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Cat Lethargy

Veterinarian Reviewed on June 22, 2012 by Dr. Janice Huntingford

Cat Lethargy (Lethargy in Cats

There are many reasons why a cat could be lethargic.

Lethargy in cats can be caused by many different illnesses. Firstly, lethargy is a symptom, not a disease; in other words, an illness is causing the lethargy. Understanding the signs of lethargy itself can help cat owners understand when treatment is needed.

Signs of Lethargy in Cats

Cat Loss of Appetite, Cat Fever, increased thirst, increased urination, Cat Vomiting, Cat Diarrhea, and Cat Loss of Weight or weight gain are all symptoms of lethargy. Behavior changes include loss of interest in daily activities, increased sleep and excessive drowsiness.

These are all symptoms a cat owner should be aware of and report any of these to the cat’s regular veterinarian.

Causes for Lethargy in Cats

The causes for lethargy in cats are extensive, which is why it is even more critical that cat owner’s watch their cat’s behaviors. Common causes of lethargy include pregnancy, Cat Anemia, Cat Constipation, Cat Depression, medications, heat stroke, and high blood pressure.

Pregnancy in Cats

Obviously, if a female cat is pregnant, this can certainly cause some lethargy, though she needs to be on a regular schedule with the veterinarian to ensure she remains healthy during the pregnancy.

Anemia in Cats

Anemia in cats is particularly common, and it is much like anemia suffered in humans, but the treatment is much different. Cats develop anemia for a number of reasons, but the most common being parasites such as Cat Fleas and Cat Worms.

Constipation in Cats

Constipation can cause lethargy in cats and is normally the result of medication the animal is on for an unrelated condition. Increasing the cat’s fiber intake normally helps relieve the constipation. Some diets sold on the market are unusually low in fiber, and as a cat ages, they need additional fiber.

Cats with Depression

Depression and lethargy go hand-in-hand with Cat Stress And Anxiety. Many owners do not realize their feline friend can become depressed. The cause for depression is normally a change in their routine, such as moving house. Allowing the cat to explore his or her new surroundings will help. Cats are creatures of habit and do not like it when their surroundings are abruptly changed.

Medications that Cause Depression

Certain medication to treat another illness in a cat can cause lethargy and excessive sleepiness. If the treatment is short-term, then the lethargy will subside once the medication is stopped.

Heat Stroke in Cats

Heat stroke is a danger for cats that live in areas where the summers are extremely hot. Cats that roam outside often sleep in the hot sun and do not realize when their body temperature is too high. Lethargy, incoherent, and frothing at the mouth are signs of heat stroke. Immediately get the cat inside where it is cool and use a sponge with cool water on its ears, feet, and neck to get the body temperature down. Heat stroke is an emergency, and while the owner is attempting to reduce the body temperature down, they need to rush the cat to the veterinarian.

High Blood Pressure

Cats with high blood pressure can also display signs of lethargy, though this requires a trip to the veterinarian’s office so that the cat’s blood pressure can be examined.


Any signs of lethargy in cats should never be ignored because some of the reasons for the lethargic behavior can be quite serious, and need immediate treatment.

Read also: Cat Hepatobiliary Tumors
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Our Expert

Dr. Janice Huntingford
Janice Huntingford, DVM, has been in veterinary practice for over 30 years and has founded two veterinary clinics since receiving her Doctor of Veterinary Medicine at the Ontario Veterinary College, University of Guelph. She has studied extensively in both conventional and holistic modalities. Ask Dr. Jan

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