Q: A week ago, my female cat stopped eating, started constantly cleaning herself below, began meowing whenever she was picked up and she now keeps away from everyone. She seems very alert, although I’m not sure if she still uses the litterbox. I am very worried about her.
A: I can’t tell, based on the limited information in your letter, what the problem might be. When you say “cleaning herself below,” I assume you mean that she’s licking her genital region excessively. This is sometimes a sign of a cat’s urinary tract discomfort, such as a bladder infection; inflammatory skin conditions can also cause persistent licking.
You mention that you don’t know if she’s using the litterbox. I’m going to assume that you mean that you’re not sure if you’re seeing evidence of urination in the box. This, too, is often seen in cats with urinary tract infection or inflammation. As soon as any urine accumulates in their bladder, they experience an urge to urinate, and may urinate only a drop or two, which can sometimes be undetectable in the litter. Or, affected cats will urinate in inappropriate places, foregoing their litterbox completely. Most cats with urinary tract issues will continue to eat, although some cats are uncomfortable and will stop eating.
You need to take your cat to the vet. If your vet thinks it’s a urinary issue, a urinalysis, urine culture and an X-ray should be performed to determine the specific issue that is affecting your cat.