Preventive Health Care For Your Cat
Cats are certainly not smaller versions of dogs. The evolution of cats and their behavior has led to adaptations that may hide injury and illness to protect themselves from harm. For this reason and others, sometimes cats may suffer from acute or chronic disease states although they appear on the surface quite healthy. As veterinarians, we strive to help keep our feline patients happy and healthy. Picking up on subtle clues and routine examinations are critical to helping to ensure your pet’s health. In the following article, I will discuss feline health in general, emphasizing subtle clues for owners to monitor for at home.
Is your cat eating the same amount as always? Have you noticed your senior citizen cat has become ravenously hungry lately? Is he/she eating more but still losing weight? These signs could indicate hyperthyroid disease, the most common endocrine disorder of older aged cats. Hyperthyroid cats may also urinate or defecate outside of the litter box and may have an unkempt hair coat. If diagnosed early, Hyperthyroid disease is controllable through medication. However, untreated Hyperthyroid disease is fatal. So if you suspect your cat has any of the above clinical signs, don’t wait and schedule an examination to have them evaluated. A simple blood test can often diagnose hyperthyroid disease so that treatment can be started to help control this disease.
Is your cat drinking the same as always? Increased drinking and urination can be difficult to discern at home, especially in multi-cat households. Instead, have you noticed your cat going into the litter box more frequently? Or, are you noticing yourself cleaning larger amounts of urine from the box or having to clean more regularly? Increased thirst and urination could indicate a systemic disease like diabetes or liver disease in your cat.
Is your cat sneezing or coughing? While some sneezing cases may be from benign causes like a common Upper Respiratory Infection, coughing or discharge from sneezes could indicate a bacterial component to the infection, feline asthma, or other more serious disease states. If your cat is coughing at home, it may be helpful to take a video with your phone and schedule an examination with a member of our veterinary team who will listen to your cat’s heart and lungs to determine if an underlying disease or condition is present.
Does your cat have diarrhea? There are many causes of diarrhea in cats. Young cats/kittens may have G.I. worms or Parasites, may be intolerant to their food, or possibly even have a food allergy. Middle age to older cats are susceptible to a condition called Inflammatory Bowel Disease and even G.I Lymphoma.
Is your cat urinating the same as always? Have you noticed straining to urinate, blood, or licking at the urinary opening? If so, male cats are particularly prone to Urinary Issues, including Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.
Cat Preventive Healthcare
As you can see, there are many signs at home that can help alert you and your veterinarian to a problem. All cats should have a Physical Examination at least once a year by a veterinarian and to update vaccines. Fecal samples should be screened for G.I. worms and parasites, and senior-aged cats benefit from yearly blood work to evaluate for anemia, kidney, liver, and other organ problems.
For more information on cat wellness or to schedule a physical examination, please call one of our Veterinary Hospitals to speak to a member of our veterinary team. 267-800-PETS.
Jeffrey Stupine VMD
World of Animals Veterinary Hospitals