The Top 10 Most Common Health Problems For Cats
Most people would consider owning a cat a pretty low maintenance endeavor. That’s because cats are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to most things, but like all pets, they too are susceptible to certain health issues.
And if you own a cat or are considering adopting one, there are some health problems that are more common than others.
Here are 10 of the most common health problems for cats:
1) Lower Urinary Tract Disease
The condition known as FLUTD or Feline lower urinary tract disease consists of several different conditions that can affect your cat’s urethra and bladder. When cats are suffering from this condition, it can be very painful and there are a variety of ways it can present itself. If you notice any of these signs, you’ll want to get your cat to the vet immediately because this condition may become life-threatening.
Here are the common symptoms:
- Not using the litter box or going in unusual places.
- Straining without producing urine – this could be serious if it means the urethra is blocked.
- Excessive and unrelenting licking of the genital area
- Blood in the urine.
Here are the most common treatments:
The first step is to clearly identify the problem, for example, it could be bladder stones, an infection, a urinary tract blockage or even some type of cancer.
Here are some potential treatments:
- Pain medication to bring relief while your cat heals
- Removing or pushing the blockage back into the bladder.
- Changing their diet
- Encouraging them to drink more water by positioning bowls throughout your home.
2) Infectious Diseases
For most cats, the most common infectious disease involves the respiratory system the second most common is feline panleukopenia.
Here are the typical symptoms of upper respiratory infections:
- A continuous runny nose.
- Drippy or teary eyes.
- Frequent Sneezing.
- A persistent cough.
- Ongoing Fever.
- Visible sores in the mouth.
There really are no viable treatments for upper respiratory infections, however, if you notice any of the above signs and symptoms a visit to the vet is warranted.
In the case of, feline panleukopenia, the first thing to understand is that it is a highly contagious viral illness. The best treatment is prevention and it is highly recommended that you get your cat, especially kittens, vaccinated early on
Here are the common symptoms:
- Ongoing Fever.
- Bloody diarrhea.
- Loss of appetite or poor eating habits.
- Lethargy or sleeping more than usual
Unfortunately, at the present time, there are no known medical treatments effective against the virus. The best course of action is to isolate your cat, so it doesn’t infect others while monitoring their health. Also, make sure they are properly hydrated and fed while they recover.
Just like humans, cats are susceptible to a wide variety of cancers. In cats, the two most common are lymphosarcoma and feline leukemia virus. Lymphosarcoma affects the lymph system in the intestines or the chest. Cats are also susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma.
- Lumps, or bumps in the lymph nodes or other areas of the body
- Swelling and edema
- Sores or skin infections that recur or never fully heal
- Lethargy and/or sleeping more than usual.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sudden lameness or inability to move around
- Difficulty breathing
Just like in humans, cancer treatments for cats can vary and the potential options can change based on the type of cancer they have and how advanced it is. There are vets that specialize in this area and new treatments are coming out all the time, so an expert opinion is recommended. But here are a few of the most common treatment options.
- Traditional Chemotherapy.
- Surgery (if the cancer is in an operable area)
- Radiation Treatment
Heartworm is less common in cats and many cats don’t often show outward signs or symptoms. When cats are symptomatic, they will experience bouts of coughing, respiratory problems, and vomiting. Unfortunately, if your cat gets heartworm there are no safe or effective treatments, however, some cats can recover. Prevention is always the best way to go, but if your cat develops heartworm your vet may offer two potential treatment options.
- Medication to reduce the inflammatory response.
- Surgery to remove the heartworms – a very risky procedure for your pet to endure.
Fleas can be a big problem for pets and while they aren’t necessarily a health problem in and of themselves they can create a variety of health issues.
Here are the common signs.
- Persistent scratching.
- Patches of hair loss.
- Flea eggs in your pet’s hair
- Flea excretions, otherwise known as flea dirt.
- Insecticides to treat the home and general areas
- Use flea-control products designed for cats only
6) Kidney Disease
Kidney problems are very common in cats and can quickly lead to fatal health problems. Cats develop kidney problems for a variety of reason, here are a few of them.
- High blood pressure can damage the kidneys
- Exposure to toxins, these can be environmental or something around the house
- Persistent Infections
- Kidney stones
- Various Types of Cancer
While some cats don’t show outward signs of kidney disease when symptoms are present here are the most common:
- A general decrease in appetite
- Unexplained and often rapid weight loss.
- Lethargy and/or sleeping more than usual
In severe cases of kidney disease there are two options:
- Kidney transplant
7) Dental Disease
Issues with your cat’s teeth and gums can be lead to a variety of other health issues as it affects their ability to eat. In addition to trouble with the food here are some other signs and symptoms of dental disease.
- Bad breath – could be from other digestive issues as well as gum problems.
- Changes in the way your cat chews
- Discolored, red, or swollen gums.
- Ulcers along the gumline or on the tongue.
- Loose or missing teeth.
- Excessive drooling.
- Constant pawing of their mouth.
A vet will be better able to assess the problem. However, prevention is always the best way to deal with dental problems.
- Brush your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush at least monthly if not weekly.
- Use a toothpaste designed for cats
- Give your cat a chew toy or something that will exercise their teeth and gums
- Remove tartar before it hardens with regular cleaning.
While cats are known to have nine lives, they are still susceptible to injuries when falling or jumping from high places. The sooner a fracture is identified and treated the easier it will be to heal. Even with something as seemingly obvious as a fracture, some cats can still hide it.
Here are some sign that your cat may have suffered a fracture.
- Obvious limping or a change in the way they walk
- Not moving at all
- Avoiding high places or not jumping at all
9) Vomiting and Diarrhea
Cats can be very sensitive to food changes or anything they ingest. That’s why vomiting, and diarrhea can be so common. If you do notice persistent diarrhea or vomiting here are some of the possible causes.
- Eating a plant with rough edges that can irritate the stomach.
- Eating too quickly.
- Eating expired food or food that has gone bad
An occasional bought of vomiting or diarrhea in cats is nothing to be too concerned about, but if it becomes persistent it can lead to other health problems.
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 1 day.
- Diarrhea with vomiting, this can quickly lead to dehydration
If the diarrhea is black or bloody in nature, it could also be a sign of internal bleeding of the stomach or intestines. This is serious and should be evaluated by a vet immediately.
- Hydrating your cat, both vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration
- Not feeding your cat for 12 to 24 hours can give their digestive system a rest.
- Changing their diet to a bland diet such as boiled potatoes, cooked rice, and boneless chicken.
- Anti-vomiting medications.
Obesity can be a real problem for cats, especially indoor cats. It can also be a huge risk factor for a variety of health problems including joint problems, diabetes, kidney and liver problems.
Keeping a close eye on your cat’s weight will go a long way in preventing any potential problems. If you your cat is overweight here are a few potential solutions.
- Spaying or Neutering your cat can decrease their appetite
- Increase their activities, even playing with them for 10-15 minutes a few times each day can help.
- Cut their overall calories and don’t leave food out.
And while there are a variety of other health issues cats can develop, these 10 are some of the most common you’ll see. The more familiar you are with them the easier it will be to identify them and treat them effectively.