Like humans, health problems are more common in cats. Sometimes, these health issues go serious and can be fatal if you’re not cautious about them. Though cats are good at self-maintenance, but as a cat owner, you need to be familiar with the signs and symptoms of common illnesses. This will help you to seek veterinary help for your feline friend and take some precautionary measures to minimize the risk when necessary. This article will give insight into five (05) most common health problems that frequently affect your cat’s general health.
1. Feline Obesity
Similar to humans, obesity is the most common preventable health problem in cats. In North America, approximately 30-35% of the feline population is obese. Among them, almost 50% of cats aged between 5 to 11 years weigh higher than their ideal weight. As a responsible pet owner, you can easily assess the condition of your cat, whether it is overweight or obese.
Cats are usually considered overweight when their weight exceeds 10-20% above their standard body weight. And when it exceeds 20% or more above than their ideal body weight, they should be considered obese. Also, you can try to feel the backbone and ribs of your cat. If you face difficulty while touching these parts, your cat may be overweight or obese. Contact your veterinarian to get the ideal body weight chart of your dog.
Risks of Obesity
Obesity can possess serious health risks to your lovely cat. Obesity shortens a cat’s life and makes him susceptible to various diseases. The study observed 2.8 times more death in obese cats (8-12 years old) compared to lean cats. Some other risks for obese cats include:
- Diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and hypertension
- Urinary bladder stones
- Complications during anesthesia due to less heat tolerance, etc.
Obese cats also develop a serious life-threatening condition named “hepatic lipidosis”. This is a devastating liver disease that leads to death.
How to Prevent Obesity
Indoor cats are more susceptible to becoming overweight or obese due to less activity. That’s why you need to monitor their diet properly and give enough room for exercise. Here we listed some effective strategies that can help your cat from developing weight problems:
- Ask your veterinarian to recommend the most appropriate food for your feline friend according to their age, breed, and body condition.
- Increase your cat’s exercise time and use interactive feeding toys that allow cats to work for their food.
- Visit the veterinarian to perform regular check-ups of your cat to avoid unnecessary health issues.
Worms are notorious internal parasites that cause harm to the kitten and older cats. Both indoor and outdoor cats are prone to a variety of intestinal parasites such as roundworm, hookworm, tapeworm, etc. Kittens and cats without regular preventive health care can develop serious complications associated with internal parasites.
The primary way to acquire these parasites is through the ingestion of the feces of other infected cats. Also, the mother can pass the worms to the kittens. Infections of intestinal parasites can produce a variety of symptoms. These include:
- Distended abdomen
- Lack of appetite
- Bloody feces
- Loss of weight
- Abdominal tenderness
- Worm visible in feces, etc.
Besides this, sometimes, your cat can show few to no outward signs of having worms. This subclinical and undetected case causes serious health complications. Among these, some parasites have zoonotic significance means they can produce diseases in humans as well. If you think your cat may have worms, take her to the veterinarian to confirm the diagnosis and further treatment.
Common Types of Worms
- Roundworms: Toxocara cati, Toxascaris leonina, Strongyloides spp, etc.
- Hookworms: Ancylostoma tubaeforme, Uncinaria stenocephala, etc.
- Tapeworms: Dipylidium caninum, Taenia taeniaeformis, etc.
- Heartworm: Dirofilaria immitis.
- Lungworm: Capillaria spp, Aelurostrongylus abstrusus, etc.
- Eyeworm: Thelazia callipaeda.
Prevention of Worms in Cat
Prevention of worms lies upon the good managemental practice of a cat owner. Besides maintaining a regular deworming schedule for your lovely cat, you can follow the below guidelines to avoid worms:
- Avoid exposure of your cat with stray/outdoor cats, rodents, fleas, and their feces.
- Keep your pet, their bedding, home, and yard flea-free.
- Maintain good hygiene during handling cat litter and their feces. Dispose of their feces in a suitable place.
- Follow a routine deworming schedule and consult with your veterinarian for any advice.
