We know cat health issues are an important problem when it comes to your furry family members. If your cat is sick or injured, you want to know what’s wrong and how you can ease their stress or pain as quickly as possible.
This comprehensive guide can offer help by giving you basic information about many feline health issues and provide a much better understanding. Full articles about each issue are found at PetMD written by veterinarians.
Cats can develop allergies at any age from their environmental surroundings. Some of the typical allergy symptoms include sneezing, wheezing, excessive scratching, and possibly vomiting or diarrhea.
Some of the most common feline allergies are flea, pollen, food, perfume, drug, plastic food bowls, and other various household problems such as mold, dust or mites. Outdoor cats are particularly susceptible to flea and pollen allergies. It merely takes one flea bite to generate severe itchiness up to two or three weeks when your cat is hypersensitive.
Just like skunks have scent glands, every male cat has two anal sacs in his rectum that produce a dark, foul-smelling liquid which he uses to mark territory.
Occasionally the sacs can become inflamed, infected, or completely clogged up. Behavioral warning signs include the butt scoot along the floor, licking or biting near the tail, pain when sitting, straining to defecate, and potential anal swelling.
Older cats, typically over the age of twelve, can or have already developed some form of arthritis. It may cause pain and inflammation in the joints of felines. Symptoms could include less flexibility, swollen joints, stiffness and increased sensitivity when handling them. You might also notice changes in their behavior like a decline in their activity levels and reluctance to running, jumping, or climbing stairs.
As early as the age of six years old, cat’s cartilage between the bones at the joints will begin to deteriorate, which in turn decreases the flexibility. Injuries, dislocations, and infections to the joints can contribute to arthritic development, as well as obesity in cats.
When it comes to cats, an asthma attack can become very painful and possibly life threatening. If you find your kitty coughing, wheezing, or exhibiting shortness of breath, please take him or her to the veterinarian for an examination. Causes for the asthma could be allergens, internal parasites, severe stress, and even obesity.
Female cats between the ages of two and eight years old are more prone to get asthma. Siamese and Himalayan breeds or mixes are very susceptible as well. Asthma and allergies are quite similar as both may be triggered by pollen, chemicals, or other airborne irritants that can lead to inflammation and mucus buildup in the lungs.
Is your cat suffering from a serious case of bad breath? The medical term used to describe the offensive odor is called halitosis. The primary cause is a dental disease known as periodontitis which is an advanced form of gingivitis where the gums become inflamed, red, and swollen.
Other underlying sources could be diabetes, respiratory problems, and viral, bacterial or fungal infections. There are several indications that could lead to a vet visit, especially if you notice your cat pawing at the mouth, not eating, or drooling excessively.
Feline cancer comes in many forms and is difficult to diagnose in cats as they hide their pain very well.
External varieties are somewhat easier to recognize with lumps, bumps or open abscesses. Internal cancer can be quite a bit more complex as symptoms are extremely subtle.
When your cat shows any signs of lethargy, excessive salivation, trouble chewing, difficulty swallowing, vomiting, diarrhea, peculiar bodily discharges, or strange odors, you should have a veterinarian examine your kitty as soon as possible.
Similar to Alzheimer’s disease in humans, cats can also suffer from cognitive dysfunction as they get older. Cats over 11 years of age can begin to show a significant decline in their memory and thought processes which reaches levels of 50% over the age of 15.
Common symptoms of mental deterioration consist of restlessness, wandering, disorientation, vocalization, and memory loss. Stimulating your cat’s mind can help with activities like outside leash walking or possibly a cat stroller, an enclosed outdoor playpen, and something as simple as a view from a window ledge or playing with your senior kitty using toys will aid in keeping them sharp.
Cats normally groom themselves to remove loose hair, dirt and fleas or other parasites. Grooming also spreads natural oils to help keep their coat shiny, promotes well-being, and can be mutually affectionate when another cat is involved.
While cats will groom up to 50% of the time they’re awake, excessive grooming could indicate a deeper issue. Not only could the cat strip the fur from the skin, it can cause a serious hairball problem.
