COMMON CAT HEALTH PROBLEMS AND DISEASES

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Submitted Date 06/17/2019
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Cats are amazing animals. They are loving, self-sufficient, and bring much joy to our lives. As cat owners, we aim to take care of our fur babies the best we can, buying them the best food, providing regular vet care, toys, and a stimulating environment.

However, there are times when our babies do get sick. Cats are experts at not letting on when they don't feel right. Why? They can't show their illness in the wild because they will become another animal's prey. In this post, I'm going to cover some common ailments and diseases in cats to help you assess your cat's health in case a vet visit is in order.

Common Health Problems

1. Vomiting

Vomiting is common in cats, and there can be many reasons why kitty is heaving. Some causes are eating something poisonous or inedible, infections, urinary tract issues, and hairballs. Vomiting can dehydrate your cat, so keep a close eye on them. If vomiting continues, call your veterinarian right away.

Colin usually throws up hairballs, and he also likes to eat his sister's timothy hay. (His sister is a rabbit.) I give him a special gel for his hairballs once or twice a week, which seems to help.

2. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases

This affects about 3% of cats and is a group of feline diseases. It can affect both male and female cats. Cats who are overweight or cats who are under stress tend to develop this disease. Treatment depends on what kind of feline lower urinary tract your cat has. Some symptoms to watch out for are:

* Straining to urinate
* Bloody urine
* Crying when urinating
* Urinating outside the litter box
* Lack of appetite

3. Fleas

Fleas are a common health issue in cats, and some symptoms include constant scratching, frequent licking, and hair loss. It's essential to keep your cat (yes, even indoor cats) on flea treatment year round. Talk to your vet about what option is best for you.

4. Tapeworms

Tapeworms live in a cat's small intestine and can grow as long as two feet. They are usually segmented and break apart as they are passed. Symptoms are often subtle but include vomiting and weight loss. The easiest way to tell if your cat has tapeworms is to look at its poop and around its anus. Worms will come out of its butt when it is relaxed or sleeping. Tapeworms look like small white worms, grains of rice, and sesame seeds. Treatment can be either an injection, an oral medication, or a topical medication. What causes tapeworms? Usually, it means your cat has swallowed a flea, so make sure you tackle the flea issue first.

5. Diarrhea

Diarrhea in cats can be caused by many things, including intestinal parasites, allergies, bad food, infection, and cancer, to name a few things. Kitty will have a loose, watery or liquid stool which can last for a few days, a week or a month. Make sure your cat has access to plenty of fresh water as diarrhea can cause dehydration. Make sure you remove their food for 12-24 hours. If your cat has diarrhea after a day, take them to the vet. However, if your cat is vomiting, has dark or bloody stools, is lethargic or is straining to defecate, take them to your vet or the emergency vet immediately.

6. Eye Problems

There are many things which can cause eye problems in cats, including conjunctivitis (pink eye to us), corneal ulcers, cataracts, viruses, etc. If you notice your cat has watery eyes, tear-stained fur, cloudiness, or junk in the corner of the eye, call your vet. These symptoms should be considered an emergency, and your cat needs to be seen immediately.

Upper respiratory infections can also cause eye problems. My cat Colin came into the shelter with an upper respiratory infection that had progressed so bad that he had a corneal ulcer. This, in turn, caused him to lose his eye. In saying this, keep a close eye on your cat if they seem to have upper respiratory congestion and get it treated as soon as possible.

Common Illnesses In Senior Cats

Senior cats are the best and still have lots of life to live and love to give. Don't overlook them at the shelter. However, they come with their own set of health problems. Here are some common diseases that senior cats are prone to.

7. Diabetes

Diabetes affects older cats and has an exceptionally sharp increase in frequency after seven years of age. Diabetes in cats is related to obesity; therefore, it is essential to keep your cat at a healthy weight. Like people, cats with diabetes receive shots via insulin one or two times a day and also require changes to their diet. Some symptoms to look for in your older cat include increased urination, excessive thirst, and increased hunger.

8. Weight Loss

Weight loss isn't an "illness," but it can be attributed to many illnesses. Some illnesses that come from excessive weight loss include chronic kidney disease, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, and intestinal inflammatory disease. Older cats can also lose weight due to loss of appetite. This loss of appetite can include dental problems, their sense of smell and taste deteriorating, or digestive orders that prevent proper nutrients from being absorbed by their bodies. If you notice your cat losing weight at a rapid pace, get them into the vet as soon as possible.

9. Chronic Kidney Failure

This disease is close to my heart because my previous cat, Carlton, had it and I had to put him down because of it. Kidney failure can either be acute or chronic, and symptoms include vomiting, weight loss, excessive urination, and lethargy.

I didn't find out Carlton had kidney disease until I had his blood work done. I had just adopted him a few months prior, and at the time, I didn't exactly understand what this meant as far as his life expectancy. I immediately got him on prescription food, and we started checking his kidney enzymes every month. Eventually, I had to give him subcutaneous fluids at home. He was such a champ and never complained much. However, my "meowmy" intuition knew as time went on that he wasn't going to get any better. I finally decided to put him down a year and nine months after adopting him.

If you notice any of the symptoms above in your cat, I beg you to get their blood work done immediately. You may be able to catch the kidney disease in its early stages, get your cat on prescription food and extend their life just a little bit more.

Many illnesses and diseases can affect our cats, but with a watchful eye, we can get them treated and back to the life they love. We may also be able to get the disease under control before it gets out of hand. I hope this list helps you to make sure your cat has the happiest, healthiest life possible.

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