During October and November we are focusing on your cat’s health. Many cats spend their Summer days outside having fun but as the cooler days return we find that owners begin to notice some signs of common illnesses that tend to pop up in the Fall and Winter. This is partially because cats are spending more time inside which allows you to notice signs of illness but also because there are some seasonal diseases that become more common this time of year.
The first step is knowledge so we will be sharing with you some information about some common feline illnesses to watch out for. The second step is to take action which is a two-part process:
- Call us if you see signs of sickness so we can help you determine if your kitty needs to be seen.
- Schedule time to have preventative wellness exams and vaccines done.
Annual Exams for Cats and Why They Are Important
We have so many clients with both cats and dogs but we find that we are always seeing their dogs but rarely their cats! The main reason for this is because many cats seem so self-sufficient and independent and therefore we don’t notice when something is wrong until things get really bad. Cats are really good at hiding their illness which is why it is even more important to have them come in for their annual checkup with the vet. The other reason that annual visits are important, mostly for cats that go outdoors, is that they are much more highly exposed to dangers while outside such as run in’s with wildlife, other cats, fleas, parasitic infections and toxins.
When the days get colder and shorter cats tend to be less active and drink less water which makes problems like bladder infections, crystals in the urine and complete urinary blockages more common. Signs of these problems can be:
- Blood in the urine
- Straining and frequent trips to the litter box
- Peeing in strange or inappropriate places
- Licking in the area of their urethra
Some male cats have a tendency to get “blocked” which is a true life threatening EMERGENCY. Many people mistake the signs of being blocked for constipation so please call us if right away if you notice your male cat straining or crying in the litter box or if he’s unable to pass a good flow of urine.
Ways to help prevent urinary tract problems are:
- Keep your litter boxes very clean to encourage regular urination
- Place extra bowls of water around the house to encourage good hydration
- Consider purchasing a “kitty drinking fountain” which uses running water to entice cats to drink more
- Feed a high quality diet
- Set aside at least 5 minutes per day for exercise, play and attention which encourages a healthy mental state and decreases stress
- Consider a bed warmer for older or arthritic cats to encourage mobility. Cats that are in pain may hold their urine longer because it hurts to move around
The most common thyroid condition is cats is hyperthyroidism which means their thyroid gland is producing too much hormone. As cats get older this becomes a common diagnosis Common signs of hyperthyroidism are:
- Eating more than normal – they are always hungry
- Weight loss despite the fact that they are eating more
- Yowling and vocalizing more – especially at night
- Increased heart rate
To diagnose this condition we need to do some bloodwork and if we detect an over active thyroid your cat would need to be placed on a daily medication. While this condition cannot be cured it can be well-managed with medication. Fortunately, the medication comes in many forms – such as pills, liquids and even a topical gel that gets applied to the ear flap – so daily medication is not too much of a hassle.