Signs of a Healthy Cat

Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
By Dr. Jason Gagné, DVM, DACVIM
Updated: 5/16/20242-4 minutes
A gray cat

Most pet owners sense when their cat feels well. If they’re maintaining normal habits like playing, perching and eating nutritious cat food, then they may be in good health.  

It’s important to remember, though, that felines are good at hiding their pain. So knowing the specific signs of a healthy cat can help you catch any symptoms of illness or discomfort.  

Your veterinarian can give you a wellness profile tailored to your individual pet, but if you’re wondering how to tell if your cat is healthy, here are some common signs to watch for.  

How to Know if Your Cat is Healthy

If you’re looking for signs of a healthy cat, focus on these general areas.  

Digestive Health

Keep an eye on your cat’s litter box; stools should be small and firm. That’s a sign your cat is retaining nutrition from their food.  

The color of a healthy bowel movement may vary but typically ranges from tan to dark brown (occasionally you might see green or orange as well).  

The consistency should be solid enough to be picked up, whereas loose or runny stools indicate digestive upset. Pooping one to three times daily is a common cadence.  

If your cat stops using the litter box, take note.  

Depending on your pet’s particular situation, this could be a sign of constipation, or bladder stones. It could also be a more benign issue like cleanliness, but it’s best to contact your veterinarian to rule out a medical condition.  

If you want to try to improve your feline’s digestive health, talk to your veterinarian about probiotics for cats.  

Weight

Your feline companion should maintain a healthy body weight based on their breed and biological sex. Your veterinarian can advise you, but generally you should be able to feel their ribs and identify the waistline.  

If your pet is carrying more pounds than they should, you can help your cat lose weight through increased exercise as well as cat food for weight management.  

Eyes

 Healthy eyes in cats will appear bright and clear. Discharge around their eyes or cloudy pupils could be a symptom of any number of larger issues, so don’t hesitate to ask your veterinarian about it. 

Ears

If you’re wondering how to know if your cat is healthy, don’t forget to check their ears as part of an overall assessment.  

Ears should be light pink and free of excess dirt and debris. A little ear wax is normal; a lot could indicate a medical issue.  

Skin & Coat

Your cat’s skin and coat are vitally important to their overall health. Dry skin on cats can represent an environmental or medical problem.  

A healthy feline coat is rich in color and free of flakes and mats. It should be clean and pliable without dirt, debris or excessive oil.  

One way to promote a healthy coat is to brush your cat regularly. 

Healthy Energy

Is your cat playful? Do they spend a lot of time being active? If your cat has healthy energy, that’s a great indicator of good overall health. Several short play sessions per day are common for many cats.  

If your pet isn’t particularly active but otherwise seems fine, you might try introducing some new toys or playing games.  

Clean Teeth

Healthy cat teeth are white and free of chipping, plaque and tartar. Gums should be pink and without swelling or lesions. Discoloration, tooth loss and bad breath are signs they need medical attention.  

You can provide cat dental care at home by brushing your pet’s teeth, but make sure to also have your veterinarian perform oral examinations and cleanings at least once a year.   

Signs of a Healthy Kitten

Many signs of a healthy kitten will resemble those of an adult cat. One important thing to check, though, is your young cat’s body condition.  

Your kitten’s ribs should be felt but not seen. Their waistline should be identifiable with a recognizable tummy tuck. Note any sudden weight loss or gain. 

Also, kittens often have a lot of energy but watch for any signs of aggression.   

Cat Wellness

Practicing cat wellness can help improve your feline companion’s mental and physical health, while strengthening your bond.  

A wellness routine may include some of the following: 

  • Gently massage your cat
  • Keep up with regular grooming
  • Feed nutritional food and treats
  • Introduce new toys or games for physical and mental stimulation
  • Consider a feeding toy
  • Protect your pet by picking up chokeable items like paper clips or hair ties which can cause a gastrointestinal obstruction        

Remember, your veterinarian is a great resource for signs of a healthy cat. You can also play an important role in their health, however, by ensuring they meet guidelines of physical and mental wellness.   

For more cat health tips, visit our Pet Expertise page and get insight from our experts.  

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