Possible reasons for overgrooming might be an allergy, infection, pain, discomfort, stress, and even boredom for your highly active kitty. If you find it concerning, take your fuzz nugget to the vet’s office to figure out what’s going on.
Normal coughing in cats prevents mucus and foreign matter from clogging airways. Excessive coughing however, can be a potential symptom of a respiratory problem that could merit further investigation if it’s consistent.
Allergies, asthma, aspiration pneumonia, fungal lung infection, lung cancer, heartworms, or even a collar that is too tight around their neck are just a few of the conditions that may be contributing to your kitty’s respiratory distress.
A cat’s natural instinct is to obtain much of the liquids needed through animals they kill. If a cat is not feasting on mice, rats, birds, squirrels, or other prey regularly, chances are they need to find an available water source for rehydration.
Domesticated cats rely on humans to fulfill their water requirements so please be sure your kitty is properly hydrated. Instances of dehydration include loss of appetite, dry mouth, panting, inactivity, decreased skin elasticity, and elevated heart rate.
Dental care is very important for your feline friend and more often than not, completely overlooked except for the occasional dental inspired cat treats. The likelihood your kitty will develop dental disease as he or she ages is just about guaranteed.
Veterinarians recommend regular brushing of cat’s teeth and dental exams twice a year. If your cat is showing signs of mouth pain, drooling, bleeding gums, or even lack of appetite, it’s a reasonable assumption that dental disease has already begun.
Cats typically defecate 2-4 times each day and periodically run into problems such as diarrhea or constipation. While this condition is generally only temporary, extended bouts could suggest a more serious issue.
Diarrhea normally takes the form of runny or pudding-like to gooey or greasy with mucus. The different types indicate various stomach or intestinal problems that usually last for about a day. If it’s any longer, further attention may be necessary.
Constipation on the other hand, is routinely easier to diagnose. Small, hard, dry poop would constitute dehydration. If the feces has hair in it, overgrooming is a distinct possibility. Thin, ribbon-like poop could mean colon problems such as a tumor.
A cat that drips saliva when overstimulated by human petting or scratching is not concerning. If a continuous stream of drool is present, this can be a serious condition.
Mouth disease, tooth decay, heat stroke, panting, liver or kidney disease, poisonous plants, and upper respiratory infection can all cause oral or nasal discharge. Excessive drooling should not to be taken lightly as it typically reveals an underlying issue.
While cats don’t get ear infections very often, the actual cause can sometimes be elusive. Ruling out the common symptom of ear mites, which is around 50% of all ear infection cases, means the vet will have to do some investigating.
Whether it’s an external or middle ear infection, the cause can be one of many possibilities including wax buildup, thick hair, tumors or polyps in the ear canal, an overgrowth of yeast or bacteria, lodged foreign matter, diabetes, a ruptured eardrum, and perhaps yet a simple instance of improper ear cleaning.
For those of you who need help identifying the most common ear issues, we give the top 8 problems for cats. If they are scratching uncontrollably and their heads are shaking, you’ll likely find the answers you seek here.
When cats refuse to eat, it can lead to rapid weight loss obviously, protein deficiency, and stored fat reserves that overwhelm the liver which eventually ends in the organ shutting down. A quick response should alleviate the dire situation however, for serious medical circumstances that arise, you will definitely need to consult a local veterinarian.
Possible reasons your cat won’t eat are illness, recent vaccinations, dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, unfamiliar surroundings, cat or dog intimidation, upper respiratory infection, and finally… stress, anxiety or depression.
Eye conditions in cats can range from minor issues to more serious problems that could require surgical procedures. Identifying these conditions is simply a matter of observing irregularities and examining closely to determine the course of action that’s needed.
There are several basic indicators including redness, swelling, discharge, rubbing, squinting or watery eyes. Outdoor cats and multi-cat households are more susceptible to injuries due to fighting. Bleeding, scratches, cuts and other more serious damage to the eyes demand the immediate attention of a qualified veterinarian.
