Cats are absolute masters when it comes to hiding sickness, illness and/or injury, so knowing what to look for is very important. The reason cats have learned to conceal any problems comes down to survival. In the wild, showing any weakness can compromise a cats ability to survive, so they have learned to hide any problems they may have.
There are many health issues that can affect a cat, from vomiting to dental disease and here we'll take a look at 5 of the more common concerns people have when it comes to their furry feline friends. Keep in mind that any subtle changes in your cat could be a sign that something is wrong, so even with a small change, it's important to consult your vet.
Even what may seem insignificant like sleeping more or spending less time with the family could be signs that your furry friend isn't feeling well. If there are any changes you notice that continue longer than a 3 or 4 days, you should definitely reach out to your vet, and they can let you know whether you should bring your cat in for an exam.
Now let’s explore some of the common concerns cat owners have!
Vomiting is probably the most common thing cat people worry and wonder about. There are a number of different reasons why a cat could be vomiting and while some are nothing to fret about, others can be serious, so it’s important to know your cat and be able to understand what might be going on. We’ve included some possibilities here, but if something seems off, the first and best thing to do is to contact a trusted veterinarian to get a diagnosis!
Hairballs are a common reason for a cat to vomit. When cats groom, hair is a byproduct that comes along with it.This is normal and necessary, as a mass such as a hairball that doesn’t come up can get into the digestive system and cause an obstruction, which could be a serious and life threatening problem, requiring a quick trip to the vet, assuming you even know it’s going on.
A good way to help alleviate the hairball situation is to regularly brush your cat.Brushing your cat once or twice a day can help remove the hair that comes off when they groom, therefore reducing the amount of hair that can build up within your cat. If your cat is bringing up a hairball once every week or two, then that is probably a pretty normal thing.Anything more than that, however, a good grooming each day might really help.
Another cause, rooted in a behavioral issue that can lead to vomiting is eating to quickly. Some
cats will scarf down their food so quickly without chewing, and then shortly after, proceed to through up everything they chowed down on. This can happen if they feel threatened by other cats in the family, or are concerned that another cat may push him out of the way and take over, leaving him with nothing to eat. Food insecurities can certainly cause a cat to eat far too quickly and vomit everything back up shortly after eating.To help combat this if you have multiple cats, feed the cats in different areas so as to separate them so that no one feels rushed.It may take some time for your insecure eater to realize that there’s no longer a threat, so give him time to acclimate.If you have a single cat and for some reason they feel insecure or just have a habit of eating quickly, try a food puzzle or slow feeder for cats to help slow his eating down. For ideas on slow feeders and food puzzles, do a quick google search to pull up different types! There are quite a few available and after looking over the ideas, you might even be able to create your own slow feeder or food puzzle using empty egg cartons, boxes or other things you have lying around!
Other reasons for vomiting in cats, according to the Cornell Feline Health Center, include the ingestion of some type of foreign object such as poisonous plants (or any unagreeable type of plant), leaves, spoiled cat food, pieces of string/yarn, human medications and some human foods (especially onions, garlic, chocolate, etc.), antifreeze, any object (even pieces of a cat toy) that might have been lying around that the cat got ahold of, along with internal parasites or other gastrointestinal problems that might be occurring.
Things like constipation, inflammatory bowel disease, the presence of benign or cancerous gastrointestinal growths, some type of metabolic disease (diabetes, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, etc.) are also causes for feline vomiting, which is why it’s very important to know your cat and be aware of changes.
URI, Upper Respiratory Infection is another common concern in cat owners. This is similar to a cold that infects the upper respiratory system, including the nose and throat and eyes. Systems like sneezing, nasal congestion and conjunctivitis which is inflammation of the membranes lining the eyelids and discharge from the nose and eyes. While a cold might not seem like a big deal to us humans, a URI can be very serious for a cat. Other symptoms that accompany a URI are fever, lethargy, enlarged lymph nodes, lack of appetite, difficulty with breathing and squinty eyes due to discharge. If your cat has URI symptoms longer than a few weeks, it's important to consult with your vet. The typical URI will last between 7 - 14 days, but can become very serious. It is a highly contagious infection so if you have multiple cats, it's highly recommended to separate the infected cat immediately so the others don't end up coming down with symptoms.
