We’ve been talking to you about adopting a new feline friend. So, now that you have your new furry feline friend home and settled in, you need to know some of the things that might show you they are getting sick. The quicker you can recognize that they aren’t feeling good, the quicker you can start to get them help. If you are lucky, you’ll never have to deal with common cat illnesses, but better safe than sorry.
As I’m sure you’ve noticed, your cat has teeth – they’re also teeth adapted to tearing and shearing meat, not chewing. A lot of commercial cat foods have a high carbohydrate component, which can lead to plaque buildup on their teeth from food particles. This causes feline gingivitis, which can lead to bad breath and difficulty eating due to separation of the gums.
If it gets that far, it will require professional cleaning and daily brushing. Use a high quality, dentally approved cat food to help avoid having this happen.
Urinary Tract Diseases
These can also be caused by diet (dry cat food), although dehydration, cystitis and bacterial infections are also causes. They develop in the urethra or bladder with symptoms of painful urination and blood in the urine.
If your cat meows in pain when urinating or seems to strain, there is probably a urinary tract problem. Your vet will usually treat with a change in diet and medication. Limiting stress and proper nutrition will usually prevent urinary tract diseases.
Upper Respiratory Infections (URI)
One of the most common cat illnesses is URI. Some URIs like feline herpes and calicivirus are very contagious and if you bring your cat home from a kennel or shelter, it can easily spread to other cats. It is easily passed through food and water bowls, during grooming or by sneezing.
Look for coughing, congestion, fever, sneezing, runny nose, nasal discharge, and rapid breathing. URIs are easily cleared up by antibiotics. You can help your cat avoid getting them by keeping it indoors, away from infected animals, minimizing stress and keeping shots up to date.
It’s possible for even indoor cats to get parasites. The most common one is roundworm, which is picked up from eating infected birds, rodents, insects or soil. Symptoms include spaghetti shaped pieces in cat feces or vomit, distended belly, loss of appetite or a dull coat. Don’t ignore signs as this can be a potentially fatal problem.
Also be on the lookout for tapeworm. Loss of appetite, mild diarrhea, and weight loss could indicate tapeworm. This is treated with a dewormer, flea control, keeping things clean, and by keeping your cat indoors, if you aren’t already.
Feline Renal or Kidney Failure
Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) develops slowly over time and your cat probably won’t show any symptoms during early stages. Once symptoms do show, it is usually too late, sadly. Symptoms include excessive thirst, frequent urination, bad breath, weight loss, and dehydration. Once a cat enters chronic renal failure, there is nothing to be done but to keep it as comfortable as possible. A change of diet and IV fluids along with medications can help.
There is also Acute Renal Failure, which usually is a result of antifreeze or an illness affecting the kidneys. Symptoms of this include vomiting, lack of coordination, bad breath, loss of appetite, seizures, and straining to urinate. If you see these, get your cat to a vet immediately so they can start to get the toxins out of the cat’s system. Depending on the severity of damage, it is possible for your cat to make a full recovery.
These are a few of the more common illnesses to watch for in a cat, but basically, if your cat shows any change in behavior it is best to seek medical attention.