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Your lovely cat may appear to be independent most of the time but he needs your special pet parent’s care to prevent him from some common cat health problems.
On the basic level, every kitty parent should take his lovely feline for regular checkups with his vet. Have him get the prescribed shots that prevent him from contracting common communicable diseases.
On top of that, you now need to advance and get to know the common health problems that may trouble your cat.
Knowledge of these conditions will help in practicing prevention measures that will ensure your furry friend is healthy.
In case of any illnesses, you will be in a good position to identify the early signs and symptoms for appropriate actions.
The common cat health issues can range from the ones that affect all cats to the ones specific to age and breed.
If you particularly have an elderly cat, you need to be more watchful because they are delicate when it comes to health matters.
In this post, we have looked at the 5 common cat health problems that should catch your attention immediately.
Failure to familiarize yourself with these health conditions might subject your cat to severe conditions and lengthy treatment processes.
General Signs That Your Cat is Sick
Cats are lovely and very interactive with other pets and family members. Sometimes it can be very difficult to tell if your furry friend is feeling unwell because they can tend to hide discomfort.
As a cat parent, you need to be very quick in knowing the earliest signs that your kitty shows for discomfort because it might be a serious issue.
The following are some of the signs that your cat will show when he is not feeling very well:
1. An abrupt change in mood
If you notice your cat’s mood has suddenly switched from cheerful to sad, then it might be a good indicator that something is not right.
It is best not to assume the mood your cat displays when interacting with you.
2. Lethargy and fatigue
Cats are usually playful when in good health. A good sign that your cat might be suffering from an illness is if he shows a reduced tendency to play or lethargy. Such a cat will always appear tired most of the time and will often sleep more than usual.
Most people categorize fatigue as an older cat health problems symptom but a cat of any age can show this symptom.
3. Under grooming or overgrooming
Cats are clean pets and they always like to groom themselves every so often to get rid of dirt particles and smoothen their coats. If your cat is not feeling well, then grooming might not be an option for him at the moment.
He may also over groom himself as a sign of medical problems, stress, or anxiety, among others. Watch out for the consistency of your cat’s grooming habits in order to detect anything wrong.
4. Change of appetite
If you notice your cat is not eating and drinking, he may be experiencing discomfort caused by illnesses.
For example, a cat with stomach-related complications will eat a very small portion of what he is used to.
5. Vomiting and diarrhea
Apart from the changes in appetite, an ailing cat will often vomit portions of undigested food as a sign of illness. He may also show signs of diarrhea with watery stool as a sign of possible gut infection.
Some diseases manifest their effects on the skin of your cat in the form of wounds and swellings. Such conditions can easily be disguised as external but it is important to look keenly at the cause of your kitty’s wounds and get the appropriate treatment for him.
7. Excessive meowing
Cats use meowing as a way of communicating with us. If he is sick, then it is possible that he is feeling some pain that needs to be alleviated.
One of the quickest ways your cat will use to seek attention is by meowing constantly towards you.
For more information on this topic, make sure you check my detailed article on how to tell if your cat is sick, I’m sure you will find it very useful.
5 Common Cat Health Problems
1. Thyroid Problems
Thyroid problems in cats, also known as hyperthyroidism or thyrotoxicosis are the overactivity of the cat’s thyroid glands. It is caused by the increased production of thyroid hormones from the cat’s thyroid glands.
It is a common health issue to middle-aged and senior cats due to the continual and excess circulation of the thyroid hormone ‘thyroxine’.
Hyperthyroidism which results in the enlargement of the thyroid glands in cats can be caused by adenoma which is a non-cancerous tumor and in some cases thyroid adenocarcinomas tumors.
Various factors contribute to this ailment in cats. Some that have been identified include the lack of excesses of certain compounds in your cat’s diet.
Continuous exposure to thyroid disrupting chemicals in both the environment and food is also identified as a causative factor.
When your cat suffers from thyroid-related diseases, it is very possible that he may suffer secondary illnesses. This is because the thyroid hormone has an impact on nearly all body organs of the cat.
With this in mind, it is therefore very important that as a cat parent, you check for the earliest symptoms of this disease for a timely cure and future prevention.
Cats suffering from hyperthyroidism will display several signs and symptoms including increased appetite, loss of weight, continual thirst, and increased frequency of urination.
Other signs of hyperthyroidism in cats to look for include hyperactivity, vomiting, and diarrhea. Cats with this disease also appear to have dull and ungroomed coats.
Diagnosis of Hyperthyroidism in Cats
Thyroid problems in cats can be identified physically by examining the neck area of the ailing kitty for enlarged thyroid glands.