So, you’re diligently cleaning the litter box however, you should also be paying close attention to the three C’s… color, consistency, and content.
Normally your cat’s poop is dark brown in color. If it’s black, that indicates blood is being passed and is a serious matter. A cat’s stool should also be firm. Liquid or paste consistency could call for further investigation.
Keep a close eye on the content of the fecal matter. Hair is commonly found mixed in but excessive amounts can suggest an underlying condition. If you see any foreign objects such as string, pieces of a cat toy, or anything that looks out of the ordinary, you should keep those things away from your kitty.
Tapeworms may be visible as well. They are similar to white rice in appearance and can possibly be found moving.
This is a highly communicable, common virus typically transmitted among cats who have not been vaccinated, particularly in multiple cat facilities or households. Veterinarians strongly advise this yearly vaccination which can cause severe symptoms.
If your cat shows signs of eye or nasal discharge, ulcers (tongue, mouth, nose or claws), difficulty breathing or pneumonia, pain when walking, arthritis in the joints, fever, or bleeding from various areas… please consult your local veterinarian immediately.
Cats can develop diabetes just like humans. Obesity, prolonged use of steroids, and feeding your cat too much human food are some of the main causes of feline diabetes.
If you notice symptoms such as weight loss even though your kitty has a good appetite, increased water consumption, more frequent urination, lethargic behavior, or unusual instances of additional vomiting, you may need to have an medical examination done to determine if it’s feline diabetes or some other problem.
This variation of herpes in the feline world is slightly different than that found in humans. It may appear as a head cold in cats with sneezing, eye and nasal discharge, appetite loss, or fever. Another symptom typically associated with the onset of a herpes attack is the slight closing of an eyelid.
Once your cat is infected with the virus, generally contracted in multi-cat situations, attacks can be brought on by stress so be sure to keep normal routines with your kitty regular. Any deviation from those routines may trigger a herpes outbreak.
When you visit your veterinarian, they will usually perform a battery of tests to establish a course of action. Antibiotics are frequently prescribed to suppress herpes symptoms.
FIV is a complex retrovirus in cats that’s similar to HIV in humans and can lead to more serious immune system complications if left unchecked. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus will incubate for months or even years before showing any symptoms. This virus is primarily transmitted through a cat’s saliva so outdoor and multi-cat households are more vulnerable.
A cat infected with FIV can have a normal life expectancy as the disease tends to show signs later in a cat’s life. Unfortunately at this time, there is no cure for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. As it progresses into the advanced stages, it is important to keep a close eye on your cat and maintain regular visits to a veterinarian for updates.
Although rare, this is a deadly disease which is typically 100% fatal in cats. Recently however, there has been a drug that offers hope for FIP. Polyprenyl Immunostimulant shows promise in some cats by improving their quality of life and may even extend survival rates.
Cats that develop Feline Infectious Peritonitis also have a non-harmful virus known as Feline Enteric Coronavirus or FECV. Progression to FIP involves a complex gene mutation and an immune system deficiency. Symptoms include fluid accumulation in the abdominal or chest cavities for the disease’s wet form and can also have lesions around various organs such as the pleural cavity, abdominal cavity, central nervous system, or the eyes for the dry form.
While this infection is lethal in cats, it is completely preventable with a vaccine injection provided your kitty does not already have the virus. Cats with FeLV may not show any signs, even for years. Normal symptoms consist of…
There is no known cure for the Feline Leukemia Virus but lately, some medications have shown promise. Cats contract FeLV from other cats. Bites, close contact, grooming and sharing dishes or litter boxes are the primary sources of transmission.
This virus is also commonly known as feline distemper. It is highly contagious and a life threatening virus among the cat population. The good news is it’s preventable with regular vaccinations at your local veterinarian.