Things to be concerned about are congestion with open mouth breathing, as this can signify things getting worse, and worsening eye discharge and condition, as this can lead to a ruptured eye or worse. In kittens, URI's can be much worse and life threatening, as well as in older cats or immune compromised cats. When in doubt, always contact your trusted veterinarian.
The best course of action for mild URI cold symptoms in your cat, use a humidifier and keep your cat isolated if there are other cats in your household. Consider feeding them some wet food. Get the fishy kind as it has a much stronger smell, which is good since cats with a URI don't always have a good sense of smell due to congestion. Wet food will also help hydrate them, so it can be helpful to add some extra water when feeding them the wet food to help keep them hydrated.
Again, if you have any concerns, it's best to call your vet. Some URI do require a vet assist and can sometimes benefit and be cleared with an antibiotic. When in doubt, always talk with your vet and have your cat seen by your vet.
Dental Disease is a very common health issue in cats and it is said that 50-90% of cats over the age of 4 years old have some level of dental disease. This is unfortunate mostly because dental disease is preventable with the right information and knowledge as to how to help prevent it. The three most common types of dental disease are gingivitis, periodontitis, and tooth resorption. The road to tooth loss normally begins with gingivitis and if not treated and managed here, progresses further to the point where the tooth begins to break down and deteriorate, which is called resorption. The severity of each of these conditions can vary widely, which is why it's important to see your vet regularly to have kitty's teeth checked.
If tooth decay is not treated, the situation can become worse, even life threatening, as the tooth
infection can spread causing a toxic situation within your cat where the infection can move into the blood, becoming fatal condition for your cat. The best way to prevent the loss of tooth in cats along with any further infection is to brush your cats teeth and/or make sure you have regular teeth cleaning for your cat on your calendar each year.
We know it’s not cheap getting a dental clean done, so our suggestion would be to find out how much your vet charges and start a ‘tooth fund’ for your cat.Figure out how much you need to save
each month to have your cats teeth cleaned every year or year and a half.From what we’ve found,
most pet insurance plans don’t seem to cover a dental clean, but if you plan ahead to save up, it can make it easier to have the teeth cleaning done.Even if you are able to brush your cats own teeth, it would still be a good idea to have kitty’s teeth cleaned every few years. If you have a kitten, you can get a finger toothbrush and start early with him... This may help with the teeth cleaning bills later on if you're able to brush your cats teeth daily!
UTI (Urinary Tract Infection) & FLUTD (Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease, also known as FIC) can both be very serious when it comes to your furry feline friend and can both often be life long conditions that require life long care. Both can be triggered by stress and/or environmental factors.
Urinating outside of the litter box is sometime mistaken for a behavioral issue, but before you write it off as behavioral, please be sure and see your vet to rule out health concerns. If your cat is having urinary symptoms, your vet will be able to help diagnose, manage and treat the problem so your cat has a better chance at a healthier and happier life, as do you. As stressful as it may be for you to have litter box issues with your cat, it can be just as stressful, and painful for your cat, and because cats are masters at hiding any health issues, UTI's and FLUTD's (FIC) may be something your cat struggles with for some time before you notice something is wrong.
Recognizing signs and Identifying UTI/FLUTD-FIC in your cat
There are some signs to look for to help get your cat the help he needs in order to manage a urinary infection or disorders, so be sure to keep an eye out for them! If you have any suspicions or concerns about your cats urinary health, the first thing to do is contact your vet immediately. The sooner it is addressed the more likely it will be to get a handle on the condition they may have and begin treating and managing it.
