Lethargy in Cats: Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment


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Lethargy in Cats

Is your cat sleeping a lot all day? Although sleeping a lot is quite common in cats, it could be sometimes a sign of lethargy in your cat. The pet parent may mistake lethargy for a tired cat. However, tired cats can get relief after getting enough sleep while lethargy in cats don’t feel relief even after sleeping a lot.

The most important thing is that you must be able to recognize the warning signs of your cat feeling lethargic. You need to understand that there is something wrong with your cat’s health. Most cats are talented in concealing the symptoms of their health conditions until they reach the worst stage.

Lethargic Cat may spend all day dozing and seem uninterested in their daily activities. Lethargy isn’t a disease but a sign of some disease that your cat may be suffering for some time. To figure out why is my cat lethargic, you need to learn about the symptoms, reasons, diagnosis, treatment, and recovery of your cat from lethargy. Have a glance!

What Is Lethargy In Cats?

Cats are very well-known for their playful behavior and energetic nature. Occasionally, felines exhibit a plain behavior like being lethargic. Is your cat acting lethargic? Well, lethargy in cats is the most concerning situation. 

Lethargy is a common sign of a disease that reduces the cat’s activity level and causes a lack of energy. Lethargy diminishes the alertness in cats. In simple words, lethargy is a symptom that slows down the cat’s activeness as they feel a lack of energy. 

Lethargy in Cats
Lethargy in Cats, Source: Bigstockphoto.com

In most situations, lethargy is considered a way of preserving energy to fight back serious illness or heal from an injury. Due to the lethargic state in your cat, it experiences loss of weight, unusual decrease in appetite, vomiting, etc. When a Lethargic Cat is Not Eating, it could be an indication of a serious health condition.

As the cat remains inactive due to the lethargy, the cat experiences the aforementioned symptoms. As Lethargy itself is a symptom of an underlying health condition, it’s important to contact the vet to treat this problem.

Difference Between Lethargy And Tired Cat

Lethargic Cat and a Tired Cat are different. Though both look almost similar, there is an important difference between a lethargic cat and a tired cat. To find out the difference between lethargy and tiredness in a cat, just go through this in-depth article.

Lethargy in Cats

Lethargic cats sleep more than usual but don’t get back to their normal state even after getting enough sleep. Lethargy in cats indicates that there is some underlying health condition in the cat. Lethargy may not have a standard cause. Sometimes, the loss of mind presence in certain things could be a cause of lethargy.

  • Some of the symptoms you may notice when your cat acts lethargic include:
  • Your feline companion doesn’t greet you when you reach home after a hectic working day.
  • Cats will stop showing interest in their beloved pet toys and playtime.
  • Cats don’t show interest in their favorite food item or special treats.
  • When the cat hears certain sounds that they dislike, they usually try to hide themselves. If the cat is lethargic, it stops concealing itself even after hearing some sounds like a vacuum cleaner, doorbell, etc.

Lethargy doesn’t resolve on its own without giving necessary treatment to the underlying health condition in cats.

Tiredness in Cats

Tiredness in cats is a temporary state that resolves with adequate sleep or rest. For instance, tired humans will sleep all day and wake up the next day with double energy. Tiredness in cats is a transient state that lasts only for a short time. By taking enough rest, tiredness in cats will go away. Some of the major causes of tiredness in cats include:

  • Stress
  • Medications that have side effects
  • Exercising more than normal
  • Illness
  • Recovery from a recent surgery
  • Hospitalization

Reasons For Lethargy In Cats

Cats are extremely intelligent at hiding their illnesses. But, when it comes to lethargy, it can be visible easily to the pet parents. Wondering Why Is My Cat Lethargic? If your feline friend appears to have low energy and is not interested in various playful activities then, your cat may be lethargic. 

Speaking about the reasons behind the cause of lethargy in cats, any health condition in cats could lead to lethargy in felines. To understand the appropriate course of action and required care for your cat, it is highly essential to identify the underlying cause of lethargy in the cat.

In this article, we have furnished the list of major reasons behind the occurrence of lethargy in cats. Check it out!

Pain: If your cat is suffering from pain due to an injury, chronic condition, or dental illness, it may be lethargic. Due to severe pain, the cat may not be interested in anything. As a result, it would be extremely difficult for the cat to move around like before.

Anemia: Anemia is caused in a cat when it doesn’t have adequate red blood cells in the body. In general, red blood cells carry oxygen to other organs of the body when required. Anemia is a serious health condition if not treated at the right time. As there is an inadequate supply of oxygen to the body, the cat’s muscles get tired easily and it feels a lack of energy. This in turn makes the cat lethargic. Other indications of anemia include pale pink tongue or white gums.

