As every cat parent knows, cats are private creatures, especially when they are sick. Cats have a tendency to hide their symptoms, making it difficult for cat parents to notice that their furball is seriously sick until it is too late. There are, however, a few noticeable signs that a cat is not feeling well such as a loss of interest in food, sleeping longer hours than usual, vomiting, diarrhea, and dehydrated fur.
Cats can get sick for any number of reasons and it is best to have them examined by a licensed veterinarian.
Here are the most common cat diseases and how to spot them early:
According to pethealthnetwork.com, chronic kidney disease (CKD) is one of the top five silent cat killers. If your cat has CKD, it means that 75% of both of its kidneys are not functioning anymore. Cats who have CKD will often display these symptoms:
· Urinating more often than usual
· Weight loss
To prevent your cats from getting kidney disease, provide them with a moisture-rich diet, and always make sure that a bowl of clean water is within reach. Additionally, regular visits to the vet can help prevent your cat from getting CKD. The good news is cats with CKD can live for years provided there is proper management in place. A licensed veterinarian can recommend a suitable health management plan for the cat.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
This virus is sometimes referred to as cat AIDS because it works by damaging an infected cat’s immune system. When the cat’s immune has been compromised, the cat is susceptible to infections. FIV can only infect cats.
A cat who has FIV will show these symptoms:
· Loss of appetite
· Recurring fever
· Persistent diarrhea
· Weight loss
· Eye problems
According to thesprucepets.com, “You can help prevent infection with FIV by avoiding the things that put your cat at risk of infection. Have your cat spayed or neutered to prevent the spread of FIV)], keep your cat indoors. Test any new cats for FIV before you bring them into your household and allow them to interact with the cats already there.”
Diabetes Mellitus (DM) is another silent cat killer. Cats who are overweight, and middle-aged to senior cats have a greater risk for DM.
Cats who have DMs will manifest these symptoms:
· Frequent urination
· Urge to drink water more often than usual
· Weight loss
· Increased appetite
While some cats are genetically predisposed to develop diabetes despite excellent care, there are steps that pet parents can do to reduce their cat’s risk of contracting the disease such as providing your cat with a high-protein, low-carb diet, refraining from over-indulging them with extra treats, controlling their calorie intake by giving them small-size meals, and allowing them to play and explore so they will have plenty of physical activity. Diabetes Mellitus is usually not a life sentence for your cat. If properly managed with Insulin injections, exercise, and a proper diet, your cat can still have a good quality of life.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD)
The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) describes FLUTD as “A variety of conditions that affect the bladder and urethra of cats. Cats with FLUTD most often show signs of difficulty and pain when urinating, increased frequency of urination, and blood in the urine.”
FLUTD can strike at any age but it is usually common in middle-aged and overweight cats. Cats who have little physical activity or eat most dry diets are at risk. Urinary stones, urinary infection, and urethral obstruction are the common cause of FLUTD.
Cats who have FLUTD will show these symptoms:
· Difficulty urinating
· Frequent licking of the genital area
· Urinating outside the litter box
· Blood in the urine
It is possible to prevent FLUTD, provided that certain precautions are carried out. Water intake is very important so make sure that your cat has access to clean drinking water 24/7. Make sure that your cat’s litterbox is clean, and make it a point to check for blood-colored urine. Providing a balanced diet for your cat is also another way to prevent your cat from getting FLUTD. Your veterinarian can advise you on the ideal diet for your cat.
The Most Common Cause of Sudden Death in Cats
bestfriedsvet.com reported that the most common cause of sudden deaths in cats are Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline Immunodefficiency Virus (FIV), and Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP).
The website says, “About 10% of cats in this country (United States) are infected with one or more of these viruses. Once your cat becomes ill with any of these diseases, he or she will eventually die. There are no effective treatments or cures. What will save cats’ lives is preventing the spread of these infections through blood testing and vaccination.”
While there is no cure for these deadly diseases, there are preventive measures that can be put in place to prevent them from spreading.
These preventive measures include:
· Have your cats vaccinated.
· Keep your cats indoors.
· Have your cat spayed or neutered.
· Never allow new cats to interact with your cats until they are vaccinated.
· Wash your hands after handling unfamiliar cats outside your house.
Some people believe that cats have nine lives. If only it were true. Cats have only one life just like the rest of us and it is up to us, their human guardians, to keep them happy, healthy, and strong.
About the author: Rowena David is faculty member at College of Computer Science in the University of Makati, is a freelance writer (Tagalog short novels), admin of Philippine Pet Lovers Society Facebook page, an animal rescuer and animal welfare advocate.