Cat Symptoms: Ask A Veterinarian What They Mean

Cat Symptoms can be very similar for several different cat illnesses. For example, such cat problems as increased thirst and increased urination can indicate feline kidney disease, but could also be a marker for feline diabetes or feline hyperthyroidism or another of several elderly cat health problems.

The following letter from a reader is about cats illness symptoms which unfortunately came on suddenly and it was too late for treatment.


I lost my cat of 10 years on Saturday and I am still baffled as to what happened. My cat went into shock and I took him to the ER. His temperature was only 97 and he was shutting down.

The doctor did an xray and she said she had never seen a diaphragm look so bad. There were large pockets of gas and free fluid. His intestines looked almost twisted and she couldn't find his bladder or his stomach.

She also saw a large mass, but wasn't sure if it was a tumor.She said she could try exploratory surgery, but wasn't sure if my guy would even make it to surgery. She said he had so many issues going on she wouldn't know where to start. I chose to put him down as he was getting worse and worse.

A few months ago, he started peeing on things out of nowhere. I took him to the vet and his blood work looked good. They said it was probably behavioral. He also had recent weight loss (4 pounds-noticeable in the past 2 weeks), but I thought it was because I stopped letting him sleep with me because I had just had surgery.

My question is: Did I miss something here? Do you have any suggestions of what cat illness my cat may have had? He never displayed any cat symptoms of illness, never stopped playing or eating or drinking until that morning when everything shut down. Any information you could provide would be helpful to ease my own mind.

Thank You,

Dear Michelle,

First of all, I have to say how deeply sorry I am for your loss of your precious kitty. It is never easy and I have found it to be the most difficult when it is sudden and we don't know the reason.

It is common for pet owners to go through a period of blaming themselves regardless of the cause of death. Most often, it is not the owner's fault at all and, in your case, it certainly doesn't sound like you did anything wrong.

A feline with cat symptoms including 4 pounds of weight loss and fluid in his abdomen is most often a very sick cat with a poor prognosis. Such an ill kitty is not likely to be a good risk for surgery, and surgery in such cases is rarely helpful anyway.

Cat symptoms such as fluid in the abdomen can result from such diseases as feline kidney disease, feline hepatitis, liver failure from any number of cat liver problems, cancer of pretty much any organ in the abdomen, and several other feline illnesses. The fluid, the disease causing it and 4 pounds of weight loss are not your fault and are most often an impossible battle to fight.

Feline Hepatic Lipidosis is a disorder that most cat owners do not know about. This disorder is most often caused by rapid weight loss. There may be some other primary disease leading to the weight loss, but the primary disease can resolve itself and yet the "fatty liver" syndrome that sets in as a result of the weight loss will continue to make the cat very ill and even lead to death if not quickly and aggressively treated.

Any of the above and more could be responsible for the cat symptoms your kitty experienced. It is not unusual for cats to seem fine one day and very ill the next. They tend not to appear ill until the disease is advanced.

The only thing you could have done differently would have been to request a necropsy (autopsy) by your veterinarian if you really wanted to know the answer. However, I feel quite comfortable assuring you that your kitty did not have a treatable disease and you did the right thing.

Again, I am very sorry for your loss and for the suddenness of it. I have been in your shoes as have so many loving cat owners around the world and it is enormously difficult. I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers and time will also help you heal.

Dr. Neely

Click Here To Read About How Great Cat Health Insurance Is

Click Here to leave Cat Symptoms
and Return to our HOME page