It is never easy to see your beloved cat feeling ill. As a fur parent, it is very important to know when your cat is sick and needs help. Sometimes, your feline may experience a simple stomach problem, loss of appetite, or lethargy. With the right care, it may be possible that these symptoms can be treated at home and your cat can recover on his own.
However, severe symptoms should never be ignored. Consult your vet right away if you think your cat is not responding to home treatments and is getting worse.
Provide general care and special needs
A sick kitty requires your love, care, attention, and patience. Make sure you provide your furry friend with these basic needs to make him feel a little better.
First, give him a warm bed in an isolated place away from distractions, noise, and other people or pets at home. Let your cat spend some alone time while he recuperates from his condition. Make sure that a litter box is placed near his bed for easy access, but not so near that it makes him uncomfortable.
You could also provide a small enclosure in which he can feel secure while resting. Adding a heat source like a heating pad or heat lamp, set to the lowest setting, can also help keep your feline warm and comfortable.
Keep the cat indoors
For a cat that is not feeling well, being outdoors may not be good for them. You want to make sure your cat is safe from the outside world, and that you are able to keep an eye on him. Keeping your cat indoors allows you to closely monitor any changes and provide the right care to speed his recovery.
Feed nutritious meals
The amount and kind of food to feed your sick cat will depend on his condition. Unless your vet recommends otherwise, try to give your cat his regular, balanced meals. If he refuses to eat, you can try feeding him by hand. You can also blend the kibble with water and some low-sodium broth until you achieve a mushy texture. Your cat is sure to love it.
Cats also love tuna, so you can try feeding him his favorite canned goods to encourage him to eat. Also, try warming your cat’s food to make it more appealing and tasty. Look for high-quality cat foods recommended by the Association of American Feed Control Officials. The goal is to ensure that your cat gets enough nutrition for faster recovery. Do not try to feed him unfamiliar foods, as this may discourage him from eating.
Keep your feline well-hydrated
Healthy cats do not usually drink lots of water, and sick ones may drink even less. Fortunately, there are ways to help your cat stay hydrated.
First is to offer a clean and fresh bowl of drinking water. Make sure it is accessible for your cat. You can place the bowl near his bed, or put several bowls in multiple areas of the house where your kitty usually goes.
Most cats love to drink from a water fountain, so try to invest in one if you can. Water dripping from the faucet is also appealing to some cats, but this may contain a lot of chemicals. Feeding your sick feline with bottled water may be more beneficial than tap water.
Aside from freshwater, you can also feed your cat with low-sodium tuna juice or chicken broth, but don’t leave it in the bowl too long as it may go bad. Any leftovers should be thrown away.
Lots of petting
Most cats love the warmth of their fur parents, so don’t deprive your sick kitty of petting and snuggles. This is the moment he most needs your warm presence. Gently pet your cat when he is awake, but never bother him while he is asleep. As much as possible, try not to leave him alone.
A soft cotton-ball bath is also recommended by veterinarians since this mimics another cat taking good care of them. It also provides warmth and comfort. And, since it mimics the feeling of being groomed by another cat, your kitty may reduce his grooming time so he can save his energy and get more rest.
Groom your cat
Grooming is beneficial for ill cats because they may not be able to take care of themselves so well. Try brushing his fur to soothe your sick feline. Brush gently while you inspect for any signs of skin problems. Let this be an opportunity to emotionally bond with your cat while you try to comfort him.
Provide the right medication
Medication is very important. If your vet has advised certain treatments, do adhere to these religiously. Follow the instructions included in the medicine package or as directed by the doctor. Never stop giving the medications, even if you think your cat is already feeling better. Finish the treatment period unless your vet advises differently.
One important thing: Never give your cat human medicines, as this can cause unknown side effects. Also do not administer medicines that are prescribed for other cats – your kitty may have different needs, even if he shows the same symptoms.
How to give tablets to your cat
Administering medicines to your sick feline may pose some challenges. Your cat may find it unenjoyable and feel increasingly irritated the more you force medicines into his mouth. To avoid a struggle between you and your cat, there are some effective steps you can follow to ensure that he takes his medicine.
- First, try to make your cat feel comfortable by gently talking to him and petting him. Approach him calmly to avoid him becoming suspicious and to minimize stress.
- Kneel down on the floor and let your cat sit comfortably between your legs. You can also use other flat surfaces, such as a tabletop where you can secure your cat behind your arms.
- Prepare the tablet in one hand while the other hand secures his head upwards, facing away from you.
- Using your thumb and index finger, gently press the side of his jaws until his mouth opens. At this point, your cat may become a little defensive and try to escape you. Make sure you hold him securely against your body so you can easily restrain any movements. Monitor for signs of anger or distress to lessen the risk of getting bitten or scratched.
- Quickly drop the medicine on his tongue, as close to the back of the mouth as you can.
- Close his mouth while gently rubbing his throat for a few seconds to encourage swallowing. You can also drop a little water into his mouth to help him swallow, but not too much as this may cause him to choke.
- Once you feel your cat has swallowed the medicine, try to open his mouth and check the insides of his lips to see if you can spot the tablet. If not, then you have successfully administered the medicine.
- If your cat did not swallow the tablet or pill, let him spit it out and repeat the process.
- Finally, give your cat lots of petting and treats after he has taken his medicine. The reward will help him develop a positive association between medicines and treats so you will not have trouble giving him medicines in the future.
How to care for a vomiting cat
Vomiting, when accompanied by other symptoms, may indicate a serious condition such as digestive tract problems. Make sure to call your vet before taking any other action.
Then, give your sick feline a bowl of freshwater. Withhold any food within 24 to 48 hours until his digestive system returns to normal. Monitor how he responds and check whether he continues to vomit after having the water.
When your cat stops vomiting, try feeding him with small meals, three to six times a day. Make sure you are feeding a bland diet to avoid upsetting his stomach again. Examples of bland foods are boiled skinless chicken or fish.
After a few days, you can begin to increase the amount of food gradually. Start mixing the bland foods with a small portion of his regular meals. Check how your cat responds to this food. If he cannot handle the food mixture, wait for up to two days before trying the mix again. Then, gradually increase the ratio of regular food to bland food.
After some time, your cat’s stomach problems should subside. By then, he should be okay with eating his regular meals again.
When to take your cat to the vet
While there are ways you can give temporary relief or first aid to your ill cat, there are specific situations where a trip to the vet is necessary.
If your cat exhibits any of the symptoms below, do not hesitate to take him to the vet as soon as possible:
- Signs of distress such as howling, crying, or hiding
- Sudden change in litter box behavior, such as urinating outside his litter box, crying and straining while urinating or defecating, or excessively licking his genitals
- Loss of appetite
- Repeated vomiting
- Signs of fatigue
- Shallow breathing, panting, or coughing
- Dragging his back legs, also known as aortic thromboembolism
- Presence of lumps or bumps
- Unusual discharge from the nose or eyes
- Signs of trauma, especially after an accident or a fight with other animals
- Signs of infection
The bottom line
Just like humans, cats may occasionally get sick. With the right care, some symptoms can be treated at home without going to the vet. Keeping an eye on your sick feline to ensure he gets enough rest, nutrition, and hydration until he recovers is very important. However, any changes to his behavior accompanied by other symptoms such as signs of pain, loss of appetite, or unusual discharge can be serious.
A visit to the vet will help you rule out any serious health problems for your cat. Early diagnosis will help speed his recovery and improve his quality of life.
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