How do I Care for a Sick Cat?

J.M. Densing

When you have a sick cat, it's important to seek appropriate veterinary care. There are also several things that can be done at home to take care of the cat and keep it comfortable. To care for a sick cat, follow your veterinarian's instructions for treatment, monitor its symptoms, provide a comfortable place for it to rest and recuperate, and ensure that it eats and drinks enough. Changes in diet and assistance with eating may be necessary to make sure the cat gets adequate nutrition, and blankets might be required to keep it warm. The key is to provide whatever support your cat needs until it recovers.

A sick cat may be lethargic or depressed.
A sick cat may be lethargic or depressed.

It's an unusual occurrence for a pet cat to become sick, particularly if it is kept indoors. When you have a sick cat, a little extra tender loving care and companionship can help it feel better. If symptoms seem severe, or last more than a day or two, the cat should be brought to see a veterinarian. The vet can properly diagnose the cat and advise on appropriate treatment to help it recover, or keep it comfortable if the illness is incurable. The vet may choose to keep the cat for treatment for a while and then advise home care.

Owners should check a little box for signs of illness in a cat.
Owners should check a little box for signs of illness in a cat.

The most important thing to remember when caring for your sick cat is to follow the veterinarian's treatment instructions. As part of the plan of care, you may need to give the cat medication or take its temperature. Ask the vet to show you how to perform these tasks, and try them first with his or her supervision. It may also be necessary to monitor and record the cat's behavior and functioning to discuss with the vet.

When caring for the sick cat at home, it's important to provide a cozy place for it to rest. A quiet area of the house is best, with a litterbox, fresh water and food nearby. The cat will need a comfortable warm bed with washable blankets, and you may want to confine it to a small area so that it's easier to monitor its condition. If the cat is weak, you may need to help it to use the litterbox, or have plenty of newspaper or disposable pads available if it's unable to get into the box.

Good nutrition is vital to help your sick cat recover. Often when a cat is ill, it will lose its appetite, but tasty nutritious food supplemented with its favorite treats may encourage it to eat. Clean, fresh water is also necessary for health and can be flavored if needed to interest the cat in drinking more. If it isn't able to eat and drink independently, you may want to feed it by hand and offer a bottle for hydration. Spending extra time with the cat and treating it with lots of affection will also help it to feel better.

It's unusual for house cats to get sick.
It's unusual for house cats to get sick.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments


@Phaedrus, our last cat was especially good at hiding her ailments. We had no idea she had cancer until she finally stopped getting out of her bed in the morning. Our doctor gave us the bad news one week, and she was gone the next. Cats can be very good at hiding sickness, so it's up to us to learn what normal and abnormal look like.


My older cat is usually pretty healthy, but a few weeks ago he decided to assume the position for defecating on our living room rug. He's usually good about using his litter box, but that night he squatted down several times and tried to defecate. Nothing happened. We took him to an emergency vet that night and she ran several tests. The x-rays showed several large masses in his colon. He had a chronic case of constipation, which can be fatal for a cat.

The emergency vet did almost everything that a human doctor could do for a patient. She started an IV, administered powerful laxatives, manipulated his abdomen and gave him several enemas. Our regular vet took over the next morning, doing even more exams and x-rays. We took him home that night and waited for him to pass the obstructions naturally. Those veterinarians went above and beyond the call of duty to make sure our sick cat got better.

Post your comments
Forgot password?