pennsylvania and Western New Jersey. You can visit his website at www.DrPhilZeltzman.com, and follow him at www.facebook.com/DrZeltzman.