Caring for a Sick Cat


There are few times in life more upsetting than when a pet is sick. They can lose all their usual energy, become aggressive and withdrawn, and even though they can’t tell you what’s wrong, their posture paints a picture of their pain and distress. 

Today we’re taking a look at what you can do to care for a sick pet, so whether your cat has diarrhoea or has picked up an injury from a territory dispute, you’ll be able to provide the best care.

How Serious is the Problem?

The first thing you need to do is try to work out how serious the problem is for your cat. Many digestive issues like vomiting and diarrhea are caused by your cat eating something that disagrees with it and will solve themselves in a day or so.

You need to be able to identify the symptoms that might mean a visit to the vet: 

  • Dehydration

This can be tested by softly pulling up the skin on the back of a cat’s neck: if it snaps back quickly your cat is well hydrated. If it remains slack, they need water.

  • Weight loss

This is a problem you may not notice unless you run your hands along your cat’s back or ribcage, so give your cat regular strokes! If the bones are standing out – and especially if your cat is normally overweight – then something serious could be wrong.

  • Losing fur

This is a difficult symptom to miss, but you may mistake it for regular moulting. If your cat’s fur is coming out in patches and leaving bald spots, there is a problem that could require a vet’s attention.

Making cats comfortable

Whether you’re waiting for a vet’s appointment, nursing a cat with an upset stomach, or waiting for medication to kick in, it’s important you can keep your pet cat comfortable and happy when it’s feeling less than its independent self.

When ill, many cats become withdrawn, and they could become aggressive or stressed if they don’t have somewhere safe to retreat to. Try to prepare a comfortable box or basket somewhere in the house where they won’t be disturbed by other pets or children.  Keep this shelter at a comfortable temperature: provide blankets if it’s cold, shade (or even cool packs) if it’s hot.

Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh water to hand. Many illnesses will leave cats dehydrated, if only because they lack the energy to seek out water to drink. Make keeping hydrated easy for them. 

Some cats shun contact when they’re sick, while others become more needy. Try to gauge your cat’s mood and follow its lead: keep calm and provide comfort if it needs it, otherwise leave it be. Forcing cuddles on a sick or injured cat when it doesn’t want them can make things worse!