Is your cat lethargic, or seems to lack energy and spunk? Does your cat refuse to eat or drink? Do you just know that your cat is not acting normally? For example, your cat loves to watch birds and ignores one that flies right in front of him?

If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, this may mean that your cat is not feeling well. When cats are ill, their behavior often changes and they may hide or avoid human contact. Any sort of physical illness will impact your cat’s attitude, and depending on the degree of stress caused by any illness or disease process, your cat may act slightly—or dramatically– different from his or her normal state.

Cats are very good at hiding signs of illness, which means they are masters of pretending to be normal when they really aren’t. Because they are such good actors, your cat might be very sick by the time it becomes apparent that there is a problem.

Cats and Lethargy

For cats, fevers are a common cause of lethargy and might be the result of an infection. Cats that are lethargic or sedated is frequently a sick cat. Older cats might be experiencing age-related body changes, and arthritis and/or joint disease will certainly slow down most cats. In fact, any number of diseases, from heart conditions to cancer, can alter a cat’s attitude and behavior. Happily, for most conditions that cause lethargy, there are medical treatments that can restore your cat’s health and quality of life.

So, What Should You Do?

  1. Know what is normal behavior for your cat.
  2. When you notice your cat acting differently, call your veterinarian. Don’t delay.
  3. Your veterinarian can diagnose what is wrong, and get your cat on the road to recovery.
  4. Trust your instincts. You know your cat. If you sense that something is different or wrong, chances are likely that you are right.

Contributed by Dr. Cathy Lund, DVM