Cats can be very independent and are remarkably good at self-maintenance, so it is often hard to spot when they are unwell. There are, however, some common health issues which cats are prone to, therefore it’s important to be aware of what to look out for and how to treat them so you can be quick to help your furry friend.
This is one of the easier problems to spot. It can be a common problem with cats, and potential causes include:
- eating unsuitable foods (including cow’s milk) or inedible objects which they are unable to digest
- urinary tract disease
- inflammatory bowel disease
If your cat suffers from a spell of vomiting they can quickly become dehydrated as a result, so if vomiting is persistent and they do not appear to be improving after a short time you should seek prompt advice from your vet.
2. Urinary Tract Disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is a condition which can affect both female and male cats, and it often occurs in cats that are overweight, unfit or who eat a high proportion of dry food. FLUTD symptoms include bloody urine, urinating in unusual places, meowing in pain when urinating, licking around the urinary area, lack of appetite and vomiting. If you suspect your cat is suffering from any of these related symptoms you should contact your vet as soon as possible; your vet will be able to sample and analyse your cat’s urine and provide advice and prescribe medication to treat the disease. Ensuring your cat is well nourished by providing a healthy moist diet appealing water supplies, an active lifestyle, a clean litter box and a stress free environment can help to prevent FLUTD.
3. Skin Conditions
Skin conditions are easily recognised feline health problems and are the cause of most visits to the vet for cats and their owners. Most common causes of feline skin conditions are fleas, allergies, fungal or bacterial infections, FLUTD and injury. Hair loss and itching are the most obvious signs of a skin condition, so take care to observe whether your cat is scratching or biting themselves more than usual. If you think this is the case, try and identify the cause of the irritation and contact your vet for advice and treatment. Regular grooming and looking after your cat’s fur will help you to discover any skin problems they may be suffering from and it’s best to catch them in the early stages so they are more easily treatable.
One of the more difficult feline complaints to spot are tapeworms, a parasite which live and grow inside your cat’s small intestine. There are few outward symptoms but one to look out for are small white segments around their rear, in their litter tray and faeces (which look similar to rice), consistent licking and biting of their anal area, and, occasionally, vomiting and any visible weight loss as tapeworm can take a cat’s vital nutrients. Your vet will provide a suitable deworming treatment for tapeworm which can be in the form of tablets, topical solution or an injection. Careful flea control is vital for preventing tapeworm in your cat, including in your environment, as flea problems can cause re-infection of tapeworm.
5. Upper Respiratory Infection
A feline URI is caused by a virus or bacteria and is similar to a cold that we might suffer (think of it as cat flu), and just as we catch a cold it is contagious amongst cats. This means it is not common for owners of single cats which spend much of their time indoors. For cats that do go outside, however, there is a good chance they will come into contact with other cats so it’s a problem to watch out for. It is also a common problem in cat shelters and catteries where the viruses can be easily passed between cats. Prevention is better than cure and all cats should be vaccinated against URI’s.
The symptoms of a URI are much like what we would experience – coughing, sneezing, fever, eye discharge and an unhealthy sounding meow. In addition to these symptoms if you notice your cat has a loss of appetite or is not drinking properly then it’s best to get them checked by your vet to be prevent or control any secondary bacterial infections. Ensuring your cat has regular vet examinations, minimal contact with other cats, up to date vaccinations and a stress free environment and lifestyle can help to maintain a healthy immune system.