Infections: If the cat is suffering from an infection then, the body takes a lot of energy to fight off the bacteria or other pathogens. Some of the infections that may attack cats include viral infections, bacterial infections, feline leukemia virus, etc. To identify that your cat is having any bacterial infection, you can witness consistent sneezing, coughing, and nasal or eye discharge in your cat. In the process of fighting back these infections, your cat uses a lot more energy than usual resulting in lethargy.

Respiratory Issues: The most common respiratory infection in cats is the feline upper respiratory infection. Respiratory infection is caused when something blocks the lungs’ ability to pump oxygen into the blood. This may result in lethargy in cats.

Vaccinated Recently: When your cat is vaccinated recently, your cat will remain lethargic for a day or two. The reason is that the cat’s immune system tries to respond to the vaccination. The immune system of the cat starts producing protective antibodies in the body that in turn results in tiredness and low energy levels in the cat.  However, lethargy in cats due to vaccination will be temporary and your cat will get back into the normal routine once the immune system works like before. If in case, lethargy in cats persists then, you must contact the vet immediately.

Trauma: When your cat is injured, it causes pain. If that leads to trauma, it requires additional energy to heal the injury. In this process, the cat becomes lethargic.

Heart Disease: In the initial stages, it is difficult to detect heart disease in cats. When the condition of the cat worsens, the feline becomes lethargic. The reason is that the heart works even harder to pump blood for the whole body. Mostly, heart diseases in cats occur due to genetic disorders, old age, and other ailments in the body. Lethargy in cats due to heart disease is a rare condition. 

Low Blood Sugar: Low Blood Sugar is also referred to as Hypoglycemia. Glucose is a type of sugar that is required to stimulate the cells in the body of the cat. Majorly, glucose is required to fuel the cells in the brain of the cat.

Cancer: Cancer is another reason behind your cat being lethargic. Different types of cancers may affect felines in different ways. Whatever the type of cancer, lethargy in cats is a common clinical symptom.

Organ Dysfunction: The liver and kidney are the major organs of the body. When there is a failure in the liver and kidney of a cat, it leads to lethargy in felines. If waste material is piled up in these organs, it leads to failure. This will result in the disruption of common chemical processes in the body.

Dehydration & Abnormal Electrolyte Levels: When your cat’s body is dehydrated due to low water levels, it leads to lethargy in cats. If the feline’s body doesn’t have adequate electrolyte levels, your cat may feel fatigued. Hence, it is important to maintain enough water and electrolyte levels in the body. By maintaining these levels properly, it aids in the production of energy and as a result, the functioning of the body will be carried out in normal mode.

Parasites: Specific parasitic worms can cause lethargy in cats. These parasites can easily spread diseases among the cats and cause harm to the body. For instance, parasitic fleas may eliminate so much blood from the cat’s body making them anemic. As a result, the cats tend to become lethargic.

Hormonal Imbalances: If the hormones in the cat’s body become abnormal, it causes a change in the physiologic process all over the body. This results in the sickness of the cat making them lethargic.

Neurologic Disorders: When an injury or disease affects the neurologic system of the cat’s body, especially the brain, it can make your cat lethargic.

Lower Urinary Tract Issues: When your cat is suffering from lower urinary tract issues, it could lead to lethargy in the cat. If the cat is suffering from bladder problems, it causes an inability to urinate in the feline resulting in discomfort and lethargy.

Gastrointestinal Problems: If the cat has a poor digestive system, it fails to absorb adequate nutrients from the food it consumes. As a result, the cat may suffer from various gastrointestinal problems. Due to nutrient deficiency, the cat may experience low energy levels resulting in lethargy.

Inflammatory Diseases: If the immune system of the cat is weak and doesn’t respond well, it deteriorates the cat’s health. The inflammation in the cat’s body makes the cat feel sick leading to lethargy.

Nutritional Disorders: Due to nutritional disorders in the cat, they don’t get enough nutrition it requires daily. This makes your cat feel a lack of energy causing lethargy in them.

Depression: When cats experience depression, they may feel lethargic. Just like the way humans experience depression, cats also feel depressed sometimes. Due to depression, cats may experience a change in mood and behavior. Mostly, cats feel depressed due to various reasons such as a major change in their life, fatal health problems, the demise of their companion, and more.

Poisoning: When cats are exposed to toxins such as chemicals, poisonous plants, and poisonous insects, it can make your cat lethargic. If your cat is bitten by a venomous snake or other stings, it can lead to severe pain and damage to tissues in the cat’s body. In some cases, these bites can lead to the disruption of normal physiological functioning of the body. This can make your cat feel lethargic. 