After the physical examination, the vet may suspect that your cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism and more tests will be needed to make a confirmation. The common test procedures used to diagnose hyperthyroidism in cats include;
- Urine test
- Blood test for measuring the levels of thyroid hormone
- Heart ultrasound tests
Thyroid problems in cats can sometimes predispose your kitty to other secondary diseases such as heart diseases and hypertension.
If your cat is suffering from hyperthyroidism, your vet will most likely check for secondary diseases as a way of evaluating your kitty’s overall health.
Treatment of Hyperthyroidism
Once you suspect that your cat is suffering from this sickness, it is best to seek immediate medical attention.
Hyperthyroidism in cats is always treated with a choice of three procedures which are; surgery, medication, dietary healing, or radioactive iodine healing.
When in consultations with your vet, he will assess your cat and determine the best treatment option to prescribe to your ill feline.
Each therapy procedure has its advantages and disadvantages and they all rely on specific conditions that your cat may be subjected to.
How To Prevent Thyroid Problems in Cats
Even though the cause of feline hyperthyroidism has not been certainly approved, there are several factors that have been associated with the disease.
If we can know how to deal with these factors, then preventing this disease in cats will be a simple task.
To prevent your lovely cat from suffering from hyperactive thyroid glands, we recommend that you do the following:
- Provide your cat with a balanced diet every day. You can avoid cat foods sourced from soy protein, those with fish and giblet flavor.
- Use ceramic or metal food bowls when giving your cat his meals. Avoid plastic containers and cling films.
- Ensure your cat’s food has the recommended iodine concentration which is 0.5 – 2 ppm.
- Provide clean and mineralized drinking water for your cat.
- Consider wiping your cat’s coat every day with a damp material and bathing him every month.
2. Eye Problems
Cat’s eyes are always lovely to look at and they differ from one breed to another. Feline eye conditions range from eye pupil issues, discharges, and eyelid problems.
It is much easier for a cat parent to identify if his lovely cat is suffering from any eye conditions quicker than other cats’ health problems.
This is because the status of your cat’s eyes can readily be seen every time he stares at you when walking and playing around.
Eye problems in cats can affect cats of all ages and if not taken care of early enough, they may lead to loss of vision which is a detrimental effect.
The common signs of nearly all eye problems in cats include constant winking and rubbing of the eyes.
Here are some of the common feline eye conditions that you need to watch out for in your cat;
i. Cat Conjunctivitis (Pink Eye Problem)
Conjunctivitis in cats is the inflammation of the thin membrane (conjunctiva) that lines between the inner side of the eyelid and the outer part of the eyeball.
The conjunctiva is critical in protecting your cat’s eyes against bacteria, germs, and other harmful substances.
This is the most common eye disorder in cats and it is estimated that many cats will experience the mild effect of this disease at some point in their life. Feline conjunctivitis is an eye problem that is highly contagious but it can only be passed within cats.
Conjunctivitis results from an upper respiratory problem that is caused by a viral or bacterial infection among other causes.
In some cases, the conjunctiva of your cat might become swollen and lead to irritation and inflammation.
There are several signs that can tell a cat parent if his beloved kitty is suffering from the pink eye problem. The most common symptom is a clear, gray, green, yellow, rusty red, or dark eye discharge.
Your cat’s inner part of the eye may appear to be swollen and/or with a red color tone. A cat suffering from this eye disorder will close his eyes more than usual when awake to curb some pain.
These signs may be visible in either one or both eyes. It shows that conjunctivitis may affect a single or both eyes.
If the conjunctiva irritation is caused by upper respiratory health problems, then your cat may display signs of nasal discharge, and sneezing.
If you notice any of the telling signs that your cat has conjunctivitis, you need to get in touch with your vet for immediate check-up and treatment.
Diagnosis Of Cat Conjunctivitis
Early diagnosis of this eye disorder in cats involves a physical examination by your vet on your cat’s eyes. This is done to rule out any other disease and narrow it down to the visible symptoms.
Your vet will probably rely on the health history of your cat and try to identify any telling signs that may lead to the visible side effects. This will also help in identifying other medical conditions that may be persistent for your cat.
After physical examination, your vet will then rely on further diagnostic tests to ascertain your cat’s health problem. Such tests might include:
- Applying dye on your kitty’s eyeballs to examine possible cornea disorders.
- Performing blood tests.
- Doing biopsy tests.
Treatment of Cat Conjunctivitis.
Treating conjunctivitis in cats can vary depending on what caused it in the first place. This feline eye disorder is typically treated by the application of antibiotic ointments and drops for bacterial infections and to soothe inflammation.