3. Feline Leukemia Virus (FelV)
This highly contagious RNA retrovirus can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. FeLV is one of the most common infectious diseases affecting almost 3% of domestic cats in the USA. Transmission of this virus occurs mainly via bodily secretions like saliva, nasal secretions, urine, feces, and blood from an infected cat to healthy ones. This deadliest virus almost kills 85% of infected cats within 3 years of disease diagnosis.
This virus weakens your cat’s immune system and predisposes cats to several deadly infections. Symptoms of having this disease may include:
- High fever
- Pale gum
- Yellowish color in the mouth
- Chronic skin disease
- Respiratory infections
- Breathing difficulty
- Loss of appetite and weight loss
- Changes in behavior
- Vision or other eye problems
- Lymph node enlargement, etc.
Prevention of FeLV
- Like other infectious diseases, the best way to prevent FeLV is to eliminate the source of exposure. Perform routine testing to detect this disease and keep away your cat from other outdoor cats.
- Always isolate the sick cat and maintain a quarantine period before entering a new cat into the house.
Caring for A Cat with Felv
- Feeding a nutritionally balanced diet will provide enough strength and support during this stressful period.
- Keep your cat isolated from the healthy ones and provide a quiet place for adequate rest.
- Continue fluid therapy to keep your cat always hydrated under the supervision of a veterinarian.
- Take your cat to the veterinarian every 6 months for a routine check-up.
4. Dental Disease
Periodontal or gum diseases are more common in cats. About 50% of cats older than four years of age suffer from dental diseases like gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. Gingivitis occurs when the gums around the teeth become inflamed and produce pain. This inflammation begins slowly with the build-up of plaque (bacterial growth) on the surface of the teeth. If not regularly removed, this plaque will turn into dental tartar, a yellow or brown mineral deposit, which is very difficult to remove. Dental tartar can cause serious infections around the teeth.
While left untreated, gingivitis turns into a more serious condition “periodontitis”, in which the attachment between the tooth and gums removed. This destruction causes tooth loss. Similar to humans, a cat’s mouth needs to be clean regularly to avoid these dental issues. Otherwise, your cat may produce some symptoms like-
- Bad odor from mouth
- Swelling and pain in the gum
- Difficulties while eating
- Loosening of the teeth
Prevention of Dental Disease
The best way to prevent dental disease in cats is to brush their teeth regularly to remove the dental plaque. Like humans, especially formulated tooth gel or pastes are available for cats. As a responsible cat owner, you can also follow these:
- Try to provide a mixture of dry and canned food to your cat. Dry food helps to clean the teeth.
- It’s essential to clean your cat’s teeth weekly to avoid further problems.
- Always consult with a veterinarian for routine check-ups of your cat.
5. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases
This includes a group of feline diseases such as urinary bladder stones, cystitis, urethral plugs, or bladder cancer. Both males and females can get these diseases but obese and unfit cats are more prone to these. Other risk factors of urinary tract illnesses are stress, dry food, multi-cat household, etc. Treatment of urinary tract diseases depends upon the variety of causes. Veterinarians reported almost 3% of cats with feline lower urinary tract disease during their first visit.
- Difficult or painful urination
- Dribbling of urine
- Frequent urination
- Straining during urination
- Inappropriate urination
- Pus and blood in the urine
- Licking around the urinary area
- Lack of appetite
- Depression and lethargy, etc.
Sudden stop of urination (anuria) is an emergency for a cat. As a cat owner, you need to bring your cat immediately to the vet. Veterinarians will observe clinical signs and perform several tests to diagnose the actual cause and treatment accordingly. Treatment of a lower urinary tract disease may range from antibiotics to surgery.
Prevention of Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Prevention of feline urinary tract disorders lies upon the management of the cat. You need to follow these:
- Maintain a perfect bodyweight of your cat
- Check if your cat takes a sufficient amount of water into its daily diet
- Always keep your cat physically active by playing or exercising
- Stress-free environment is essential for the proper mental health of your cat
Finally, as a concerned cat owner, be careful about above mentioned 5 common health illnesses of your cat. As soon as you see any of these symptoms, take your cat to the veterinarian immediately for early treatment. The Comforted Kitty offers cat care services in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Las Vegas, and the surrounding states. If you need professional pet care, contact The Comforted Kitty any time.