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By Nan Talleno

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – There are several ways to detect if your cat is ill, in pain or in poor health and in need of a trip to your vet’s office. The first rule of thumb is to notice any change in your cat’s behavior. Watch for changes in routine. Be aware of any changes in eating habits or if your cat refuses to eat at all. Take notice if your cat shakes his head frequently or exhibits any other strange postures, Look for other possible clues as well, such as your cat’s increased need for privacy, as he/she may be hiding for extremely long periods of time.

Other signals of illness or pain would be moaning or excessive crying, decreased interest in grooming, avoidance of the litter box, soiling in various locations outside of the litter box, erratic behavior, such as becoming unusually timid, nervous or fearful or even possibly aggressive without cause. Your cat may be exhibiting new behavioral changes such as avoidance of attention, tentativeness or even fear. Your cat may exhibit excitability or even quick levels of aggression with the other animals in the household.

Of course, watch for possible physical symptoms of illness such as vomiting, diarrhea, respiratory problems, difficulty eating or eliminating. These physical symptoms as well as behavioral changes are all indications that you need to call your vet as soon as possible.

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