Should unvaccinated cats be infected with the virus, it may exhibit symptoms like vomiting, dehydration, diarrhea, weight loss, anemia, depression, hiding, and loss of balance. It can mimic other types of conditions such as poisoning, Feline Leukemia (FeLV), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and pancreatitis to mention just a few. It is very important, when visiting the vet, to give as much information as possible to help identify the virus. They will usually perform a thorough physical examination and several lab tests to determine the appropriate course of action.
A cat’s normal body temperature is between 99.5 and 102.5 degrees fahrenheit. If their temperature rises above 103.5 degrees, it has a fever or medically known as pyrexia.
A fever in short term can be good for cats as it is a healthy biological response to a bacterial or viral threat. If the fever remains too high for a prolonged period of time, medical treatment will be necessary. Keep in mind that if a fever is only a symptom, your veterinarian will need to perform various tests and get a detailed history of the cat in order to properly diagnose the situation.
If you’re laying their with your kitty and all of the sudden you notice a foul odor in the air, your furry companion may have a gas problem. Unlike humans, flatulence in felines typically comes from swallowing too much air, mostly when eating.
The occasional foul-smelling fumes are ordinarily associated with the fermentation of nutrients in the intestinal tract. Although, when the gases are accompanied by vomiting, diarrhea, a lack of appetite or weight loss, this could indicate a deeper, underlying problem. Pay close attention if you think it may be serious and get your vet’s advice.
These pests are extremely common among cats and you may not even notice the problem until scabs begin to appear as cats are persistent groomers. Thankfully, treatments have improved considerably and are widely available over the counter.
First off, NEVER use a flea treatment meant for dogs as this can actually be fatal for cats. You need to obtain a treatment specifically designed for cats as they are very sensitive to certain medications. It would be best to seek out the advise of a veterinarian for an accurate assessment and the most suitable medication.
Flea collars were not normally recommended for cats as they were typically ineffective deterrents. However, recently Bayer has come out with the Seresto collar which kills fleas within 24 hours and works up to 8 months. There are also topical and oral products which work well but again, please consult your vet to find the most effective solution.
While you may think coughing up hairballs is normal for a cat, it actually means your kitty has possible intestinal problems. Not only that but it can also suggest your feline friend has obsessive-compulsive grooming issues as well. If the hairballs persist, you should see a vet to figure out a course of action that will resolve the situation.
Hair loss in cats is fairly routine and typically referred to as alopecia. There are various causes of hair loss from fleas, allergies, parasites and fungal issues to nervous disorders and hormonal imbalances. Redness, bumps, scabs and skin loss may indicate a more serious underlying problem so, it is important to seek the advice of your veterinarian.
These parasitic worms are transmitted through a bite from a mosquito with microfilaria, a larval form of heartworms found in the bloodstream of infected animals. Cats that are bitten eventually develop fully matured heartworms in the arteries of the lungs and in the heart. Outdoor cats are most affected but indoor cats can contract the illness as well.
The symptoms are similar to asthma which include vomiting, weight loss, lack of appetite, panting and abnormal breathing patterns. Unfortunately heartworms are difficult to detect in felines however, they are completely preventable with monthly oral and topical medications that are available. If you live in an area with high incidents of mosquitoes, please ask your vet what you can do to prevent heartworms in your kitty.
This disease is typically found in older cats (average age is 13 years old) and is normally caused by a benign tumor in the thyroid gland. One of the main functions of the thyroid gland is to regulate metabolism and hyperthyroidism is actually quite common in cats.
Signs of the disease range from vomiting, diarrhea, weight loss and difficulty breathing to increased appetite, excessive drinking and urinating. There are several options of relief available depending on your financial situation. Radioiodine therapy which completely cures the disease, surgery to remove the thyroid gland, and finally the most common solution, methimazole medication which is in either pill form or a topical gel applied to the cat’s ear.
Kidney (renal) diseases can be congenital or developmental. There are many different types of the disease. Your veterinarian will perform several tests to diagnose the disease and need a complete background history of the cat.
