Common Cat Health Problems Including Kidney Disease, Heart Disease and Even Asthma!
Cats are amazing and wonderful animals. Just ask any cat lover and they will tell you that cats are easy to care for, independent pets. Though cats do have reputations for being low-maintenance when it comes to health issues, the fact is that they too develop illnesses and contract diseases. So what are some of the most common cat related health problems? Well, I'm glad you asked! Below are several common health problems that can affect your pretty puss. Remember, be pro-active when it comes your cat's health care! Take your cat to the vet for his or her yearly check-up and keep an eye on your cat's general behavior. The sooner you recognize that your cat is ill or having a problem, the better!
If you have a cat, keep a health reference book handy! Great for emergency situations.
Unfortunately, almost all cats (indoor and outdoor) develop an abscess at one point or another. An abscess is, in a nutshell, a pocket of pus that has collected under the skin (lovely, I know). So what causes an abscess to form? Well, usually they develop as a result of a puncture wound….usually from the bite of another animal. If you have an outdoor cat (and I highly recommend keeping your cat INSIDE for safety reasons) it is important that you check your cat from head to toe on a regular basis to make sure he has no puncture wounds. Puncture wounds can easily become infected and cause serious health problems. If you discover that your cat does indeed have an abscess, you should take him to the veterinarian as soon as possible so that the affected area can be opened, flushed, cleaned and treated with antibiotics. Though abscesses aren't pretty (dealing with pus never is), the good news is that they can be taken care of rather easily!
Unfortunately, asthma is not only a human condition…it can affect cats too! Like humans, cats that suffer from asthma have difficulty breathing. They often wheeze, gag and struggle to catch their breath (it is sometimes a frightening sight!). You can always tell when a cat is having trouble breathing as he will sit with his neck extended and mouth open as he inhales and exhales rapidly. If you suddenly see your cat gasping for air (and this is the first time you have noticed this behavior) DO NOT chase your pet! Allow your cat to calm down and then carefully put him into his cat carrier and take him to the vet as soon as possible. If you chase a cat that is having an asthmatic episode…you will only make it more difficult for him to breath! Once your vet actually diagnosis asthma as the problem, he or she will prescribe medication that will make your cat's life (and breathing!) a bit easier as the medication will ease his symptoms. Unfortunately, no one knows what exactly causes feline asthma, however, you can help your asthmatic kitty out by minimizing his exposure to dust (use a low-dust litter such as World's Best Cat Litter which is made of corn), and other aerosol sprays that may be irritating. If your cat is diagnosed with asthma, it is important that you keep a close eye on your pet at all times (to make sure he is breathing properly) and keep your veterinarians emergency number handy!
Kidney disease would in fact fall under the category of urological problems. Basically, the kidneys are the blood filters for the body. If the kidneys are not functioning properly…well, your cat is going to have some major health problems! The kidneys help to eliminate excess fluid if a cat just so happens to drink more than necessary and will also retain fluid if he or she drinks too little. They also eliminate waste materials from ingested food and medicine. Cat owners are often all too familiar with their cat's
bathroom habits as the litter box is usually the first indicator that there is a health problem. Sick cats often stop using their litter boxes…so if you think that your cat is ill…check his box! You can also tell if your cat is sick by the consistency of his or her stool.
Kidney disease is very common in older cats but it is possible at any age. A feline that is having kidney trouble will usually drink a lot of water (much more than usual!). Signs of late stage kidney problems include weight loss, vomiting, less grooming and reduced appetite. Again, keep an eye on your cat and know his habits! If you see changes in your cat's behavior…take him to the vet! Cats that have kidney disease will often be put on special, low protein diets (your veterinarian should give you dietary recommendations). One final note, the ingestion of anti-freeze can also cause kidney failure! It is very important that you keep antifreeze out of your cat's reach at all times! Anti-freeze has a sweet taste that many cats actually like (just one more reason to keep your kitty INSIDE!!).
Unfortunately, heart disease is fairly common in cats. I for one know this because my cat Norman has a very bad heart murmur (a heart murmur often sounds like a gallop…or irregular heart beat). Norman was a stray cat for years before he found his way to my home…Lord only knows how he developed his murmur. Most heart murmurs develop over time and steadily become worse. Other signs of heart disease include changes in weight, coughing, weakness or paralysis in one or more legs, over-all lethargy and not feeling well. Most cats with heart related problems are not diagnosed until they are older as they often appear and act normal when they are young. Unfortunately, treating a feline with heart troubles can be very expensive as many tests will be needed. The best bet is to have an experienced vet perform an electrocardiogram (ECG) on your cat, as well as an echocardiogram. Once your cat's heart problem has been properly diagnosed, your veterinarian will prescribe medication and a diet for your feline to follow.
The area of cat cardiology has come a long way and has advanced greatly over the past twenty-five years (this is good news!). Unfortunately, cats with heart related problems are always at risk of sudden death, however, if cared for and prescribed the proper medication; your cat can live a long and happy life.
Yes, it's true, our pets never live as long as we would like. It is always sad when the time comes to say "Goodbye." However, if we, as pet owners, take a pro-active, preventative approach to our pet's health we can ensure that they will spend many years with us. Though it may appear that cats do not suffer from as many health problems as dogs do, unfortunately, there are many illnesses and diseases out there that do in fact affect our furry friends. If you think your cat is suffering from an illness or observe any changes in habits or behaviors…DO NOT HESITATE….take your pet to the vet as soon as possible. The sooner you know the health problem you are dealing with…the better! Good luck and here's to healthy and happy felines!
If you have a new kitten, be sure to visit the Kitten Care Guide! Meow!