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HomeDear VetBabbleWhy Is My Cat Lethargic, Not Eating, Drinking & Experiencing Labored Breathing?

Why Is My Cat Lethargic, Not Eating, Drinking & Experiencing Labored Breathing?


Dear VetBabble: Why is My Cat Lethargic, Not Eating or Drinking, and Having Labored Breathing?

As a caring pet owner, it’s natural to worry when your cat exhibits concerning behaviors such as lethargy, refusing to eat or drink, constant sleepiness, and labored breathing. You might even wonder if your cat has been poisoned. While it’s difficult to pinpoint the exact issue without a proper examination, it’s crucial to address these symptoms promptly and seek emergency veterinary care for a thorough assessment and appropriate treatment. In this article, we’ll explore some possible reasons behind these symptoms in cats and guide you on what to do.

Potential Causes of Lethargy, Appetite Loss, and Labored Breathing in Cats

Various factors could lead to the alarming symptoms you’re observing in your cat. Here are a few possible causes:

Kidney Disease

Kidney Disease in Cats is a relatively common, yet serious affliction that may cause lethargy, loss of appetite, and increased thirst. As the cat’s kidneys fail to function efficiently, toxins build up in the bloodstream, leading to dehydration, weight loss, and general weakness. If you suspect kidney disease may be ailing your feline friend, it’s essential to consult a veterinarian for accurate diagnosis and treatment.


Cats occasionally vomit for various reasons such as hairballs, upset stomach, or even food allergies. However, if your cat experiences frequent vomiting and exhibits additional symptoms like lethargy and appetite loss, it could indicate a more serious underlying issue. Check out our article on Why is My Cat Vomiting? to learn more about potential causes and when to worry.


If your cat is dehydrated, it might lose interest in drinking water. Cats are notorious for not drinking enough water, which can lead to dehydration and lethargy. We discuss reasons your cat may not be drinking water and how to encourage them to drink more, thus preventing further health issues.


Older cats may suffer from Arthritis in Cats, which causes joint pain, stiffness, and decreased mobility. This could explain your cat’s constant sleepiness and unwillingness to move around. Consult with your veterinarian to determine the best course of action for addressing arthritis in your cat and alleviate their discomfort.

Seeking Immediate Veterinary Care

Regardless of the underlying issue, the labored breathing you’ve noticed is a significant cause for concern. Breathing difficulties could signify severe problems such as heart or lung disease, anemia, or even a blocked airway. It’s crucial not to delay seeking medical attention for your cat when they’re displaying such life-threatening symptoms.

Once you’ve contacted your veterinarian or an emergency clinic, they’ll likely perform a thorough examination and may recommend diagnostics such as blood tests, urinalysis, or imaging to determine the cause of your cat’s distress. Early intervention is the key to successful treatment and a better prognosis.

As a responsible pet owner, your vigilance in monitoring your cat’s health is vital to ensuring their overall well-being. Familiarize yourself with common ailments and their symptoms to protect your feline friend and provide them with a healthy, happy, and comfortable life.

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