The 10 Most Common Cat Health Problems

Cats are different than other pets in many ways. Cats are obsessively tidy, are prone to stress and anxiety, and often, are too headstrong to be trained. For these reasons, cat health problems can usually be traced back to the cat's natural instinct to dictate its own comings or goings, leading to parasites or diseases introduced from the outdoors, wounds from darting through sharp brush or fences, or their fastidious cleaning rituals.

The 10 Most Common Cat Health Problems

Flu

Cat flu presents much like human flu: sneezing, runny noses, and loss of appetite. Like in humans, the flu must simply run its course: there are no medications that will help ease your pet's discomfort. Keep your kitty well-hydrated and fed by providing an appetizing and irresistible meal like a canned tuna or chicken smoothie (just add water, no fruit or milk). Cat flu normally lasts from 7-14 days, however, even after they have recovered, they can shed the virus at times of stress.

Hairballs

Hairballs are a natural result of your kitty cleaning his or her coat, but some cats tend to overdo it and clean far too often, resulting in excessive hairballs.  This affects long hair breeds as they tend to swallow a lot of fur. If your cat is a clean freak, help out with a daily brushing. There are also cat foods such as OPTIMUM Furball which has been specifically formulated with beet pulp fibre which aids in the passage of furballs through the digestive tract, minimising the amount of shedding, reducing the number of hairballs you have to deal with. If your cat is cleaning a part of his body until there is no hair left, this indicates an issue with anxiety and should be treated holistically by removing stressors from the cat's environment.

Diarrhoea

If your cat has diarrhoea, one of the first questions a veterinarian will ask is how long and how often this happens. That is because acute diarrhoea, even lasting for several days, is perfectly normal and can happen as a response to a change in diet, environment, on increased stress. Chronic diarrhoea, which lasts for several weeks, can be indicative of a more serious problem. If your cat is young, with no history of illnesses, the best course is to wait it out while observing the cat's environment for potential elements that may be causing your cat stress. Common stressors are normally environmental such as new family members, human or animal, moving to a new house, a change in daily routine, loud parties and noises, and the view through the window. In order to deal with this, there are several options; either change the situation causing the stress, change the response of the cat, or do both. Changing the situation is appropriate if the cat is only getting stressed in specific situations. If stress is constant, then it'd be best to talk to your local veterinarian about possible medication to help relieve the stress. However, if you notice that your cat's bowel movements accompanied by straining, vomiting, or blood should be referred to a veterinarian immediately.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are a common cat health issue that can have severe repercussions if ignored, including partial or total hearing loss. Ear mites can be easily identified by a unique pattern of dried blood, which may resemble coffee grounds, inside your kitty's ear. The blood forms in this pattern only when your kitty is under attack by mites, not wounds or other diseases, due to the way mites feed in large numbers on small capillaries. It is not recommended to treat them at home because they can cause long-term damage and migrate to other animals or people. It's best to call a veterinarian for a prescription if you suspect your cat has ear mites.

Eye Infections

A common cat health problem that can lead to serious consequences, including blindness, eye infections can be the result of an underlying infection, fungus, eye injury, or leukaemia. Eye infections typically present as excess fluid around the eyes, redness, inflammation, or sensitivity to pressure. They are can be caused by viruses, bacteria, and fungi. The most common eye infection in cats is caused by the Feline herpesvirus-1 which causes feline conjunctivitis. If the symptoms of an eye infection are present, it is important to consult your veterinarian immediately as eye issues can progress very rapidly.  Corticosteroids and antibiotics are typically prescribed to reduce inflammation and treat these infections.

Fleas

Fleas are a commonly misunderstood cat health problem. If you find a flea on your cat, there's no reason to panic and fumigate your whole house. Most cats carry a specific species of flea,Ctenocephalides felis, and fortunately, this flea will not live on humans. Cats also ingest any fleas that are on their coat when they clean themselves. Serious flea infestations could disturb individuals with sensitive skin, typically with redness and itching around the ankles. Fleas are best treated by prevention and monitored unless they become a serious problem, causing sickness or patchy fur. The some signs that your cat has fleas include intense and frantic biting of the coat, excessive grooming, red skin lesions or scablike bumps, and red spots in your cat's bedding fabric. Flea treatments vary in price and effectiveness. These treatments include flea collars, shampoos, flea combs, spays, tablets, powders, insect growth regulators, and topical treatments.

Tapeworms

While they may sound ferocious, tapeworms are a relatively normal part of a cat's life.  Kittens can contract tapeworms from fleas, which are highly impossible to eliminate altogether. Fortunately, tapeworms aren't dangerous. Typically, your cat will begin to lose weight and have mild diarrhoea. Particularly severe infestations could cause your cat's coat to become patchy and rough. You can check your cat for tapeworm by observing his or her stool: they will look like tiny rice grains. Tapeworms are easily treated with an oral medication from your veterinarian.

Urinary Tract Diseases

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) has several possible causes, some more serious than others. All FLUTD diseases are described by the way they present: difficulty or pain while urinating, excessive licking of the genitals, and increased frequency of urination. Early symptoms can be hard to catch early on, however, if you see your car cry or howl in obvious pain  whilst urinating,  or idf you see a tinge of red or pink in the urine, take your cat to the vet as soon as possible. These signs can be indicative of anything from urinary stones to cancer, and your veterinarian should make a proper diagnosis.

Vomiting

Vomiting in cats can be caused by minor annoyances, like hairballs, or by serious problems in the cat's digestive system. All cats vomit from time to time, and some even vomit as often as weekly, even if nothing is wrong with them. In middle-aged or overweight cats, vomiting could be more worrisome. In young, healthy cats, it's often a sign of eating too fast or anxiety. We recommend brushing all cats regularly as this can significantly reduce vomiting. However, if vomiting is accompanied by other symptoms such as not being able to keep any meals down, blood in vomit, weakness/lethargy, a change in appetite, drinking or toilet patterns, it'd be best to contact your vet as soon as possible.

Wounds or Injuries

Cats, like any other animal, will get wounds from time to time. In many cases, a cat's wounds will heal on their own. If your cat appears with a fresh wound, apply first aid treatment by applying direct pressure to the wound until it stops bleeding, then applying a gauze or bandage with tape to the wound. Once the wound has stopped bleeding, apply a solution made specifically for cats that you can purchase at a pet store, never hydrogen peroxide or alcohol. If the laceration is long or deep, stop the bleeding and immediately seek help from a veterinarian instead.

 

DR. CHRIS BROWN

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