Symptoms Wisconsin Pet Owners Need to Know > Lethargy – Cats

Lethargy – Cats

Symptoms Care

Lethargy – Cats


When Are Cat Naps Not Normal?

Cat Lethargic Not EatingCats often sleep for hours upon hours a day. As a symptom, lethargy in cats is hard to diagnose. They may just be tired from playing all day or act lazy for no particular reason at all. But if your kitty is unusually drowsy or inactive even after napping, there may be an underlying medical issue. As a rule of thumb, you should make a veterinary appointment if uncharacteristic lethargy lasts for more than 24 hours.

Lethargy is often accompanied by other symptoms if there is an underlying sickness. Some signs to look out for include:


Cats can be allergic to many things from pollen and mold to the type of litter you’re using. In addition to lethargy, allergies are often exhibited by sneezing, watery eyes, ear infections, vomiting and diarrhea, snoring, and increased scratching. If your cat has asthma, they will also cough when having an allergic reaction. We will help you determine what your cat is allergic to and prescribe treatments or solutions to get them feeling great.


Anemia is caused by decrease in red blood cells. This could be from a wound, an autoimmune disease or cancer, ingestion of toxic chemicals, or a parasitic infection. If there is not any sign of bleeding, check your cat’s gums for paleness. If your cat is lethargic, not eating well and has pale gums, we will perform a blood test to determine the cause. There could be a more serious problem like lead poisoning, feline leukemia virus, parasites like Hemobartonella, or cancer.


As a cat ages, they are more likely to develop arthritis. If your cat is suffering from arthritis, it will be painful for them to move around, making simple activities like getting in and out of the litter box, climbing stairs, or jumping on and off the couch very difficult. Animal Wellness Center will examine your cat to determine the source of your cat’s discomfort.


Cancer is much less common in cats than it is in dogs; however, if a cat has cancer it is more likely to be more aggressive. The most common types of cancers in cats include lymphoma associated with feline leukemia virus, oral squamous carcinoma, and injection site sarcoma associated with some vaccinations (this is extremely rare). Since cats hide their problems well, it is important to look out for lumps on or under the skin, diarrhea or vomiting, difficulty breathing, and not eating. If your cat has any of these symptoms, take them to your veterinarian for an exam, diagnosis, and treatment options.


Cats can suffer from depression much like humans can. The most important signs and symptoms to look out for are lethargy, loss of appetite, excessive grooming, irritability, excessive meowing, and spraying. Your cat could be depressed for a number of reasons like lack of attention, death of another pet or family member in the household, or an untreated medical issue. Animal Wellness Center will help you determine the problem and provide proper solutions to alleviate your cat’s depression. In extreme cases, some cats may need antidepressants.


It is normal for your cat to develop hairballs occasionally. As they groom themselves, hair can build up in their stomach and be expelled through vomit. However, if your cat is lethargic, retching or gagging without throwing up a hairball, not eating, and has constipation or diarrhea, you should bring your cat in for a vet appointment. These may be symptomatic of a blockage, which can be life-threatening if not dealt with by a professional.

Heatstroke and Dehydration

Heatstroke, also called hyperthermia, is a very serious condition when your cat’s body is overheating.  This is usually caused by prolonged exposure or high levels of activity in high temperatures. Cats who are very old or very young, sick, obese, or pregnant or who have a heart or breathing problem are at a greater risk. Some common symptoms of heat stroke include lethargy, drooling, panting, red tongue and gums, vomiting and diarrhea, bleeding from the nose, and muscle tremors. Heatstroke can also lead to organ failure if not treated as soon as possible.

Dehydration is caused by a severe lack of fluid intake. If your cat doesn’t have a fresh supply of water or isn’t drinking, especially after playing in hot weather, they are at risk of becoming dehydrated. Some symptoms of dehydration include lethargy, loss of appetite, dry mouth, panting, sunken eyes, and increased heart rate. Contact your veterinarian if you suspect your cat is dehydrated. Only a vet can determine the level of dehydration and can give an IV solution if needed.


Although heartworm is significantly more common in dogs, cats can still be affected, especially if they haven’t had preventative medication and live outdoors. The risk of indoor cats getting heartworm is extremely low. Symptoms of heartworm include lethargy, vomiting, labored breathing, and coughing. Your cat should be brought to the vet for an examination and proper treatment.

