The flu is going around y’all – and since I have it, let me be the first to tell you, I don’t recommend it. It’s gnarly.
I’m not exactly the world’s best patient to begin with. When I get sick, I turn into a big whiny man-child with the pain threshold of an exposed nerve. Just ask my partner, Andrew – who in my opinion qualifies as a saint for his ability to put up with my drama fueled coughing, sneezing and aching. Seriously, the man should have a statue erected in his honor for the level of caring and patience he demonstrates while I’m being a complete baby.
So while yes, I do have the tendency to over emphasis my distress at having to deal with annoying cold symptoms, I have to say this time my theatrics were 100% on point with how truly horrendous and overpowering this flu has been.
I’ll give you an example. The other night I ended up sleeping on the floor next to my bed for a couple of hours because when I got up, I got so dizzy, I tried to sit back down but missed the bed and landed on the ground. I didn’t have the strength to get back up, so I just stayed there while my comfortable bed taunted me a few inches away.
I ended up in the same place last night because I discovered it was the only place I didn’t feel nauseous. So yeah, I’m really winning at life right now.
Am I a drama queen? Absolutely. But this flu was like, “Oh I’ll show you drama!”
It’s the Meryl Streep of flus.
Cats aren’t known to be nearly as dramatic when they are feeling sick though – so it is often not at all obvious that your feline friend is feeling sick.
Of course there are the obvious tell-tale signs: vomiting or diarrhea.
Believe it or not though, there are a bunch of not-so-obvious signals that your cat might be ill. Here are some things to pay attention to if you ever worry your cat might be sick:
Loss of appetite can be normal for cats but it still should not be ignored. If your cat skips the occasional meal but otherwise eats normally, then you should watch closely for trends. If your cat stops eating entirely or is only eating tiny amounts, that’s a problem. Lack of eating for even a few days can lead to a serious problem called fatty liver or hepatic lipidosis.
Increased appetite may also be a concern, especially if it comes on suddenly in an older cat. Hypothyroidism may be the explanation – and some easy tests run by a veterinarian can help you rule that out.
Weight changes in cats are always concerning, whether it’s gain or loss. Either might be a sign of an underlying health problem.
Lethargy is a sign of a problem, even if it’s subtle. I know what you’re thinking. How the heck can I tell the difference between normal cat laziness and too much? When you live with a pet, you do get to know their rhythms – so trust your instincts here.
Increased thirst can mean many things in cats. Most often it means there is a problem with the kidneys or urinary tract. Many owners never even see their cats drink water. So, if you start noticing your cat near the water dish more than before, it means something.
Changes in urination often indicate a urinary tract issue or kidney problem. If you notice a change in frequency or quantity of urine, inappropriate urination, or blood in the urine, it’s time to go to the kitty doctor. If your cat is straining to urinate and nothing is coming out, this might be an emergency (a particularly painful one), especially in male cats.
Changes in breathing like wheezing, rapid breathing, shortness of breath, and raspy breathing should never be ignored..
Discharge from eyes or nose indicates a possible upper respiratory infection. This can make your cat feel ill and stop eating. It may be contagious to other cats in your home. Your vet may recommend medications to help your cat recover faster.
Ear debris or discharge might mean your cat has an ear infection or even parasites like ear mites. Waiting to address this may cause the eardrum to become affected. Plus, it is very uncomfortable for your cat – and he’ll probably figure out a way to take his discomfort out on you.
Skin irritation or hair loss may be a sign of allergies, external parasites, or another skin condition. It’s also likely painful or itchy.
Increased vocalization may mean your cat is sick, in pain, stressed, or just bored. It’s a good idea to rule out a health issue first before you explore the behavioral side of this issue.
Overgrooming may be behavioral, but it could also mean your cat has a skin issue or is in pain.
Personality changes may be normal when they happen over time, especially as your cat ages. However, if your normally friendly cat is showing aggression, or your happy, confident cat is suddenly acting afraid, there is a need to further explore with your vet. If your cat seems confused or disoriented, then it’s an even more urgent situation.
Tis the season for colds and flus – so please take extra care to be healthy for yourself and for your pets!