The Subtlety of Pets and Health

We recently had a guest at the cats-only boarding facility who was very sick. We just didn’t know it.

This particular cat is one who comes to stay with us every few months. She’s an older lady of fourteen, with no apparent health issues and a love of a good brushing. As compared to other guests, she’s a quiet one. She’s happy to curl up on her fleece blanket most of the day, watching the world go by.

But out of nowhere, she threw up one morning. A few days after that, one of my coworkers noticed a strange smell in the room. One of the vet techs came over at our request to investigate, and found a very sick cat. The quiet old girl was suffering from a variety of problems, including kidney failure, liver problems, heart problems, and untreated diabetes.

Neither her owners nor her caretakers (us) knew anything was wrong. It turns out that she’s been sick for quite some time — and hiding the symptoms.

Some pets are drama queens and kings. When they’re not feeling well, they play it up for sympathy and attention. Other pets are secret-keepers. They might seem perfectly normal until whatever’s wrong becomes too much for them to bear silently.

It falls upon the owners to know their pets intimately. The better you know your furry family members, the sooner you’ll notice any changes. Some subtle signs that your pet may be in pain or sick:

  • Changes in sleeping habits.
  • Changes in behavior. A usually solitary pet seeking constant company, for example, or a normally quiet pet becoming very chatty.
  • Changes in eating habits. Dramatic weight loss or weight gain. (Our sick guest had lost three pounds over the last six months — in a ten pound cat, that’s a pretty big difference.)
  • Grooming changes — the coat may become dull, greasy, or otherwise unkempt.

If you have any concerns about your pet’s health, you should talk to your veterinarian as soon as possible!