When to Take Your Cat to the Vet
Cats are notorious in their ability to mask discomfort, pain, and illness. It is best to err on the side of caution - at least call your vet with your cat's symptoms, or better yet, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.
The following are just a few signs that should cause you to seek veterinary attention:
Ataxia - unsteady gait or staggering. Possible causes include middle ear infections, neurological disease, or poisoning.
Straining to Eliminate - using great effort to urinate or defecate, especially while vocalizing. Possible causes are severe constipation, urinary tract disease, or lower urinary tract obstruction. The latter is common in males and can be fatal. Immediate veterinary care is critical.
Vomiting - vomiting several times within the hour, especially if blood appears in the vomitus, the cat is lethargic, or refuses to eat. Possible causes include ingestion of a foreign object, liver and kidney disease, gastrointestinal problems, and poisoning.
Diarrhea - diarrhea is a symptom of many conditions or diseases. Diarrhea may cause the cat to suffer from dehydration, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, high fever, lethargy, bloody and/or watery stools. Possible causes are stomach or intestinal viruses, intestinal parasites, dietary indiscretions (i.e., eating garbage or other offensive or irritating materials), inflammatory bowel disease, neoplasia, fungal or bacterial infection, hyperthyroidism, and loss of pancreatic function. If diarrhea is persistent, immediate vet care is vital.
Hemorrhage - any bleeding from a body opening, the eye, or the inner ear, or pulsating blood from a cut or wound. Even if the bleeding stops, the cat should be seen immediately by a vet.
Change in Gum Color - if any change in a cat's normally pink gums become white, blue, yellow, or bright red, see a vet immediately. White or pale gums may indicate anemia or systemic shock; blue gums from breathing problems; yellow gums from red blood cell destruction, liver disease, or gall bladder disease; red gums from septic shock or severe infection.
Lameness - any limping, neck or back pain, or the inability to use one or more limbs requires veterinary attention. Possible causes include bony infection, fractures, abnormal blood clotting, or heart disease.
Breathing Difficulties - any labored breathing requires immediate veterinary attention. Possible causes include asthma, lung disease, foreign body aspiration, severe upper respiratory illness, or cardiovascular disease.
Seizures - any spasm or convulsion including disorientation, twitching, or apparent loss of ability to recognize surroundings require immediate vet care. Possible causes include idiopathic epilepsy, liver or kidney disease, low blood sugar, infection or inflammation of the central nervous system, or a brain tumor.
Sudden Blindness - walking into walls or appears unable to see, immediate vet attention is vital. Possible causes include retinal detachment, liver insufficiency, or glaucoma.
Abdominal Problems - pawing at abdomen, adoption of a "praying" position, or laying on the ground with legs tucked underneath the body, resentment of abdominal manipulation. Possible causes are abdominal bleeding, organ rupture, or inflammation of the abdominal wall lining.
Lumps, Bumps, Swelling - any local swelling of any size on your cat could be an abscess but it could also be a tumor (benign or malignant), cyst, insect bite, hematoma, fracture, or soft tissue trauma (sprain, pocket of fluid such as infected oil gland). Vet care should immediate.