Is Your Cat Lethargic? Some Common Causes And Natural Remedies
Molly Weinfurter - January 5th, 2021
Accuracy Review & Edit: Nicole Wanner, DVM - August 24th 2021
Cats are masters of hiding illnesses, so how do you distinguish their typical laziness from pain or depression? Most importantly, how do you know if your cat is lethargic?
This article will cover the basics of keeping lethargic cats healthy, along with some common causes and natural remedies.
Table Of Contents
- Why is my cat lethargic?
- Accompanying side effects
- When to go to the vet
- How to help a lethargic cat naturally
Why is my cat lethargic?
If your cat seems to have low energy and isn't as interested in their daily routines, they might be lethargic. Lethargy is a common symptom of many health problems, including kidney disease, diabetes, and food poisoning. It's difficult to tell the cause without paying attention to the other signs.
Cats naturally sleep a lot throughout the day, so a lazy cat is not necessarily a concern. Most cats will nap for 12 to 16 hours each day to save up energy for hunting. If you notice your cat sleeping more than usual, that's a sign of lethargy, especially when paired with other unusual behaviors.
Sometimes lethargy is due to old age in cats. When most animals enter their senior years, they start to slow down and rest more. However, if you suspect that it's due to something more serious than age, then it can't hurt to contact your vet.
Accompanying side effects
If your cat has other unusual behaviors and side effects along with lethargy, that's when you should be concerned. Importantly, cats will not make it obvious to you that they are hurting, so you’ll need to watch them closely. Here are some common cat lethargy side effects and what they could mean.
- Drooling - While it's common for some dogs to drool, it's an immediate concern when cats do it. Cats usually drool when they're in pain. It’s often related to a dental problem, such as stomatitis (sores in the mouth) or gum disease.
- Weak - On top of low energy, your cat could also experience severe weakness. Weak cats might have trouble supporting their body or moving as usual. Kidney disease, diabetes, and heart disease are all common health problems associated with weakness in felines.
- Won't eat - Cats generally aren't as food-motivated as dogs, but a loss of appetite can indicate something is wrong. That's why drugs like Mirtazapine for cats exist. Infections, kidney failure, pancreatitis, and even cancer could make your cat not eat their food as eagerly.
- Not drinking - In addition to a lack of appetite, lethargic cats could also have a lack of thirst. Serious diseases like liver disease and cancer could stop your cat from wanting to drink. Dental problems, such as periodontal disease, could also make your cat drink less because it could be painful for them.
- Hiding - Some cats have a habit of hiding, but they might hide more often if something is wrong. In most cases, cats will hide because they're frightened or need alone time. Yet, cats may also hide when they're in pain, such as if they sustained an injury. It's unlikely that they'll let you know of this pain, so you should keep an eye on them.
- Eye discharge - If your lethargic cat is also experiencing an increase in eye discharge, this could be a sign of an eye problem, such as conjunctivitis or corneal ulcers. It could also be a sign of allergies.
- Fever - Cats with a fever will often also be lethargic due to their discomfort. A feline fever can have many causes, including viral infections that usually go away on their own. Something more serious, like pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas), could also be the culprit.
However, it's a good idea to closely monitor your cat and look out for other unusual side effects.
- Heavy breathing - Heavy breathing is another clear sign of pain in cats. If your cat's breathing seems abnormal, it could be related to trauma, anemia, or neurological disorders. Cats don't pant the way dogs do, so it should be taken seriously if they do it frequently.
One exception is if your cat has been playing hard recently, but a cat that pants with little or no exercise is a major cause for concern.
- Vomiting - Vomiting is one of the most common symptoms of any disease. In some cases, cats vomit because they ate something they weren't supposed to. If your cat only vomits once, there's no need to worry. But if they vomit several times within 24 hours, you might want to have a vet take a look at them.
When to go to the vet
Lethargy in cats doesn't always require a vet visit, but it can't hurt. If your cat has been lethargic for more than 24 hours, it's a good idea to book an appointment to rule out any severe conditions. Additionally, if your cat has experienced other symptoms in those 24 hours, be sure to notify your vet about those as well.
Treatment and diagnosis will vary depending on what your cat has. The sooner you consult your vet, the safer your cat will likely be. Many cats also become sluggish as they age, which isn't as critical.
How to help a lethargic cat naturally
If your cat is getting older and acting lethargic, there are some natural remedies that may be able to keep their energy up.
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Exercising your cat more and serving them a healthier diet are also natural ways to keep them happy and healthy. Of course, if something more serious seems wrong with your cat, you might want to visit the vet. After all, it's always better to be safe than sorry with your feline's health.
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