Cat Diseases and Health Problems in Cats: Prevention and Cure
If you are a cat owner, you already know that your cat is prone to sickness and other health complications. Some diseases are very contagious, while others are easily contained. Some feline disease may even be hereditary, while others can be easily prevented. As a cat owner, you must know about cat diseases, vaccinations and medications.
Proper vaccination and regular check up, both are necessary to let your cat remain healthy. Make sure your cat has been given all the necessary vaccines such as anti-distemper vaccine, anti-rabies vaccine etc. You can prevent many diseases when you administer quality food. To ensure good health, you must also understand your cat’s behavior and monitor its activities. If you observe your cat thoroughly, you can sight many diseases in the early stages. If your cat is not eating properly, showing lack of energy, behaving sluggish; has dull coat, skin patches, and loss of fur, these symptoms indicates sickness and health complications.
Grooming is cat’s favorite activity. While grooming, it is normal for cats to swallows its loose hair from their coat. Sometimes these hair-strands, instead of passing into feces, gather to form a ball and get stuck in the alimentary canal, most of the time in the stomach. This common problem in cat is called hairball problem. Most of the time, cat can throw up hairball without any aid, however, sometimes it can be a serious problem. In a serious case, hairball passes into intestine and creates a blockage. This can threaten a cat’s life.
If a cat has hairball blockage, it coughs vigorously, does not eat properly, suffers from constipation and has a dull coat. You should immediately take your cat to the vet. Hairball blockages can be prevented by regularly brushing your cat and feeding food that helps to control hairball.
Pica is an eating disorder in humans (mostly amongst children) and animals, in which non-nutritional foods are eaten regularly. Feeding your cat with too much roughage (indigestible plant food low in nutrients) stimulates intestinal peristalsis and may cause health complications and severe disease such as feline leukemia. Similarly, overfeeding may also result in diabetes and thyroid dysfunction.
Rabies is an acute viral disease of the nervous system in warm-blooded animals. Rabies is fatal if the viruses reach the brain. Rabies is caused when saliva of rabid animal, which contains virus, passes into the blood of bitten animal or humans. To prevent feline rabies, you have to give your cat anti-rabies vaccines.
Feline Distemper (Also Called Panleukopenia)
Distemper is a devastating viral disease in animals, which is also occurs in cat. Cat distemper, called feline distemper, is common in the kittens between two–six months old. Distemper is infectious and chances of death from this disease, when not contained, is very high. Another alarming fact about this disease is it spreads very fast giving you little time to seek treatment. Distemper is caused by parvovirus type 2. Parvovirus is not associated with human diseases. The symptoms of feline distemper include vomiting, coughing, sneezing, loss of appetite, diarrhea, fever and running eyes and nose. Kitten must be vaccinated to give them immunity against distemper. Antibiotics are also available to contain this disease.
The level of blood sugar (glucose) is controlled by insulin, a hormone produced by pancreas. Diabetes is caused by increase or decrease of glucose in the blood in the absence of enough insulin. The feline diabetes symptoms include frequent vomiting, loss of appetite, passiveness, increase in urine and thirst, poor coat, and weight loss. Cat may also fall into coma. Feline diabetes is a serious, yet preventive disease.
Feline diabetes can be treated with insulin shot. Number of shots and frequency of shots depend on the seriousness of disease. Before giving insulin shot, the cat must be fed properly. Otherwise your cat might go into hypoglycemic shock, or even die. Hypoglycemic shock may also occur when the cat is given too much insulin. If proper care is given and amount of insulin is monitored, diabetic cat may have a normal life.
Leukemia, one of the four major types of cancer, is malignant tumor of blood-forming tissues, which is also common in cat. This occurs when leukocytes (White Blood Cells) proliferates. Feline leukemia occurs in domestic cat (Felis) and in other cats in family felidae (lions; leopards; cheetahs, tigers). Feline leukemia is fatal as well as contagious. The symptoms include diarrhea, loss of body weight, depression and enlargement of the lymph gland. Treatment of feline leukemia has not been discovered, however, preventive vaccines are available.
Feline leukemia does not pass to human but it is contagious amongst cats. If your cat has this disease, you have to isolate it and immediately. You also have to be careful about not exposing your cat to other cats that have this disease.
Urinary Tract Infection
Cat can also suffer from urinary tract infection (UTI), which is more common in male cat compared to female cat. Non-neutered cat is more prone to UTI. The symptoms of UTI include cat’s unwillingness to urinate and smelly urine. If your cat shows these symptoms, you should immediately consult the vet. UTI can be very painful, even fatal; however, it is curable.
Worm infection is very common in outdoor cats. Your cat can be infected with different kinds of worm such as roundworms, tapeworms, or hookworms. Worm infection is a common problem, it is also a recurring problem. When the cat has worms, it shows symptoms such as flea infection, white specks in feces, dull coat, loss of appetite, bad breath, and weight gain. Your cat can be infected with worms when it consumes rodents (dead or alive), or even through fleas and lice. Worms get into cat body through the food that contain eggs of worms, mostly when it eat rodents. These eggs will develop into worms of different kinds and make you cat sick.
