Most Common Causes of Lethargy in Cats

Has your cat been lethargic lately? What could be causing them to lose their energy? Is something wrong with them, and should you be worried about them? By knowing the common causes of lethargy in cats, you’ll be able to identify when your cat needs veterinary care.

cat lethargy

Lethargy is a symptom of many potential problems for cats. Some of these problems are severe, but others are not too serious. It’s important to pay attention to your cat’s other symptoms to determine when they may need to see a veterinarian.

6 Causes of Lethargy in Cats

In the article below, we’ll help you better understand some of the most common causes of lethargy in cats. With the help of this information, you can work toward determining what’s going on with your own feline friend.

As always, you should go the vet if you have concerns about your pet’s health, even if it turns out to be something mild. By playing on the safe side with your pet’s health, you’ll help ensure that they’ll always get the care they need, when they need it.

6 of the most common causes of lethargy in cats are:

1. Depression and Boredom

Depression and boredom are two things that can lead to lethargy in cats. Many cats aren’t getting enough stimulation in their lives, especially if they are house cats. Although it is always safer to keep your cat indoors than to let them roam, it’s also important to make sure they’re getting the stimulation they need both mentally and physically.

Give your cat plenty of different types of toys to play with throughout the day, and be sure to spend time playing interactively with them, too. Consider giving them some food or treats in a puzzle ball that requires them to think about how to solve the puzzle to receive the treat.

2. Intestinal Parasites

Intestinal parasites, commonly referred to as “worms” by most cat owners, may cause lethargy in your cat. If they are affected by any type of parasite, they may show a loss of energy and interest in their normal activities. Even mild intestinal parasites may cause this symptom in some cats.

The good news is that most intestinal parasites are very easy to treat in cats. Simply take your cat to the vet and follow the vet’s directions for treating your cat’s worms. Your cat will be given a dewormer and will likely need to be given medication for a couple of weeks to remove the worms from their body.

3. Obesity

If you overfeed your cat, they may become obese and may lose interest in playing or being very active as a result. Obesity can lead to lethargy in cats, and unfortunately, the lethargy typically increases the cat’s weight as part of a cycle.

Obesity is very dangerous for cats. Just like humans, cats who are obese for a long time are at a greater risk of developing diabetes. If your cat is diagnosed with diabetes, they will likely need insulin injections and frequent blood tests for the rest of their life to stay on top of this condition.

4. Arthritis

Cats who are older and are losing some of their mobility may become lethargic because of their arthritis. If your cat is in their senior years and you’ve noticed them slowing down a bit more lately, this may not be simply because of their old age. They may have arthritis that is causing their joints to be painful and inflamed.

Although there is no cure for arthritis in cats, there are several options to help manage your cat’s pain. You and your vet can work together to find the right solution for your cat to help reduce their lethargy during their twilight years.

5. Bacterial or Viral Infection

If your cat becomes sick with a bacterial infection or a virus, they may become lethargic as a result. Just like you want to rest when you’re sick, your cat does, too. There are many potential types of infections that can affect cats, and some are more serious than others.

Regardless of the type of infection your cat is experiencing, you should take them to the vet if you suspect they are sick with an illness like this. If you think they are running a fever, get them to the vet as soon as possible. Fevers can quickly cause dehydration in cats.

6. Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia is unfortunately another potential cause of lethargy in cats. This condition is common in cats who have not been vaccinated against it, and especially in cats who came from animal shelters or who have been allowed to roam freely.

There is no cure for feline leukemia, and it is a terminal illness. However, you can work with your vet to determine the right course of action for your cat. Some cats can live several years while managing the symptoms of feline leukemia.

Book an Appointment with Heart + Paw for Lethargy in Cats

Although lethargy can sometimes resolve itself if your cat’s underlying health problem is a mild one, you should usually take your pet to the vet if you notice they have become lethargic. If the lethargy lasts more than a day or two at most, it’s time to see a vet to determine the cause of this symptom.

By catching potential health problems quickly enough, you can help your cat recover from many of the common causes of lethargy. Your vet can give you more information about your pet’s treatment and management options moving forward.

Heart + Paw has multiple locations, all staffed with experienced veterinary professionals who are dedicated to keeping your pet as healthy and happy as possible. We understand how serious lethargy in cats can be, which is why our team works to find the underlying cause of the condition so your pet can get properly treated. Book an appointment at any of our locations so your pet can get the care they need.

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Heart + Paw was founded in 2018 by Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. George Melillo, who currently serves the Mid-Atlantic area. Heart + Paw offers a combination of veterinary care, pet grooming, and dog daycare to help be a resource in your pet parenthood journey.

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