For the past couple of weeks, my cat Billy has been having a tough bout with a urinary tract infection, reminding me that in addition to good communication skills with our animals, we also need good, practical knowledge on health issues and health care. Below is a great article on cat health, written by Darlene Norris of Cool Cat Care Stuff and reprinted with her permission.
Did you know that kitties can be quite adept at hiding signs of illness? Many cats don’t see a vet until they are very sick, simply because their owners didn’t realize anything was wrong.
Spend time with your kitty every day, petting her from head to toe. This way you’ll know if any strange lumps appears anywhere on her body. Play with her, too. Toys don’t have to be fancy. One of those tape measures that retracts by itself makes a great cat toy. Kitties love chasing it as it “runs” back into the case. Daily exercise will help keep her in top shape, and you’ll notice right away if she’s having trouble jumping or moving around.
Watch for changes in your cat’s appetite. In a multi-cat household, this can be a little hard, especially if you’re using a feeder. Try to feed each cat a measured portion separately so you’ll know if somebody’s appetite is getting bigger or smaller. Ravenous hunger with no weight gain can be a symptom of feline diabetes, while a complete lack of appetite can indicate other problems.
Has your kitty’s personality changed? A formerly friendly, happy cat who suddenly becomes grouchy or aggressive needs a check-up at her vet’s. She could be in pain from a bad tooth, or an ear infection, or arthritis, or….
Has she stopped using her litter box? Or is she using it more than she usually does? Watch for blood in her urine, too. I once heard about a cat who walked up to her owner, who was sitting on the floor reading the newspaper, which was spread out in front of her on the floor. The cat squatted down, and urinated on the paper, right in front of her owner, who could see right away that the urine was bloody. Most cats aren’t as obvious as that, but be aware of any changes in litter box habits, or if she’s going in strange places.
Is she drinking more or less water than usual? Extreme thirst is another symptom of feline diabetes. You need to know what your cat’s usual habits are. I used to have a cat who drank LOTS of water, but she was perfectly healthy. If she had suddenly stopped drinking as much, I would have wondered if something was wrong.
Watch your kitty’s eyes, too. Cats have what is called a “third eyelid,” or nictitating membrane. You may notice this membrane covering the inside third of your cat’s eye. This is a symptom that she’s not feeling well.
Cats are very careful in their grooming. If your kitty starts looking a bit scraggly or moth-eaten, that’s a tip-off that she’s neglecting her grooming. And that’s a sign that something is wrong.
You know how often your cat meows. If she’s suddenly noisier than usual, she could be coming into heat. Have your kitty spayed or neutered to prevent unwanted kittens. I love kittens (who doesn’t?), but I saw many beautiful cats and kittens euthanized when I worked at the animal shelter years ago, simply because there weren’t enough homes for every cat. And sadly, this hasn’t changed. So be a responsible cat owner, and have her “fixed”!
On the other hand, if your sociable, out-going cat suddenly turns into a silent recluse who hides under the bed or in the closet, this is cause for a trip to the vet to find out what’s going on. Many times cats who are not feeling well prefer to hide out and be alone.
Trust your instincts. If something is not quite right about your cat, it’s a good idea to take her to the vet’s for a check-up.
The easiest way to keep your cat healthy is by feeding her a good diet.
Until next time,