You can prevent worms by feeding garlic to your cat frequently. Your cat can be easily de-wormed with medicines. However, if worms are not treated, they may be fatal for your cat.
Ringworm, which is common in humans as well as animals, is a skin disease caused by fungi called dermatophytes. Dermatophytes fungi feed on dead tissues on the skin causing itching and circular patches. Ringworm in cat is caused by M Canis fungi. A cat catches ringworm from other animals as well as contaminated things such as bed, clothing items, clippers etc.
Kittens are more prone to ringworm because they have poor immune system. If your cat roams too much, it may also catch this disease from other cats with ringworm. The symptoms include hair loss, skin patches that looks red and itchy, broken hairs, and scaly skin. If your cat shows these signs, you should never touch these areas and keep the cat away from children because ringworm is infectious. You should always wear globes while handling cat with ringworm.
Medication of ringworm includes tablets or ointment. Tablets are administered with meals and ointment are applied on the coat. Ringworm is a mild disease but has slow recovery. The healing process is around six weeks or more.
Heartworm is a serious condition in cats and dogs, in which worms begin to feed on the area around the heart. Even though you can find medicine for heartworm easily in the local department store, you should always take this disease seriously and take your cat to the vet. This condition can be fatal when it is not handled properly.
After the treatment of heartworms, the dead heartworms may cause other serious problems. For instance, the dead heartworm can be deposited in the arteries and inflame the heart. When the deposited heartworms begin to decompose, it could cause many health complications.
In serious case, cat infested with heartworms may also have to stay in the hospital for proper medical attention. Heartworm drugs may also have side effects in a cat, body of certain cat breeds may even reject the medicine. You should always consult a professional for the treatment best suitable for your cat. To determine the proper treatment, the vet will run several tests. If you take your cat to the vet for regular check up, you can not only determine the heartworm in the early stage, but also other several diseases.
Diarrhea and Vomiting
Diarrhea and vomiting could be caused by contaminated food, or may be the symptoms of other diseases. You have to prevent your cat eating rodents as these may disrupt the bowels. Diarrhea maybe caused by parasites such as roundworms, tapeworms, and protozoan coccidian. Diarrhea may be a result of serious illness or simply reflect a change in diet.
If cat vomits soon after eating, it may be because of hairballs, food allergy, or even feline leukemia. In normal conditions, anti-diarrhea and anti-vomiting tablets may work. If diarrhea and vomiting does not stop, take your cat to the vet.
Cat is prone to internal and external parasites. External parasites include fleas, lice, ticks, and ear mites. Internal parasites include roundworms, tapeworms, and hookworms. External parasites can be controlled with ointments and internal parasites with injections or tablet.
Bacteria found in the mouth of humans as well as animals break down protein and releases sulfur compound. Sulfur has unpleasant odor, which is one of the reasons of bad breath. Another reason of bad breath is tartar. Tartar is the yellow colored crust of bacteria, food particles and minerals on the teeth and gums. Sometimes bad breath may also indicate some serious kidney or liver diseases. If the reason of bad breath is not because of tartar, you should take your cat to the vet, for it may indicate other diseases.
In order to stop cat’s bad breath, you will have to prevent the building up of tartar, or cleaning tartar. Building up of tartar can be prevented by feeding your cat with foods especially designed to reduce tartar. These special foods contain enzymes that dissolve tartar. You can also brush your cat’s teeth with toothpaste that prevents building up of tartar. Frequent brushing with toothpaste that dissolves tartar will stop bad breath.
If tartar has already been deposited on your cat’s teeth, you can clean them by electric cat brush and toothpaste that contain enzymes that dissolves tartar. Alternately, you can also take your cat to a vet for teeth clean up.
How to Give a Pill to Your Cat
Your cat will never like the smell of pills. If your cat is sick and you have to give him pills, it can be a daunting task. Since a cat has claws and canines, it could hurt you when you force pills into its mouth. Here are some tips that might help you.
Crush the tablet between the two spoons, mix the powder in cat food. Since the odor and taste of the pill will be lost in the food, cat will eat the medicine without knowing it.
If the medicine is in capsule, open the capsule and mix it in wet food and administer it to your cat.
You can also use a pet piller/pill gun to give pills to your cat. Open the mouth of your cat and shoot the pill directly into its throat.
If you are using pet piller or gun, you have to hold your cat steady and not letting him to wiggle loose. You also have to open his mouthy for a while.
You can also give pills to your cat by hand. In doing so, you will have to open the cat’s mouth wide and directly throw the pill into the back of his throat. Once the pill is inside, you have to close its mouth immediately so that he will not throw up the pill.
If the medicine is in suspension, get flavored liquid cat food and mix it to make gel.
© 2013 Vinaya Ghimire
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