Why is my cat being sick? Symptoms, causes, and solutions

Smiling woman pets a ginger cat on her lap on the couch.

Owning a cat is a source of joy and comfort (and cuddles!) in your life. While you might find endless strands of cat hair on your clothes, furniture, and possibly every surface imaginable, the endless fun, love, and companionship you receive from your feline friend make every bit of cleanup totally worth it. But if you’ve noticed some abnormal behaviour, and you’re wondering, “is my cat sick?” learn about some basic cat illness symptoms to look out for, potential causes of illness in cats, and how to treat a sick cat at home.  

Is my cat being sick? How to know if my cat is sick?

You know your cat better than anyone else, so if you’ve noticed a change in their behaviour and habits, then it could alert you that something is not quite right. The way your cat behaves can tell you a lot about their health. If you suspect that your cat is being sick, there are a few symptoms you can watch out for. Here are some signs of illness in cats: 

  • Lower energy levels. As a rule of thumb, a cat that is feeling unwell will have less energy. They might sleep more, seem slower and more tired than usual.1  
  • Change in behaviour. Has your cat lost their playfulness out of the blue? Are they hiding themselves away, when they usually enjoy interacting with people, getting cuddles and lots of attention? These could be signs that your cat is sick.1
  • Eating habits. Loss of appetite or, on the contrary, overeating, can be a sign that your cat isn’t feeling well.1
  • Drinking more or drinking less. Similarly, if there's a noticeable change in how much your cat drinks, then it could be that your cat is feeling poorly. Drinking a lot more or a lot less than usual can be a sign of underlying health issues in cats, and should be monitored.2
  • Digestive troubles. Keep an eye on your cat’s litter box! Diarrhoea is a common cat illness symptom.3 


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  • Grooming differences. A sick cat may groom too much or too little. Overgrooming could be an attempt to relieve allergy symptoms,4 and a cat grooming too little could indicate pain or discomfort.5 
  • Breathing issues. If your cat is wheezing, coughing, or breathing rapidly, these could be signs that they’re unwell.6 If your cat is struggling to breathe, you should contact your vet immediately. 
  • Physical changes. Look out for weight loss, a bloated belly, or any unusual lumps.1

These are some signs to look out for if you’re wondering “is my cat sick?” and “how to tell if my cat is sick.” Remember, if you’re observing some of those symptoms or are worried about your cat’s abrupt changes of behaviour, always reach out to your vet to get it clarified.


Our feline friends bring us so much joy. It’s only right that we’re there for them when they need us, just as they’re there for our cuddle time. Part of being there for our fluffy friend is getting stuck into the chores, like keeping the cat litter smelling fresh.

Why is my cat sick? Potential causes

Now that you’ve seen the signs, it’s time to dive into the causes of sickness in cats. Understanding why your cat is sick can often help in finding the right solution. Here are some common causes that could explain why your cat is being sick: 

  1. Infections.Why is my cat being sick?” you may ask. Viruses, bacteria, or parasites can all lead to your cat being sick. Regular vaccinations and treatment against parasites can help minimise this risk.7
  2. Chronic diseases. Conditions like diabetes, thyroid issues, or kidney disease may develop, especially as cats age, in which cases a special nutrition plan would be required.8
  3. Injuries. Sometimes, your cat might be acting different because they’ve been hurt while playing or exploring. If you see a change in behaviour in your cat, or if they become defensive when you try to pet them on a certain body part, look out for signs of injuries, or take them to the vet for an x-ray.9
  4. Poisoning. Cats can be poisoned by common household items like certain plants, medications, chemicals, and even some human foods.10,11 So keep an eye on your cat as they wander around the house, to make sure that they don’t eat anything they’re not supposed to! If a cat is continuously vomiting and is getting weak, take them to the vet immediately. 
  5. Stress. Stress can affect anyone: your loved ones, yourself, and even your feline friends! A stressed cat can develop emotional and physical symptoms.12


We all want our furry little friends to be healthy. We also want them to stop peeing on the carpet. If you’ve walked across the carpet and felt a little squelch under your foot, well, it’s helpful to remember all of the cute and cuddly times. After you’ve soaked it up, you might want to learn how to get the smell of the cat pee out of the carpet...

How to treat a sick cat at home

Once you’ve spotted that your cat is sick, take them to a vet to clarify it. Then, there will be ways to provide comfort at home. Here are some important things to think about to help a cat that is being sick: 

  • Rest. Make sure that your cat gets the rest they need! 
  • Quiet and comfortable space. Cats love being cosy and it seems like they can fall asleep absolutely anywhere, including on your lap when you’re desperate for the loo. But even nearly wetting yourself and having a lap full of cat hair is a small price to pay for those cute cuddles. Still, it’s a good idea to provide a calm and cosy area for your cat. They’ll be grateful for it. 
  • Hydration. Make sure that they have access to fresh water and that they stay hydrated. 
  • Nutrition. A sick cat should be eating well to recover and regain energy! Your vet can advise you on the food you should and should not offer your cat, depending on their situation.13 If your cat has been sick, try feeding them smaller portions more frequently throughout the day. 
  • Medication. If prescribed by a vet, ensure your cat takes their medication as instructed. 
  • Monitoring. Keep a close eye on any changes in their condition, and contact your vet if anything seems abnormal. 
  • Cuddles, love and attention. Pay attention to your cat’s emotional needs (whether that’s increased cuddles or giving them the space they so love!) to let them know that you care for them, and want them to get better!

Being prepared and learning how to treat a sick cat at home is a great way to take care of your feline friend. While there are a few things that you can do to help a sick cat feel better, recognising when to get professional help is crucial. If your cat is showing persistent symptoms, or if their condition seems to worsen, it’s time to visit the vet – they’ll be able to diagnose and offer treatment.

Despite the flurry of fur, scattered litter, and the occasional knocked-over vase, we love our cats deeply; embracing the chaotic zoomies is a small price for their affection and quirky companionship. Cats are not just pets; they’re family. Their wellbeing affects everyone in the household, from children who play with them to the elderly who find companionship in their presence.

That’s why it’s important to know the cat illness symptoms to look out for, as well as how to treat a sick cat at home, to provide the care they need. Hopefully, they’ll be back on their paws in no time! Why not learn how to take care of your sick dog next?

*Winner General Household Category. Survey of 8,000 people in UK & ROI 

** *Length of roll when compared to Plenty Original 


1 Cats.org, Common cat illnesses

2 International Cat Care, Increased thirst and drinking

3 PDSA, Diarrhoea in cats

4 PetMD, Why Cats Overgroom and How You Can Stop It

5 Sandia Animal Clinic, Why Cats Stop Grooming Themselves

6 PDSA, Breathing problems in cats

7 Cats Protection, Potential causes of cats being sick

8 ASPCA, Common Cat Diseases

9 Battersea, How Do I Tell If My Cat Is In Pain?

10 RSPCA, Poisoning in Cats

11 Battersea, What Can’t Cats Eat

12 Cats.org, Cat Stress

13 VCA Animal Hospitals, Caring for Your Sick Cat


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