Antiviral and antibacterial medication may also be prescribed to deal with any underlying medical condition that causes this medical effect.
Surgery procedures can also be prescribed to your cat for the removal of anything that might be stuck therein.
If this condition has been caused by other diseases such as respiratory problems, your vet will treat those as well to remove all possible effects.
Detrimental Effects of Untreated Conjunctivitis
If this cat-eye disorder is left unattended, then it may progress and cause serious damage to your cat’s eyes including loss of vision.
It is important that you speak to your vet as early as possible because conjunctivitis is treatable.
ii. Corneal Ulcers
Cornea is the outer clear membrane that covers the front most parts of your cats’ eyes. The cornea acts as a protective shield to the cat’s eyes against dust particles, germs, and other harmful substances.
Feline’s cornea is made up of three layers of highly specific skin cells. Abrasion and erosion of these skin cells may lead to corneal, which is an eye disorder in cats that results from deep erosion of the cornea.
Corneal ulcers can be caused by trauma, such as when the cat is bluntly rubbing his eyes against a rough surface. Another cause of this condition is laceration which happens when a sharp object like the cat’s claws comes in contact with the cornea.
Chemical burn on the cornea can also cause this type of ulcer in your cat. This can happen for example when liquids, chemicals, drywall dust, or shampoo gets into contact with your cat’s eyes.
Viral, bacterial infections and other diseases can also be causes of corneal ulcers to your cat. These conditions can be in the cat’s eye or originate from other body parts.
Corneal ulcers in cats are very painful. In an attempt to alleviate this pain, most affected cats will rub their eyes with their paws constantly and even sometimes on surfaces such as carpet.
Other signs include rapid blinking, keeping the eyelids tightly closed, and eye discharge that accumulates in the corner of the eyes and flows down his face.
Diagnosis of Corneal Ulcers
It is not possible to physically examine your cat at home for possible corneal ulcers disease. As such, your vet will use some drops of fluorescein stain which is capable of detecting corneal ulcers in cats.
When applied to the eyes of your cat, the orange drops of fluorescein stain will adhere to the ulcerated areas of the cornea and turn green.
This makes it possible to physically observe large ulceration on your cat’s eyes. Tiny ulcers may further be identified by using special ophthalmic lights and filters.
If your cat suffers from chronic ulcers, the vet may first take samples culture and cell study before applying the fluorescein stain. This will enable him to draw a further conclusion on the eye disorder of your feline friend.
Treatment of Feline Corneal Ulcers
After a successful diagnosis of the corneal ulcers disturbing your cat, the vet will recommend an appropriate treatment method to combat this ailment.
The treatment method prescribed will largely depend on the type and extent of ulceration. For abrasions, your vet will recommend antibiotic medication such as antimicrobial eyewash, which is useful in relieving and preventing pain.
Antibiotic ointment should be applied frequently because they are effective for a short while. For deep corneal ulcers, your vet will take timely steps to prevent further ulceration and promote effective healing.
Depending on the extent of injury, your vet might recommend a surgical procedure to promote normal healing.
Corneal ulcers in cats are treatable and recovery time depends on the extent of ulceration. During recovery, it is important to follow up on the healing extent with your vet. Corneal ulcers are detrimental when left unattended, they can lead to loss of your cat’s vision.
iii. Irritation (Cat Red Eyes)
Cats may be subjected to environmental irritants that may affect them causing itchiness and watery eyes. These irritants can include natural allergens such as fleas, pollen, or artificial causes like fragrance, perfume, cigar smoke, and the like.
To keep your cat safe, ensure you safeguard him against anything that can get into his eyes because it may well be a source of irritation.
The signs and symptoms of a cat with irritation in his eyes are quite visible. You need to pay attention to how he treats his eyes.
When irritants are lodged in your cat’s eyes, they cause discomfort making the cat adopt measures of removing the irritation. Here are the most common signs you need to watch out for, to detect irritation on your kitty’s eyes;
· Squinting or rubbing of the eyes.
· Watery eyes and nose.
· Redness of the eyes.
· Excessive scratching behavior
· Mild to excessive sneezing.
If you can observe the above symptoms, then it is possible that your feline friend has itchy eyes. You need to take quick measures to correct the situation before it progresses to other conditions.
How To Deal with Eye Irritation in Cats
You can use an eye washing solution to rinse your cat’s eyes to alleviate irritation. This solution will relieve your cat from itchiness by removing all foreign matter lodged in your cats’ eyes.
