by Justine Lee, DVM
1. Listlessness If your normally active cat or dog would suddenly rather sleep than play, don’t excuse this behavior as mere exhaustion. It’s actually the first, subtle sign your pet can give that something is very wrong. Rush your kitty or pup to a vet–his aloofness could mean he’s suffering from a potentially life-threatening illness, such as a urinary obstruction, kidney disease, pancreatitis, or cancer.
2. Vomiting and coughing A cat will throw up a hairball now and then, but vomiting more than once a month could indicate kidney failure or inflammatory bowel disease. Coughing, meanwhile, is never normal. It’s often caused by asthma, which can lead to severe chronic lung disease or death without treatment. If your cat is diagnosed, an emergency inhaler and oral medication can help ease symptoms.
3. Frequent urination attempts if your male cat is squatting and straining, he might have a feline urethral obstruction (the tip of a cat’s urethra gets clogged by grit or mucous plugs). Having such an obstruction means your cat can’t urinate for days, resulting in severe pain, temporary kidney failure, and even death. If you own a male dog, similar symptoms can mean bladder stones or other obstructions. Your vet can remove the blockage or operate if needed.