How to Care For a Sick Cat

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Veterinarian Care for your Cat

If you suspect that cat is sick and you do not know what is wrong with it your first step should be to visit the veterinarian. Some symptoms of problems are lethargy, fever, vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss, refusal of food or water, excessive drinking, behavior changes, panting like a dog, seizures. Always call a veterinarian should in regards to how bad the symptoms are in relationship to how urgent it is that the cat see a vet.

Kittens, older cats, and those who are not vaccinated are at greatest risk of serious health concerns and therefore should nearly always see a veterinarian at the appearance of health symptoms. Cats who go outside (even if they are vaccinated) are also at risk, not just for sickness, but for other problems that many require veterinarian attention (poisoning, parasite infection).

Proper veterinarian care is the first step in looking after a sick cat. If your cat requires medication in the form of pills be sure to get somebody to show you how to give the pills.

You should note that while most veterinarians are Monday to Friday only, some are open on Saturday, and nearly all offer after hours emergency service at an extra charge. If you suspect your cat is sick it is better not to wait too long because if it gets worse the treatment itself may be more costly, or it may even be too late.

Home Care

A cat that is not feeling well should be kept indoors. Even if the cat is not contagious the stress of being outside will slow the recovery process. Some sick cats hide and if they get worse you will not know.  You may even find it best to confine the cat to a room with its food, water, and litter box, so it can get more rest.

Use only stainless steel or ceramic bowls for food and water, plastic bowls can contain bacteria.

The cat’s water bowl should be dumped and refreshed with clean drinking water 2-4 times a day as this also encourages more drinking.

The sick cat should be given unlimited dry food, and some canned food several times throughout the day, unless instructed differently by your veterinarian. This is best if it is chicken pate food, not “chunks in gravy” you can even add a bit of warm water to make it into a soup. You may give 3-5 small feedings (with each feeding being about a tablespoon of canned food) of this every day to help your cat get its strength back.

If the cat has a respiratory infection it may help to provide it with a humidifier.

Monitor the cat to be sure it is improving, if the cat’s symptoms get worse you should call your veterinarian.

Do not bring any new cats into the home. If your cat is contagious you should also avoid visiting people who have cats as you can spread some diseases (particularly viral ones) on your clothes or shoes. It is very important to avoid being around kittens, unvaccinated cats, or senior cats, as these cats are more vulnerable to becoming ill, if you have a sick cat at home.

You can provide a hot water bottle for the cat, wrap this in a towel and place so the cat can use it or not depending on how it feels. You can note whether the cat is enjoying this and if so you should continue to provide it. Make sure young kittens do not become overheated though.

If your cat needs pills the easiest way to give this is by opening its mouth and pushing the pill to the back of the throat, then hold the cat’s mouth shut be sure it swallows.  This is best done in a bathroom with a helper.  Watch the cat for a few minutes to make sure it does not spit the pill out, some cats take pills better than others, but they rarely eat them out of their food dish. 

Be sure to use up all medication your cat was prescribed, even if your cat starts to look better.


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