Some cats can be pretty tricky about letting you know they aren’t feeling well. They also tend to be pretty resilient. How do you know when to go to the vet?
The first step is data collection. When did you first suspect there was a problem? How consistent is it? Has your pet been outside or in contact with other cats? How are their litter box habits? Are they eating or drinking differently? Are they hiding or acting painful? Have they had any major medical problems in the past? Are they getting thinner? Are their sleep habits changing? Have there been any noticeable changes in the household like visitors, travel, new pets or construction?
Thinking about these questions will help you to know when the right time is to seek medical attention. There are an exhaustive number of topics that fall into this category with cats because they are such unique critters.
The more dramatic the changes you are seeing, the more urgent the problem. If the problem has been going on more frequently or for a longer duration and is not resolving well on its own, then seeking out medical advice may shed some light on the changes you are seeing at home.
When you bring your cat to the vet it is extremely helpful if you can describe what about your cat seems to be off and why you brought them in. Most of the time the doctor can’t tell what is going on by just looking and any hints will help them to target their physical exam or other tests to get to the root of the problem most efficiently and economically.
Blood tests are frequently extremely helpful in ruling certain problems both in and out. I have not met one veterinarian that can sit down and have a logical discussion with a cat or dog about why they have been acting “off” so, for now, we have to use the basic tools of history, physical exam, bloodwork and x-rays to see if we can get to the root of the problem as quickly as possible.