Environmental Conditions: When there are changes in the environment wherein the cat lives, it can make your cat lethargic. An abrupt change in the living conditions of the cat leads to lethargy and fatigue in felines. Some of the environmental changes include shifting to a new house, a stranger’s entry into the home, the addition of a new family member to the home, or the entry of a pet into the house. Sometimes, a seasonal change can affect the cat’s health. Due to these changes, your cat may feel stressed and anxious which diminishes its energy levels. It shows no interest in playing and interacting with its pet parents. This results in lethargy of cats.

Specific Medications and Their Side Effects: When you give medication to treat a specific disease in your cat, the side effects of those medications can also cause lethargy in cats. Some of the medications such as opiates, antibiotics, tramadol, pain-relieving medications, anti-anxiety medications, etc., can cause lethargy in cats.

Age: The age of the cat also plays a major role in the occurrence of lethargy in cats. When the body of the feline deteriorates and suffers from a long-term disease like arthritis, it causes lethargy in cats.

Symptoms To Check For Lethargy In Cat

Exploring the Lethargic Cat Symptoms? If so, you’re in the right place. The pet parents may likely identify the symptoms of lethargy in cats when the cat is feeling sick. Some of the major symptoms of a lethargic cat include the following:

  • Sleeping more than normal
  • Lack of Energy
  • Vomiting
  • Drooling
  • Weight Loss
  • Low Appetite
  • Excessive Drooling
  • Frequent Inactiveness
  • Uninterested in daily activities like playing
  • Fever
  • Diarrhea
  • Peeing more than usual
  • Unresponsive to surroundings
  • Increased Urination
  • Dull Coat
  • Changes in behavior
  • Jaundice
  • Increased Vocalization
  • Excessive Grooming

What To Do If My Cat Is Lethargic?

If you are worried about your cat’s lethargy but don’t know what to do to reduce it then, this article is for you, pet lovers. If your cat is exhibiting low energy levels due to lethargy, make sure you treat it immediately without ignoring the condition. 

The reason is that lethargy indicates an underlying health condition in the cat. Hence, it needs proper attention from the pet parent. If the cat is lethargic for more than 2 days, you must consult a vet immediately. 

In case, your feline is lethargic in mild levels and not exhibiting any other symptoms of sickness then, you must watch the cat’s behavior and levels of energy in the next couple of days. If the condition is persistent then, you must contact your veterinarian.

If your cat is lethargic due to stress, anxiety, and other emotional conditions then, try to generate a stress-free environment for your cat. Make sure you set up comfortable bedding, nutrient-rich food, fresh water access, and litter tray availability for the cat. By doing so, if you witness a change in the cat’s behavior then, you don’t require vet consultation.

But, if you don’t find any sort of improvement within a day or two even after taking proper care then, it’s time to consult the vet. Apart from this, if you witness any other signs of illness like pain, diarrhea, low appetite, vomiting, etc., in your cat then, take the cat to the vet as soon as possible.

When To Call Vet?

Not always a lethargic cat needs vet attention. However, if your cat has been lethargic for more than 24 hours, it’s important to contact the vet. By consulting the veterinarian, you can rule out the complicated conditions in your cat.

If your feline friend has experienced additional symptoms associated with lethargy within and after 24 hours, you need to think about visiting veterinary care. When you witness some associated symptoms stating that your cat is a more critical condition then, you must immediately consult the veterinarian before the situation gets worse. 

Some of the serious symptoms your cat may experience accompanied by lethargy in the cat include severe vomiting, difficulty in breathing, diarrhea, etc. Even if you observe the cat for more than 24 hours but haven’t seen any sort of improvement in the feline’s condition, you must talk to the vet.

Visit the nearest veterinary emergency facility if you observe any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe Vomiting
  • Poor Appetite
  • Difficulty in breathing or fast breathing
  • Seizures
  • Loss of weight
  • Unable to urinate or produces little urine
  • Drooling
  • Diarrhea accompanied by blood
  • Behavioral changes in the cat
  • Jaundice

Diagnosis For Cats Lethargy

Once you take your cat to the veterinarian, he/she will diagnose the condition of the cat with lethargy. The procedure of diagnosing the underlying cause of lethargy in cats is quite a challenging thing. The reason is that there are copious potential conditions leading to this symptom. 

To diagnose the cat’s condition, the veterinarian will perform a thorough physical examination. The vet will ask the cat owner about the health history of the cat. After completing the cat’s physical examination, the vet will perform basic lab work that includes the following:

  • Bloodwork
  • Urinalysis
  • Fecal Examination to check for parasites
  • X-rays [Especially Chest X-rays to find the traces of tumors or fluid buildup]
  • Ultrasound Imaging
  • Complete Blood Cell Count
  • Diagnostic Tests to find Feline Leukemia Virus [FIV] and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus [FEIV] in cats
  • Thyroid Levels in Cat
  • Test to diagnose Heartworm

Treatment For Lethargic Cats

You might be wondering what kind of treatment can be given to a lethargic cat. Luckily, the great news is that there are several treatment options to handle lethargy in cats. By identifying the underlying health condition of the lethargic cat, the vet will be able to resolve the cause of lethargy in felines.