An antimicrobial potent solution also has the power to kill bacteria and germs, making your cat’s eye free from possible infections.
Eye irritation in cats can however be a symptom of more severe eye disorders. If you notice your cat exhibiting much pain when applying the solution, then you need to consult your vet for further checkups and examinations.
iv. Cataracts in cats
Cataracts is a medical term that means an increased opacity of the eye’s lens. What this means is that when a cat suffers from cataracts, his eye lens will become clouded hence interfering with the penetration of light to the retina. The results of cataracts are obstructed vision which depends on the severity of the disorder.
This eye problem in cats can occur in any breed, age, and gender. Some cat breeds have however been found to be genetically predisposed to develop cataracts in their lifetime. They include; Birman, Himalayan, Bengal, Persian, British Shorthair, and Russian Blue.
Cataracts in cats can be brought about by many causes including any damage on his eye’s lens. The most common cause of this condition is inflammation of the eye (uveitis) which is brought about by underlying medical conditions.
Uveitis makes the cat’s immune system recognize the eye’s lens as a foreign material that needs to be eradicated. This body response leads to the advancement of cataracts.
The other causes of cataracts in cats include the following;
· Eye’s trauma
· Diseases such as cancer, hypertension, and diabetes.
· Infections include; viral, microbial, and fungal.
· Radiation exposure.
You need to check your cat for any signs and symptoms of this disease in order to curb its advancement. The signs and symptoms of this disorder will vary depending on the severity of the infection.
If you notice your once jovial cat walking around cautiously, or hesitating to jump to his favorite chair or scratching post, then his vision might be obscured. This is especially a senior cat health problem symptom that can be attributed to blurred vision.
When physically examining your kitty in certain light types, you may notice cloudiness/haziness around his eyes when suffering this eye problem.
Cataracts in cats can however be detected very early in their development stage when undergoing routine vet examinations.
Diagnosis of cataracts in cats
When you see suspected signs of cataracts, it is important that you speak to your vet. This disorder can be detected by your vet using a special instrument known as an ophthalmoscope which helps to magnify the internal structure of your cat’s eyes.
These are the basics of an ophthalmic exam which helps to identify cataracts by displaying abnormal opacities on the surface of the instrument’s lens.
If your feline friend has been diagnosed with cataracts, then the vet will perform further tests to ascertain the cause. Frequently, this disorder has been found to be a reaction to underlying diseases.
Treatment of Cat Cataracts
The ideal and most recommended treatment for cataracts is surgery which is performed by a veterinary ophthalmologist.
The surgical procedure involves a process known as phacoemulsification which removes the affected cat’s eye lens and replaces it with an artificial one.
Surgery may not be recommended as a good immediate option for cats with inflammation in their eyes. Anti-inflammation medication should first be prescribed to such cats to alleviate the itchiness in their eyes.
3. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD) is a group of common diseases that affect the lower urinary tract of cats which include the bladder and urethra.
The common signs of these diseases include difficulty in urinating, traces of blood in urine, increased frequency in urination, and continuous licking around the genital areas.
Other noteworthy signs to observe include straining to urinate, meowing while urinating, and urinating in small portions.
Cats suffering from FLUTD may find it easier to urinate on smooth surfaces like floor tiles. They will visibly display an inconsistent pattern of using the litter box.
FLUTD can affect cats of any age bracket though it is more common in middle-aged cats. Overweight kitties who do little to no exercise are also at risk of getting infected by these diseases.
FLUTD can be caused by several conditions such as urinary stones, urethral obstruction, urinary infections with bacteria, and feline interstitial cystitis.
FLUTD may also come as an effect of existing health problems in your cat such as diabetes, hyperthyroidism, birth defects, or injuries to the urinary tract.
If you notice that your cat has any signs of FLUTD, it is best to seek medical attention immediately before the situation gets worse. If left unattended, these diseases may greatly affect your cat’s urinary tract making him unable to urinate painlessly.
How To Prevent FLUTD
You can help prevent your cat from acquiring FLUTD by observing the following measures:
· With the consultation of your vet, give your cat the best diet that will help improve his urinary tract health.
· Provide your cat with easy access to clean and fresh water. You can help encourage your cat to drink sufficient water throughout the day by stationing a water fountain within his reach.
· Always keep your cat’s litter boxes clean. If you have a manual one, ensure you scoop it daily to prevent the accumulation of bacteria in the box.
Have a look at the video below from Dr. Justine Lee where she talks briefly about FLUTD
4. Cat Fleas
Cat fleas (Ctenocephalides felis felisare) are tiny parasites that get hosted by your cat’s coat in pursuit of a comfortable place to thrive and reproduce.