The Difference between UTI's, FLUTD's (FIC)
The difference between UTI's and FLUTD's is that in UTI's, a bacteria is present and has traveled up the urethra. In severe cases the bacteria can also infect the kidneys. UTI's can be treated with antibiotics and sometimes pain medications for relief while the antibiotic does it's work.
With FLUTD's, also known as FIC, the diagnosis can be a little trickier, as this term is used as a sort of catch all for a variety of symptoms that can cause urinary tract issues and is actually much more common in cats than are UTI's. UTI's are more likely to be found in older cats that are 10+ years, but both are serious concerns that should be addressed immediately with your vet.
Signs of Urinary distress:
Accidents in the house outside of the litter box can be the first sign that something is amiss with your cat. If your cat suddenly starts having accidents in the house, it's best to check in with your vet right away. Stress can be a trigger for urinary issues in cats, so make sure that you let your vet know if there have been any stress triggers around your cat recently.
Yowling, crying out, straining or any noises that sound like your cat is struggling or in pain while trying to urinate in the litter box can be signs of a condition called feline idiopathic cystisis or FIC, urethral plugs or even bladder stones or obstructions. These are all serious and require immediate vet care.
Blood in your cats urine is serious and a vet visit is required immediately, as well. This can be a critical sign of all the above conditions and time is of the essence!
Frequent trips to the litter box that produce small amounts of urine can also be cause for immediate concern, as it could mean urethral obstruction, which is an medical emergency and needs veterinary treatment immediately.
The above are a few signs to watch for when it comes to UTI's and FLUTD's in cats. The likely conditions that could be affecting your cat should be addressed promptly so that your cat's condition can be diagnosed and managed as early as possible. One of the more frequent diagnosis with urinary issues is in cats is FLUTD/FIC. This is usually the diagnosis when all other medical concerns have been eliminated by your vet. With FLUTD/FIC it is thought that stress may be a compelling factor, although the direct cause is unknown. This urinary condition is also something that is most likely to return throughout a cat's life from time to time due to the stress factor involved that is thought to play a significant role in the cause.
As far as managing UTI issues in your cat, there is no textbook solution, which is why it's so important to stay in close contact with your trusted vet regarding your cat in order to find the best direction to take in helping your cat and to treating and managing his condition. Treatments for UTI's/FLUTD-FIC's vary and can range from a special diet and medications to surgery, depending on the factors involved and the condition your cat has.
3 Common UTI/FLUTD-FIC Treatment Possibilities Used
Medication: This can be given to help your cat manage any pain or discomfort while you and your vet work to get your cats nutrition and environmental factors managed, or sometimes an antibiotic may be needed to
Nutrition: This is the standard of care for most urinary tract issues is nutrition so be sure and speak with your veterinarian regarding their suggestions and do your research. Another suggestion would be to contact a naturopathic or homeopathic vet that has training in nutrition to help formulate a plan to help your cat live the best life possible! We have a cat that has urinary issues and our homeopathic vet has made a world of difference for her! In any case, moderating your cat's intake of certain minerals can help in reducing crystals that can sometime form in the urine, and anything that can help reduce stress in your cat can make a big difference as well!
Environment: Environmental stressors can be a common cause for flair-ups of urinary problems, so if you have a cat that has these issues try and keep the house quiet, calm and regular. Making sure your cat has things like comfortable cat tree's and scratching posts to help alleviate some of the stress your cat may be experiencing. Vertical space and anything that will help calm your cat and put him at ease should be provided.
Urinary issues in cats cat be tricky, but the sooner you're able to get your cat to the vet the easier it will become to treat and manage. Time is of the essence when it comes to UTI's/FLUTD-FIC's and your cat's life can many times depend on how quickly you get in touch with your vet! Most urinary issues are almost always emergency situations so watch your cat for any signs and act quickly!
Additional Feline Health Resources:
Common Cat Health Concerns