Low Energy Cat: Causes and Solutions for Feline Lethargy 

Cats tend to be a mix of having increased energy as well as enjoying a good rest. After all, they are the inspiration for the phrase “cat nap”. However, when your cat seems unusually tired or struggling with energy, you may be wondering what is causing this sudden change in behavior. 

There are a variety of causes for feline lethargy that range from minor to serious. Being aware of the different causes can help you assess whether or not your cat needs medical attention and how you can help them recover. 

Signs of Feline Lethargy 

Describing a cat as lethargic instead of tired means something very different. A tired cat may just be fighting off a virus or simply showing signs of aging. However, a lethargic cat means that the animal is barely moving, not eating, and showing little to no energy. While there are different medical reasons that can cause a cat to have low energy, these causes below are some of the more common ailments that can cause your cat to be lethargic. 

Top 8 Causes of Feline Lethargy and Solutions to Help


#1: Viral or Bacterial Infections

When an animal’s body is working to fight off an infection or virus, their immune system is in overdrive. As a cat’s body is healing from infection, they will be much more fatigued and lethargic. Both viral and bacterial infections can be treated with different medications. Keep in mind that some of the medications may have side effects and your cat’s fatigue is likely to continue until they are well again. 

#2: Anemia

Just like humans struggle with anemia, cats do as well. Anemia is when a cat’s red blood cell count is lower than it should be which in turn causes a decrease in oxygen. This lack of oxygen can make a cat become lethargic and sick. Cats that are anemic Being aware of other signs of anemia can help you determine whether or not this is the cause of your cat’s fatigue. 

#3: Diabetes

Did you know male cats are more likely to develop diabetes than female cats? While diabetes in cats tends to be rare, there are certain risk factors that may make your cat more prone to a diagnosis. Obesity is a contributing factor to diabetes as well as old age. If your cat seems to be extremely thirsty and is showing other signs of diabetes such as frequent urinating and weight loss, it is time to be seen by a vet. 

The good news is that diabetes can be managed with insulin. It is important to make sure you follow all the directions for medication. Lethargy is a common sign that a cat’s blood sugar is too low if they are diabetic. 

#4: Cardiovascular Disease

Cardiovascular disease, or heart disease, is a common cause of feline lethargy. In older cats in particular, heart disease can cause lethargy and other symptoms. Cats can live for years with heart disease and can hide it well. One of the main ways vets are able to diagnose heart disease is during a routine physical exam when they listen to the heart during the cat’s annual check-up.

 If you notice your cat seems much more lethargic than usual, make an appointment with your vet so they can run different diagnostic tests. Heart disease can often be managed for some time with medication to make your cat more comfortable. 

cat lethargy in Shreveport, LA

#5: Urinary Tract Infection

When your cat is frequently visiting the litter box but it seems like nothing is happening, they may have a urinary tract infection. These infections are more common in male cats and can be extremely painful. As your cat is dealing with the infection they can become lethargic as well as meowing more frequently due to the pain. If you suspect a urinary tract infection, make sure to see a medical professional right away as complications can occur if it is not treated immediately. 

#6: Asthma

Any time an animal is having a harder time breathing, they are likely to become lethargic. Untreated asthma means your cat’s body is working in overdrive to try and get oxygen to the lungs. When the respiratory system is not functioning properly, it is hard for cats to have the energy to move. Asthma is a treatable condition. While cats don’t necessarily use inhalers the same way that humans do for asthma, they can take medications such as prednisone to help ease the condition and allow them to breathe easier. 

#7: Poisoning 

Due to cats’ curious nature, they sometimes get into things they shouldn’t. Unfortunately, there are likely numerous items around your house that can make your cat extremely sick. Things like certain human medications and even house plants can cause your cat to become sick quickly if they ingest these items. If your cat has lost their appetite and is suddenly lethargic have them seen by a vet right away to rule out any toxins in their body. 

#8: Hypothyroidism 

While hypothyroidism is never a fun diagnosis to receive for your cat, it is treatable. The two main symptoms of hypothyroidism in cats are rapid or excessive weight gain and lethargy. Since the thyroid helps regulate metabolism, once it stops working correctly the body has to work extra hard making fatigue one of the main symptoms. 

Once your cat is diagnosed with hypothyroid your vet will offer different treatment options depending on the severity of the case. Sometimes surgery is involved to remove part or all of the thyroid. A special diet may be needed to help manage symptoms and keep your cat as healthy as possible. 


With a variety of potential causes for your cat’s low energy, it can be tricky to determine what the cause is for your cat’s lethargy. Take note of other symptoms that have been occurring in addition to the lethargy to help give your vet a better understanding of the full picture of how your cat has been feeling. 

If your cat is diagnosed with a specific medical condition, make sure to follow all the directions for any medication that is given. Luckily many cats recover from their lethargy and can continue leading happy and healthy lives.

If you are dealing with a lethargic cat near Shreveport, LA, contact University Veterinary Hospital. Our expert vets can narrow down the root cause of your cat’s lethargy and help them start to feel better. Call us today at 318-797-5522 or request an appointment online.

Recent Posts

About University Veterinary Hospital

UVH has a phenomenal team of veterinarians and specialists available to meet all your pet’s needs. From the moment you walk through our doors, you will be met with friendly faces and warm greetings from our wonderful front desk team, and then ushered into an exam room to meet with your veterinarian. We are deeply invested in your pet’s longevity and happiness, and in your satisfaction.