Anyone with pets knows that they are part of the family and that they should be taken care of just as well. Like people, they each have their own personalities and quirks. But, also like people, they may present with a variety of health issues. While some are more serious than others, they should be taken to the vet to get regular check-ups. Cat health is imperative to them living their best, most healthy life with you, so here are some tips to help your cat live that life.
Sometimes a change in behavior or an odd symptom can be a red flag for a potentially major issue. Like most health problems, when caught early they are treatable and less of a life-threatening concern than if you wait till an emergency to surface. While most of Cat health problems aren’t entirely cat-specific medical issues, here are the top nine cat health concerns and what can be done to prevent and treat them.
One of the more common concerns among cat health still has the potential to become life-threatening. Thankfully, this is something that can be cured at home and with little effort. An excellent way to check to see if your feline companion is dehydrated is to pinch their skin between your fingers. (Good luck on getting them to cooperate; that’s a whole other endeavor.) Release your fingers. If the skin pulls back to normal instantly, they’re getting enough water. If not, there’s a pretty good chance they’re at least slightly dehydrated.
A fun way to get them to drink more water is to get a cat fountain. Most cats love to play in the water, so a constant stream of water should entice them to get more liquid in their diets.
Runny poo can be a cause for alarm, but it usually isn’t. Something as simple as changing their food to a new one can have some unpleasant effects. In the case of different food, you can just wait it out, and their tummies will adjust in time. If you’re concerned, just give your vet a ring.
Other, more severe causes of diarrhea in cats are inflammatory bowel disease, colitis, parasites, and cancer. Thankfully these are rarer. When it comes to less serious diarrhea, withholding food for a day will not hurt your kitty. Just be sure to give them water and then back on bland foods, like cooked chicken. After the diarrhea has stopped, they can be weaned back onto their regular diet. If, however, the diarrhea persists for more than 3 days, you should make an appointment to have your cat’s veterinarian check them out.
Some signs of cat dental issues are extremely obvious:
- Halitosis (Stinky Breath)
- Difficulty Eating
- Loose Teeth
- Bleeding Gums
- Weight Loss
Periodontal diseases are some of the most common ailments affecting cats worldwide. If you’ve contacted your vet and can’t get your cat in immediately, feed your cat soft food. There is very little correlation between soft food and tooth decay. A specialist will take care of your cat’s teeth, allowing them to eat normally and live a better life.
If you have a cat who goes outside, there’s a good chance that they might come into contact with some less than savory bugs. When a cat sneezes, it’s usually something minor, like allergies. If any more symptoms rear their ugly heads, such as fever, coughing, wheezing, green/yellow boogies, or weight loss, it’s time to call a vet, stat.
Most of the time, a kitty cold is not a serious emergency. To help them feel better, supply them with more water. Maybe even try some heated soft food, their equivalent to chicken noodle soup. Keep them warm, and don’t give them any human medications. They’ll return to the prowl after a few days to two weeks.
Broken bones are more prevalent in older cats. That’s not to say that a cat could misjudge a jump, however rare that may be. This temporary lack of grace can lead to some serious injuries.
Look out for limping and avoiding putting any weight on the injured leg. If it’s not immediately noticeable, your cat might be exhibiting some behavior that’s out of the norm. If an ordinarily personable cat is constantly hiding, hissing, or meowing when you attempt to look at the injury, get it to the vet fast.
Be as gentle as possible when getting an injured kitty cat into the carrier and make sure that it’s not moving around too much. Only a cat veterinarian can take care of something as serious as a broken bone.
If your feline friend is looking a little, uh, chunky, it may be a sign of an underactive thyroid. Other signs would be a dull coat with a dusty appearance and even chunks of their coats falling out. The big boy or girl might always search around for warm places to lay in due to lower body temperature. Combined with lethargy and antisocial behaviors, this can be a very serious condition, but it is thankfully treated with certain medications.
If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, make sure to get them checked. Hypothyroidism is a complex medical condition that can be confused with other diseases.
On the other end of the thyroid spectrum is hyperthyroidism. This disease presents with weight loss, extreme thirst and hunger, as well as increased urination. These may not be noticeable at first but become more prevalent when the disease gets worse.
Advanced symptoms can include diarrhea and vomiting. It may seem strange, but a cat with an overactive thyroid might seem to have boundless energy, all while the quality of their fur worsens. Like hypothyroidism, their coat could look lifeless or even greasy. Medications are usually used to treat this condition.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is a very serious condition in cats. Even so, with lifelong treatment, kitties can live out a long and healthy life. Signs of FIV can mimic the symptoms of the common cat cold, like fever, eye/nose discharge, and sneezing. Aside from these, there are some signs that something more serious is at play.
If you start noticing things like fur loss, dental problems, and enlarged lymph nodes, call the vet immediately. If rushed in, your cat vet can usually tell you what to do to care for the cat.
Unfortunately, cats can end up with cancer just like us humans do. Cancer is treated with surgery, radiation, or chemo. While these may be uncomfortable for your cat, it’s all for the better. Your feline veterinarian should be there to help understand the options for treatment, as well as any pros and cons.
Signs of cancer in cats might present as unusual lumps and a lesser appetite (or an increased appetite). While unlikely, if there is a sore or injury that refuses to heal, get it checked immediately. Other signs may be a change in bowel function, like diarrhea or constipation. The earlier the cancer is caught, the better the prognosis.
Nine Lives to Live
Most cats will end up dealing with a health problem in their lives, but that’s just what caring veterinarians are there for. There are even some cat only veterinarian practices out there, like ours here at Catonsville Cat Clinic of Howard County, MD. If your cat is showing any of these symptoms, make sure to get hold of your cat veterinarian for treatment. Your cat may judge you for it, but they’ll get over it!