Cats are sensitive creatures. They have the capacity for a wide variety of emotion: fear, embarrassment, shame, jealousy, pique and even have a rudimentary sense of humor. When your cat is ill, his behavior may surprise you. Here are ways to help your sick cat. Cats have degrees of illness just as humans do. Sometimes your cat, while not being outright sick, feels a little under the weather. How do you know when your cat isn’t feeling well, if he doesn’t have outward injuries or symptoms? Watch his behavior. He will show you.
Pain, sickness and injury confuses cats. They don’t understand it. They know that they hurt but they don’t know why. When your cat is ill, even just with a cold or minor injury, he will likely act shy, and even embarrassed. He may hide from you, especially if he is young or doesn’t know you very well yet. Cats build trust more slowly than dogs. When you have earned your cat’s trust, you have it for life. But sometimes it takes time. If your cat disappears for a awhile, or won’t come out of a particular room, chances are, he doesn’t feel well. He may not be sure how you’ll respond. This doesn’t mean that you have done anything wrong or that your cat doesn’t trust you. It just means he doesn’t understand why he feels poorly and isn’t sure that you will understand.
At other times, an injured cat will come to his caregiver immediately if he is ill. It just depends upon the animal. We have one very shy little cat who was raised by a feral mother. She has taken a liking to my husband, but not so much to me. However, one day I noticed that she had an injury. I lanced it, cleaned it and treated it. It must have hurt terribly. I thought for sure that she would hate me forever. Curiously, however, though she still prefers my husband to me, she will instinctively seek me out when she is hurt. She insists on sleeping in my room when she doesn’t feel well, but only then. That is her comfort zone.
Just as parents don’t necessarily run to the doctor every time their child is ill, a cat owner doesn’t always need to rush the cat to the vet when he is ill. There are some things that you can do to help your cat when he is feeling ill. Make a little bed for him, in a basket with lined with a soft blanket. The cat may sleep in it or he may choose another favored spot. Whatever the cat chooses, he will likely want to remain in that spot until he is feeling better. Our oldest cat instinctively seeks out our youngest son’s bed when he is ill (though why I don’t know; the place is a mess.). The cat will remain on the bed, leaving only to eat and use the litter box, but return immediately to ‘his’ bed. If the door is shut, he scratches to be let in. That seems to be his comfort zone.
In my forty years of being a cat owner (or caregiver, as they think of me), I have had numerous cats live to ripe old ages and rarely ever had to take a cat to the vet. Cats are pretty good at tending to their needs if they know that you will help them when they need it. Usually all cats want when they are ill is to rest. Cats are very appreciative of your comfort, of being petted and of knowing that they are loved.