Cats love a good hiding spot, but if you notice your kitty is spending more time under the bed or in hard-to-reach places, it could signal that something’s wrong. “Owners often tell me they notice when their cat is ill if they’re usually social but have been spending more time in new hiding spots, or that they stop coming out at feeding time,” says Jake Zaidel, DVM, founder of Malta Animal Hospital in upstate New York and a member of the American Veterinary Medical Association. While excessive hiding is a general sign that something is off with your cat—not necessarily cat cancer—it’s still a good idea to see a vet, he says. This is what your cat is secretly trying to tell you.
Weight loss is the number-one cat cancer symptom Dr. Zaidel says he sees. It’s often the sign of a gastrointestinal tumor. “When cats are usually food-motivated but start to turn up their nose and don’t want to eat, that’s very concerning,” he says. Cancer can also cause cats to lose weight while maintaining their regular appetite. If you notice your cat shedding pounds, either rapidly or slowly, make an appointment with your vet. This is why your cat loves your laptop so much.
Sores, lumps, a strange odor, bleeding, or a change in gum color can be a sign of oral cat cancer, particularly in older cats. This cancer sign in cats often goes unnoticed for too long. “We commonly find visible oral tumors because people don’t examine their pet’s mouth,” says Zaidel. “Many oral tumors can be really devastating because people don’t find them until it’s really advanced.” He also suggests brushing on a regular basis. It’s a good idea to watch when your pet yawns or eats, advises Timothy Rocha, DVM, an oncology specialist in New York City. See a vet if you notice something out of the ordinary. Find out the 50 secrets your pet is keeping from you.