The most obvious symptoms include no appetite, no energy, excessive thirst, excessive urination, weight loss, vomiting, enlarged abdomen, bloody urine, abdominal pain, and fluid buildup under the skin.
Excessive demodex mites, not visible to the eye, are the cause of an inflammatory skin condition known as mange. These mites are typically found on the skin but when the immune system is compromised by stress or illness, their population can rapidly multiply resulting in the manifestation of skin lesions and hair loss.
Skin and hair samples are usually taken to identify the problem however, a urine test can also help to find the root cause of the compromised immune system. About 90% of cases of mange will resolve itself naturally but medications or lime-sulphur dips may be necessary for more severe instances.
When infectious, chemical, or inflammatory materials irritate the nasal passages, the result can be a watery, thick, and mucus-like discharge. There are various causes which can be properly diagnosed by a local veterinarian. Antibiotics, anti-fungal, and antiviral medications are typically prescribed as well as dental work for those with diseased teeth. If tumors or polyps are involved, they will need to be surgically removed.
We know you love your cats and would give them anything they desired including a few too many treats or a little too much food. Unfortunately, this can bring on excessive weight, especially as your kitty becomes older. More calories and less exercise can add up to problems that need addressing to keep your sweet companion healthy.
The obvious solution is to reduce caloric intake and increase their physical activities which is what your vet will most likely recommend. A diet plan that is high in protein and fiber while being low in fat and carbs is perfect. The time spent keeping your cat active will help out immensely so, bring out those toys, laser pointers, and other entertaining games. This is not a short term solution, it’s a lifestyle change that’s necessary for health and happiness.
It is often difficult to tell if a cat is pregnant during the early stages. The only way to be sure is to have a blood test, ultrasound, or x-rays. Eventually, the abdomen becomes rounder and the nipples begin to protrude more than usual. The gestation period or cat pregnancy length is generally around 65 days but can vary a few days either way.
Be sure to feed your queen (pregnant cat) high calorie cat food labeled for pregnancy, lactation or for kittens. Smaller more frequent meals are in order because of the limited space for the stomach while being pregnant. To help protect the unborn kittens, please take the following safety precautions to ensure a healthy pregnancy…
In the first stage of labor, your kitty will be restless and may pant or vocalize more. The second stage is the actual birth. Kittens are born every 30-60 minutes and average about 4-6 kittens per litter. The third and final stage involves the afterbirth. The placenta is a greenish-black mass expelled after each kitten’s birth. If the placenta is not discharged after every kitten, contact the vet immediately. Note: you may need to wipe away afterbirth and sever the umbilical cord near the kitten if the mother doesn’t do it.
Rabies is commonly found in wild animals however, any mammal can become infected if they are bitten and exposed. Rabies is extremely dangerous as it is a fatal disease once the symptoms begin in animals. This is why it’s very important to get your cat vaccinated. Outdoor cats are most vulnerable but indoor cats are also known to slip out the door once in a while so it’s best to be prepared. We love our cute kitties and don’t want to lose them!
Side effects are rare but can temporarily include a slight fever, lethargy, decreased appetite, and some minor swelling around the vaccination area. Cost can vary depending on the type of injection and the time between shots. An adjuvanted vaccine is the least expensive while the non-adjuvanted vaccine is definitely the better choice if available. There is the option for a yearly vaccination or the more expensive three year alternative.
One of the most common reasons people take their cats to the vet is some sort of skin condition. With such a broad scope of symptoms, let’s focus on the seven primary sources that cause itchy skin, compulsive chewing, hair loss, lesions, and other skin inflammation.
When a cat sneezes, this is simply an ordinary function to expel irritants from their nose. If your cat sneezes consistently over and over again, there may be a deeper problem that exists. When sneezing is related to environmental sources like dust, mold, or pollen, it is generally viewed as normal. Sneezing associated with disease, viral or bacterial conditions is another matter and should be reason for concern.
There are more serious underlying problems that might cause sneezing episodes which include viral respiratory infections, bacterial infections, inflammation, foreign material irritation, dental disease, nasal tumors, and fungal infections to name a few. If you are worried your kitty is exhibiting unusual symptoms, please contact your veterinarian.