Heart Disease

Heart disease in cats is caused by cardiomyopathy, which is when their heart muscles become too thick and rigid to perform normally. Cardiomyopathy is usually found in adult cats and is usually passed down genetically. Lifestyle and overall health usually doesn’t affect whether or not your cat will develop it. The disease is progressive and doesn’t respond well to treatment, but there are things you can do to improve your cat’s quality of life—make sure your cat is comfortable and as stress-free as possible and give them medications recommended by our veterinarians.

Other symptoms of heart disease include loss of appetite, irregular heartbeat, rough breathing, bluish discoloration in the nailbeds and foot pads, and sudden heart failure. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action.

Infections and Parasites

Causes of Cat Lethargy WisconsinIf your cat is acting differently than usual, they might have a hidden infection. Depending on the type of infection, your cat could be sneezing, scratching, or vocalizing more than usual. They will also likely be lethargic and sleeping more if they are feeling sick.

Types of infections in cats include but are not limited to:

  • Parasitic – Ear Mites, Worms, and Fleas
  • Bacterial – Bordetella and Staphylococci
  • Fungal – Roundworm
  • Viral – Feline Leukemia, Calicivirus, and Feline Herpes
  • Protozoan – Toxoplasmosis and Giardia

If your cat has a fever, isn’t eating, has discharge from the eyes or nose, is vomiting, has diarrhea, or has skin sores, take them to the vet for diagnosis and treatment.

Ingesting Toxic Food or Foreign Objects

If your cat ate something it shouldn’t, you should take it to the vet right away. Whether your cat ingested something toxic or a foreign object, it is important to get treatment as quickly as possible to prevent serious illness or death. Some symptoms your cat ate something bad include lethargy, constipation or diarrhea, and hissing or biting when you touch their stomach.

Very important – If your cat is passing an item it ate, do not attempt to pull it out. While you may think you’re helping, this can do a lot more harm internally if the item becomes stuck. Your cat should go to the vet for an exam and surgery if needed.

Kidney Disease

Over 50% of cats over 15 years old are affected by kidney disease. The exact cause of chronic kidney disease in cats is unknown, but getting proper treatment is important for slowing the progression of the disease and preventing other serious health problems. Cats of any age can be affected by acute renal failure if they ingest harmful substances like certain plant species, pesticides, antifreeze, and some medications meant for humans.

Symptoms of kidney disease include lethargy, loss of appetite, vomiting, increased urination, and increased thirst.

Malnutrition, Obesity, and Diabetes

Cats are obligate carnivores, so they need a diet made of mostly meats. Their bodies are able to process protein from meats better than proteins from plants. As a result, cats should not be fed predominantly vegetarian or vegan diets since they will not receive enough potassium, zinc, and calcium. It’s also important to not feed your cat too much liver or fish, as liver and fish can lead to serious health problems if consumed too often. Consult with your vet if you think your cat isn’t receiving proper nutrients. We can help you setup a proper diet, so your cat can get the nourishment it needs.

Obesity in cats is becoming a serious problem. Along with constant access to food, cats prefer to spend their time lounging around your home rather than exercising through play. If your cat is extremely overweight, there is a greater risk of developing diabetes mellitus. Some symptoms of diabetes in cats include lethargy, dehydration, motor function problems, vomiting, and loss of appetite. If left untreated, your cat can go into a coma or die. Get in touch with your veterinarian to develop a treatment plan and improve your cat’s dietary health.

Recovery from Surgery and after Shots

A visit to the vet, especially if it involves undergoing surgery, can be stressful for any kitty. It is normal for your cat to be sleepy and lethargic after a surgery, especially when there are still painkillers in their system. Your cat should be back to normal within 24 hours.

Cats can also be lethargic after getting routine vaccinations. Your cat should be back to normal after approximately 24–36 hours. Serious reactions to vaccines are rare but can occur. Be on the lookout for things like excessive vomiting, swelling in the face, and difficulty breathing. Contact your vet right away if you notice any of these symptoms.

Visit Our Veterinarians and Schedule an Appointment

Visit Animal Wellness Center in Waukesha, Oak Creek, Burlington, or Fond du Lac if you have any concerns about your cat’s health or if you want to setup a routine examination. Our veterinarians will be happy to answer any questions you have and ensure your cat is healthy.

Contact Animal Wellness Center and schedule a veterinary appointment for your lethargic cat today.