They feed on the cat’s blood and so they pose a danger of causing anemia when not handled well. Fleas are also reported to transmit tapeworm infections to your cat hence predisposing him to other medical conditions. They particularly thrive in the summer and spring since they like hot weather.
The most telling signs that your lovely cat is affected by fleas include excessive licking and stretching himself. In an advanced case, your cat’s coat might have scattered fur, and his skin appears red and irritated.
Fleas might make your cat excessively groom himself as a way of relieving itchiness caused by the parasites. This will make him act restless most of the time and it is hard not to notice this sign. Excessive grooming might make your cat develop bald patches on his coat.
If you notice any sign that your cat is infested with these fast-moving parasites, you need to physically examine him to check for their presence.
It is recommended to focus your physical examination on the neck area and back of your cat because fleas tend to concentrate in these parts of your cat’s body. Pay close attention to the parts that your kitty is not likely to groom himself for possible flea build-up.
Treatment of Cat Fleas
As a cat parent, there are two approaches that you must take in order to remove fleas from your cat. The first is to get them from your cat’s body and the second is to remove them from your cat’s environment.
How To Remove Fleas from Cats
If you have physically identified the presence of fleas on your cat, the next thing to do immediately is get rid of them.
Leaving fleas on your cat’s coat is risky because these parasites tend to reproduce at a high rate. The infestation might get worse if left unattended immediately.
Get a good flea brush for cats and comb your cat’s coat to remove these parasites from his body. A good fleas brush is capable of removing fleas, flea eggs, flea poop, and other regular dirt particles from the environment.
After physically brushing the fleas from your cat’s body, you need to give your cat a bath to refresh his skin and coat.
Once done with the cleaning process, you might need to administer flea medication to your cat. Get good products that will deal with fleas at all stages of their lives from egg to adult.
The flea medication, therefore, needs to be strong and potent for at least a month. This is to deal with the eggs that might be dormant and have the possibility of hatching within weeks.
You can also get a good flea collar for your cat which works by releasing flea repellent chemicals to remove them from your cat’s body.
Removing Fleas from Your Home
When getting rid of fleas on your cat’s body, remember to also do the same for your home, especially in your kitty’s beddings, litter boxes, and scratching posts. These areas where your cat hangs out most of the time might contain eggs that can hatch hence posing a danger of reinfestation.
These areas and items in your house can be properly aired, vacuumed, and cleaned with soapy water. You should work towards preventing any future flea infestation by maintaining proper hygiene of your cat and house as well.
Vomiting is one of the most common health problems in cats and it can be attributed to stomach disorders and several underlying diseases.
Vomiting is not a specific disease, rather the act of evacuating food from the stomach.If your cat ingests something inedible like hair or strings, he will certainly vomit them out occasionally.
Feline diseases that cause vomiting include viral or bacterial infections, urinary tract obstructions, diabetes, thyroid diseases, liver diseases, inflammatory bowel, or cancer. These diseases should be diagnosed and treated immediately because they can progress to very severe levels.
Vomiting vs regurgitation
Vomiting should be differentiated from regurgitation which is a disorder affecting the gullet. Vomiting will typically involve contraction of the abdomen whereas regurgitation is a quick process that does not involve abdominal contraction.
Regurgitation will occur immediately after your cat has eaten whereas vomiting can take place sometime after eating.
When your cat vomits too much, he is losing a lot of water and might get dehydrated. Provide clean drinking water to your cat always to prevent him from staying dehydrated.
Dealing with vomiting
If you notice your cat vomiting frequently without any diagnosed disease, you need to speak to your vet immediately. Samples of the vomit might be taken for further tests to diagnose any disease or causative triggers.
When dealing with the 5 common cat health problems, it is important to have an understanding of how your cat behaves by showing the signs and symptoms.
Most cats have the habit of hiding their suffering from us and you can only know when they are ill if you truly know how your cat should behave.
Always speak to your vet as early as possible whenever you notice any sign of illness on your cat. Early intervention will always save your cat from progressing to severe stages which can be lifesaving.
Thank you for reading through this post. If you have any questions or concerns regarding the topic, please leave a comment below and I will get back to you.
Laura is the founder of Furs'n'Paws. She is a pet expert with more than 20 years of experience working with dogs and cats. She developed a very strong love for animals at a young age. Her passion led her to establish a thriving pet sitting and dog walking business in Dubai. As an expert in pet training, behavior, and nutrition, Laura is committed to helping pet owners and pet lovers by offering high-quality information on a wide range of topics.
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