Lethargy Average Cost

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Average Cost


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What is Lethargy?

Because cats naturally sleep a large percentage of their day, especially older cats, you may not be immediately aware of lethargy indicating that something may be medically wrong with your cat. Lethargy is an indication of your cat not feeling well and could relate to a relatively minor medical condition or could be a sign of a more serious illness. Careful investigation by your veterinarian will be required to narrow down the cause.

Symptoms of lethargy in cats are abnormal sleepiness, low energy, and lack of response to surroundings. Lethargy is not a condition or disease in itself, but can be a sign that something is wrong with your cat. 

Symptoms of Lethargy in Cats

Lethargy is a symptom in itself and is characterized primarily by the following:

  • General inactivity
  • Lack of interest or response to surroundings
  • Lack of energy
  • Sleepiness or drowsiness

Other symptoms that commonly coincide with and are associated with causes of lethargy are:

  • Weight gain
  • Weight loss
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Thirst/increase in urination
  • Jaundice
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Pain or discomfort
  • Dull hair coat/loss of hair
  • Behavioral changes, e.g. aggression

In addition, there may be specific symptoms present that are indicative of a specific medical disease or condition.

Causes of Lethargy in Cats

Cats sleep a lot by nature, however, excessive sleep or inactivity could be a sign of illness. Rest is your cat's natural response to not feeling well and could be a normal part of recovery from a minor condition or it could be an indicator of a more severe condition.

Common causes of lethargy:

  • Being overfed
  • Being under exercised
  • Parasitic infection
  • Stress
  • Depression/too little stimulation
  • Medication side effects
  • Arthritis in older cats
  • Hairballs (can become serious if causing blockage)
  • Obesity
  • Infection with a minor common virus such as cat flu

Other more serious conditions that are common in cats and cause lethargy are:

  • Diabetes
  • Viral infections such as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) or feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
  • Bacterial infection 
  • Abscesses from bites by other cats
  • Musculoskeletal injury
  • Heartworm
  • Anemia
  • Urinary tract infections

Less common but serious conditions that could cause lethargy in your cat are:

  • Protozoal infection
  • Cardiovascular disorder such as heart disease
  • Respiratory problems resulting in low oxygen levels such as asthma
  • Gastrointestinal disorders
  • Heatstroke
  • Cancer
  • Organ failure (kidney or liver disease)
  • Poisoning
  • Neurological Disorders

Diagnosis of Lethargy in Cats

Your veterinarian will perform a complete physical upon presentation of a lethargic cat. Diagnosis is complicated as there are many possible causes of lethargy in cats which range from mild to severe, as lethargy is a symptom of most illnesses and disorders. Your veterinarian will require a complete medical history of your cat including detailed description of symptoms in order to narrow down a possible cause. In addition, you should let your veterinarian know about any changes to your cat’s environment or exposures they may have had recently. Your vet will look for injuries and abscesses, skin problems, swelling, and signs of pain or discomfort during the physical exam that may help determine the cause of the lethargy.

The following tests are commonly ordered to narrow down the cause of lethargy:

  • Urinalysis and blood tests to check blood count and look for factors that would indicate illness, bacterial infections, and viral infections
  • Fecal sample to check for parasites
  • Ultrasound to reveal abnormalities in organs or tumors
  • Chest x-ray to reveal tumors or fluid buildup
  • Diabetes test
  • FIV and FELV tests
  • Heartworm tests

Treatment of Lethargy in Cats

Treatment of lethargy will depend on the identified cause. General treatment of the symptom lethargy often includes an improved diet and supplements, such as iron supplements for anemia. It may also include intravenous fluids or oxygen therapy if required. Rest is also prescribed for lethargic cats that require it. Painkillers may also be prescribed if pain is a factor in your pet’s condition.

Common treatments prescribed for cats with lethargy according to their respective causes are:

  • Antibiotics for bacterial infection
  • Dewormer for parasites or heartworm
  • Surgery for removal of tumors or to repair injury
  • Antiviral medication for viruses
  • Antidepressants for depression or stress
  • Diet and insulin for treatment of diabetes

Further treatment specific to the cat’s medical condition will be prescribed as appropriate.

Recovery of Lethargy in Cats

Your pet will require follow-up care specific to the medical condition that was the cause of the lethargy.

Administration of any special diet and supplements prescribed by your veterinarian should be continued. If depression or stress were factors, a change to your cat’s environment may be needed to address this. 

A lethargic cat may be in need of recuperation and should be given a low stress, comfortable environment and be allowed to rest.

Lethargy Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals

Dont know
2 Months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


I adopted a stray cat, aprox. 2 months old.
She is very energetic and plays a lot.
I go to work from 8 to 16 and in that time she is alone. She is with me for 2 weeks and all was great until today when I came home from work and saw that she is slow, passive, unamused, didnt react to toys or my voice.. litterally nothing!
She wanted to sleep, waved her tail unsatisfied, drank just a little water when I put her in front of her bowl, ate only treats, pooped when I lift her and put her in sand (poop looked normal to me).
Normally, as said, she is really playful, vocal, runs and jumps alot, plays with her toy balls, loves to be pet..
I am really scared and confused how this happened all of a sudden?

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1722 Recommendations
Misha could be just having an off day or there may be something happening with her which may include parasites, infections, foreign objects, poisoning among other causes; keep an eye on her for now, but if there is no improvement after a day or two I would recommend you have her checked over by your Veterinarian. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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4 Years
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms


My 4 year old cat, Hearts, has been sleeping and laying in bed basically for 48 hours. He does get up at some point in the night but I don't know if he's eating or drinking then. I try to stimulate him to get up and move and stand him and he just lays back down. The dogs get into bed with him and instead of him darting out of bed like usual he just lays there and meows. What could be going on for him to have a lack of response to his surroundings and lethargy like this? This has never happened before. He has been losing some hair but I put that Off as possible food allergies and changed foods. Thank you.

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1722 Recommendations
There are various different causes for lethargy to the level you’re describing which may be due to hormonal conditions, pain (hence meowing), intestinal obstructions, trauma, spinal disorders among many other possibly causes. Given the severity of the symptoms it would be advisable to visit your Veterinarian before the weekend for an examination to determine the underlying cause for this behaviour. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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less than 8 months
Moderate condition
0 found helpful
Moderate condition

Has Symptoms

Lethargy. grumpy

My cat is lethargic suddenly. And he seems defensive. How can I make him comfortable? He stopped being playful. He has been sleeping all day. Does not want to be touched. Whines when disturbed.

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1722 Recommendations
There are a few possible causes for why Santo has some behavioural changes which may include illness, pain, parasites, foreign objects, trauma (from a fall in the home) among many other issues. I would keep an eye on him for now and make sure that he is eating/drinking/defecating/urinating but if there is no improvement over the next few days you should visit your Veterinarian as his symptoms are quite vague. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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Long hair grey kitten
5 Months
Fair condition
0 found helpful
Fair condition

My kitten this morning was lethargic she just wanted to lay in her bed but moving around in bed she had a good stool no worms check to see if a tick and fleas none she past away tonight in her bed but puzzle what could happen?? Even drink some water

Health Expert
Dr. Callum Turner, DVM
1722 Recommendations
I am unable to think of a specific reason for the passing of Survire, the lethargy would have been indicative of something occurring but without performing a necropsy I couldn’t say what that cause was. Kittens may have congenital issues, infections, liver problems, worms and other conditions which are hidden and may cause sudden death; if you are looking for concrete answers I would suggest having a necropsy done. Regards Dr Callum Turner DVM

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