Let’s be real — some cats are just a little lazy, and like to lay around and do very little. Most cats sleep the majority of the day. But these cats still have a prey drive and find time to play and eat. If your cat is lethargic, they will generally not react to external stimuli, get playful, or even look for food. In some cases, it will seem impossible to wake them. That’s when lethargy becomes a problem in cats.
If you’ve noticed your cat looks particularly sleepy one day but is otherwise eating and behaving normally, give it a couple days to see if they get better. Lethargy doesn’t necessarily mean something is wrong unless it persists and presents with other symptoms. It could be something simple, like a fever, or something as complicated as cancer. If, after two or three days, your cat still isn’t doing very much at all, make an appointment with the vet.
Lethargy is relatively non-specific and can be a symptom for nearly every illness or trauma your cat encounters, ranging from something as small as tooth pain to something as serious as feline leukemia. If it presents with other symptoms, like fever or vomiting, you should see the vet.
Lethargy is basically the same regardless of why your cat has it, but it can range a bit in severity. Lethargy in cats means that they’ve got exceptionally low energy and aren’t interested in playing, eating, or really doing anything. They may stay in one spot or hide somewhere out of the way. On the milder end, they won’t move much but will still have a small amount of energy. In more severe lethargy cases, your cat might not move at all and could be very difficult to wake up.
Lethargy on its own is not typically something that spurs tests. When it presents with other symptoms, such as some of those noted in the next section, that’s when your vet will begin testing. You can generally expect physical examinations, blood work, ultrasounds, and X-rays.If you're concerned about your cat's lethargy but aren't sure it's severe enough to be be a problem, getting the all-clear after a physical exam and basic wellness blood profile can give you the confidence you need to stop worrying about it.
Lethargy most commonly presents with other symptoms that are related to the underlying cause, which could include things like tooth pain or tumors. These symptoms can include:
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