Symptoms of Swollen Lymph Nodes in Cats

Lymphadenopathy, or swollen lymph nodes, is a condition which might arise for any number of different reasons. It can be difficult to tell whether your cat has swollen lymph nodes by appearance, so you may need to watch out for certain secondary symptoms and behavioral changes that can help to indicate that he's suffering from this problem. Because swollen lymph nodes don't typically arise without prior cause, you may need to also watch out for signs of another underlying condition that has led your pet's lymph nodes to be swollen in the first place. Because the lymph nodes are tied closely to the immune system, their swelling is oftentimes a very good indicator of some other type of disease or condition.

Swollen to the Touch

One of the best ways to determine if your pet has swollen lymph nodes is by gently touching them. The lymph nodes are located just below the jaw. In a normal and healthy cat, you'll likely not be able to feel any bump or node. However, when the lymph nodes are swollen, it's possible that you can feel them protruding from the skin below the jaw just slightly. When you go to feel your pet's jaw, be sure to take care to be as gentle as possible. If his lymph nodes are swollen, they may be very sensitive to the touch. This can cause your pet pain and discomfort. Gently feel them and be sure to give your pet plenty of encouraging words and praise.

Swollen Legs

Because the lymph nodes are spread throughout the body and have effects on different bodily systems, it's possible to see swelling in other parts of the body too. It's not uncommon for a cat's legs to become swollen as a result of his lymph nodes being swollen too. It's more likely that you'll notice one or the other of his hind legs being slightly swollen. This may lead him to have an unusual gait or way of sitting or standing.

Difficulty Eating

Swollen lymph nodes can make the process of chewing and eating difficult for your cat. Know how your cat typically eats so that you can tell when he's taking longer than normal. Watch for signs that he may be experiencing discomfort or pain.


Swollen lymph nodes do not necessarily directly relate to lethargy or malaise in a cat, but they are oftentimes the sign of another sickness or condition which might contribute in this way. Therefore, be sure that you're aware if your cat seems to be lacking in energy or to be generally exhibiting unusually depressed behavior.

If you notice these or any other symptoms which you think may suggest that your pet has swollen lymph nodes, take him in to the vet. Treating lymph node swelling is dependent upon the condition which prompted the swelling in the first place. Your vet can help to make the proper diagnosis of this cause.