Once the vet finds out the reason behind the cause of lethargy, the vet will be able to elaborate a perfect treatment plan for this condition. Depending on the essential needs of the cat, the vet will prepare a treatment plan. It includes dietary changes in the cat, medications, managing pain in cats, and handling the underlying medical problems of the cat.

As part of the treatment, your feline requires necessary care that includes giving fluids under the skin, providing nutritional supplements, and more. Sometimes, the vet may prescribe painkillers to reduce the pain in cats if pain is the cause of lethargy.

Check out the general treatments that a vet will prescribe to treat a lethargic cat depending on the cause of lethargy.

  • To treat bacterial infections, antibiotics are required.
  • To treat viruses in cats, antiviral medication is prescribed.
  • For diabetic treatment in felines, necessary diet changes and insulin are given to the cat.
  • To reduce the condition of heartworm and parasites in the cat, dewormer is required.
  • In the case of tumor removal or to repair an injury in cats, surgery is required.
  • To relieve the cat from stress and depression, anti-depressants are prescribed to the cat. Certain environmental changes are made to treat lethargy in cats.
  • Other treatment options include dietary changes, pain management, fluid therapy, medications, and more.

Recovery From Lethargy

Even if you give the necessary medication as prescribed by the veterinarian, you need to follow certain Home Remedies For Lethargic Cat. Once the lethargic condition in your cat is treated, you need to give follow-up care for complete treatment of the cat. 

Making necessary changes to the dietary habits of the cat is also important for the quick recovery of lethargic cats. The pet parent must administer the necessary supplements as prescribed by the veterinarian. Continue this sort of care until your cat gets to normal condition.

If your cat has suffered lethargy due to stress and depression, you must make a change to the environment of the cat. Make sure you don’t give any sort of stress to your cat by keeping it in a comfortable environment and providing adequate rest.

How To Prevent Lethargy In Cats?

Treating lethargy in cats is quite expensive. Usually, the cost of treating lethargy in cats may range between $50 for medications and more than $1100 for performing surgery and consistent care. 

Hence, it is important to prevent lethargy in cats rather than treating them after hitting the feline. We have mentioned a plethora of preventive measures for lethargy in cats that can be taken by the pet owner.

  • Though you may not be able to prevent the occurrence of lethary in cats, you can still try to maintain the health and well-being of the cat. 
  • Make sure you make your cat exercise regularly to prevent lethargy in cats.
  • Provide a healthy, balanced, and nutritional diet to the cat.
  • Try to eradicate household toxins that could cause harm to the health of felines.
  • Add exercise timing and playtime activities to your feline’s routine. 
  • If you observe any sort of behavioral change in the cat, make sure you take your cat to the vet immediately without any delay.
  • Take your cat for regular vet check-ups.
  • Give necessary vaccinations and vet-suggested parasite prevention to your cat.


Here are some of the frequently asked questions related to a Cat Acting Lethargic and the Lethargic Cat Symptoms. Go through the FAQs and related answers furnished below.

  1. Do Allergies In Cat Cause Lethargy?

    Yes, allergies in a cat may cause lethargy. Immediate veterinary care is required to treat those allergies in the feline.

  2. Do Diet Changes Cause Lethargy In Cats?

    Yes, if there are any sort of changes in the diet habits of a cat, it can experience lethargy due to the deficiency of nutrition. When the essential nutritional requirements aren’t met with the cat’s diet, it causes various nutritional problems in the cat.

  3. Can Ear Infections Make Your Cat Lethargic?

    Yes, in some rare conditions, an ear infection in a cat may cause lethargy. Due to the pain in the ear, the cat may be lethargic. If this symptom is associated with other signs like low appetite, dehydration, etc., talk to the vet immediately. These signs are serious conditions that could cause liver and kidney diseases in the cat.


Well, this is all you need to know about a Lethargic Cat. It could be terrifying and worrisome in the pet parents when they notice their cat abruptly acting weak, and lethargic. It’s even more irritating when the owner couldn’t identify the problem behind this condition. 

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand the reasons behind ‘Why is my cat lethargic’. If you witness any sort of unusual behavior in your feline friend’s behavior, immediately consult your vet. 

If you have any queries about this article, drop them in the comments section. Visit our website TheCrazyCats.Net for more articles regarding health issues of cats, food habits, behavioral issues of cats, etc.

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