When a cat’s stomach is not properly digesting food, this is commonly known as stasis (slowing or stopping of stomach movement). Your kitty may experience abdominal pain, bloating, rumbling noises, vomiting, decreased appetite, or possibly weight loss in extreme cases. In order to diagnose the situation, your vet will need to perform a variety of tests to determine the problem.
While the accumulation of hair in the stomach (hairballs) is typically the most frequent cause, there are other potential issues which may arise listed below.
If you find a swollen foot on your cat, it is definitely not something you should take lightly. It ordinarily involves only one paw or simply a single toe. Examine it carefully for foreign objects, wounds, or toenails growing into the pad. When nothing is visibly wrong, a broken bone may be the problem. Consult a veterinarian to resolve the issue if needed.
This parasitic infection is one of the most common diseases known to affect felines. Cats can get the parasite when rooting through tainted soil or consuming cat feces. If unborn kittens become infected in the womb, they may be stillborn or die before weaning.
Chronic toxoplasmosis is usually a low-grade disease that shows no signs however, the acute form displays a wide variety of clinical symptoms…
Veterinarians get calls everyday from concerned cat owners because their sweet little furball has runny, swollen eyes and is sneezing constantly. Almost 90% of upper respiratory infections are caused by feline herpesvirus or feline calicivirus, both of which could have been avoided with simple vaccinations. Kitties who are exposed to other cats, (especially unvaccinated cats) such as those in shelters or catteries, are most vulnerable. If your cat is sniffling, coughing, sneezing, has a fever, nasal discharge, or a raspy meow, contact a vet to figure out your course of action.
Idiopathic Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, also referred to as IFLUTD, is known for several disorders which symptoms include bloody urine, painful urination, unusual frequent urination, urinating in odd places, and possible urethral blockage.
There is no actual physical cause, but IFLUTD can often be brought on by the stress of deviating from a cat’s normal routine or a sudden change in their surrounding environment. The veterinarian will perform various tests to determine the treatment.
Cats will vomit, it’s a cold hard fact. A single episode every once in a while is normal however, if a cat regurgitates multiple times daily, there may be underlying problems that need to be addressed. The occasional hairball is all right but if you find blood among the vomited contents, you will need to contact the veterinarian immediately. Typically it’s just food that’s regurgitated so, if you can identify the source and eliminate it from their diet, you may be able to solve the problem without the expense of vet visit.
The excessive flow of tears in cats is referred to as epiphora. Congenital abnormalities account for a majority of cases but it can also be brought on by certain conditions like rhinitis/sinusitis, conjunctivitis (pink eye), facial trauma, foreign matter in the eye, tumors, and a multitude of other medical problems.
Besides the obvious drainage of tears, symptoms consist of squinting, redness, irritation, inflammation, eye discharge, corneal ulcers, and loose or sagging skin around the eye. Treatments range from removing irritants in the eye to pain relieving ointments to surgery for the more serious incidents.
So your cat is looking a little chunky and you’ve decided to find your beloved kitty a healthy diet. First off, please consult a veterinarian before starting any weight loss plan because it’s not as simple as food restriction.
Rapid weight loss can be dangerous for your feline friend, possibly resulting in hepatic lipidosis (fatty liver disease). Your vet will most likely recommend a gradual reduction of about 1% to 2% of your cat’s total body weight per week. Calorie intake, portion sizes, and a feeding schedule are precisely calculated for safe and healthy weight loss.
Basically three methods of a proper diet plan are implemented. To begin with, there are two versions of cat weight loss food which are routinely prescribed… high fiber/low fat or high protein/low carbohydrate. Exercise is highly encouraged. Activities involving play with feather wands, laser pointers, and catnip toys will help burn calories. Climbing cat trees or cat shelves is also suggested. Finally, automatic feeders and treat balls can help limit the amount of food ingested which contributes to long-term weight management.
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