August 2019

Audience: Executive Leadership, Foster Caregivers, Public, Shelter/Rescue Staff & Volunteers, Veterinary Team

Lethargy is a common term for weakness and lack of energy. This is a vague description of a symptom, but it occurs often with many illnesses in cats. Lethargy can range from slight (e.g., not as playful as usual), to moderate (e.g., not interested in play, sleeping more than usual), to extreme (e.g., barely moving, difficulty holding head up).

Signs that Your Cat Needs to See a Veterinarian

  • Lethargy persists for more than a day or two
  • Your cat becomes more lethargic
  • Lethargy is accompanied by other signs of illness (e.g., fever, sneezing/nasal discharge, difficulty breathing, decreased appetite, vomiting, diarrhea)
  • Your cat is hiding and/or avoiding contact with people and/or other pets in the household

What You Can Do

  • Observe your cat closely for other signs of illness.
  • Allow your cat to rest quietly without being disturbed by people or other pets.
  • Offer your cat some extra tasty or strong smelling canned foods (e.g., tuna or salmon), to entice him/her to eat more.

Causes of Lethargy

  • Lethargy is a very nonspecific symptom and is associated with a wide variety of possible illnesses.

Treatment of Lethargy

  • Treatment of lethargy will vary greatly based on the cause, so it is essential to consult a veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and subsequent treatment plan.
  • Your cat will likely need supportive care, such as fluids given under the skin and nutritional supplementation.

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