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Common health problems for cats and how to prevent them

August 13, 2020

Cats may seem to be independent creatures that demand little of your attention. But like humans, they are also susceptible to various illnesses and health issues. It’s our responsibility as pet parents to recognize when something’s wrong with our feline friend. Here are some common health problems for cats, as well as things you can do to prevent them. It’s easier to treat a condition that’s identified early on, so be attentive of any symptoms and take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Diabetes

Diabetes is a common condition that can develop in cats, especially in older male feline that are overweight, neutered, and eat mostly dry food. The type of diabetes cats mostly suffer from is Type II, which is when the body cells don’t respond well to insulin, a necessary hormone to regulate blood sugar level.

Symptoms:

  • Weight loss despite eating the same amount or more
  • Excessive thirst
  • Excessive urination

How to prevent it: Maintaining a healthy weight can go a long way in preventing diabetes, cats and humans alike. Take note of how much your kitty is eating and make meals smaller if he or she is putting on excess pudge. While it hasn’t been proven that a low-carb diet high in protein can actually prevent feline diabetes, your vet may prescribe such a diet if your cat is already diabetic.

Lower urinary tract diseases

If you notice your kitty having litter box troubles, then perhaps he or she is bothered by lower urinary tract diseases that’s causing an inflammation in the bladder and/or urethra. There could be many causes, including bacterial infection, urinary stones, and even stress.

Symptoms:

  • More frequent trips to the litter box
  • Look of strain when urinating
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Blood in urine
  • Licking around genitals

How to prevent it: Cats who drink little water or overweight are more prone to diseases in the urinary tract, so anything that encourages them to up their liquid intake would help. Is your kitty feeling anxious? Help lower their stress level by making sure they have enough resting and hiding places, and that there are enough space and litter boxes if you have more than one cat at home.

Skin conditions

Kitties can be plagued with various skin problems, including parasites, fungal or bacterial infection, and allergies. The easiest way to identify any skin conditions your feline friend may have is their grooming and scratching behavior. If you notice they’re scratching excessively, or if you see any hair loss, then you should check with the vet what could be causing your kitty discomfort.

Symptoms:  

  • Excessive or more aggressive scratching
  • Hair loss
  • Bumps, sores, or scabs

How to prevent it: Keeping your cats indoors is the most effective way of avoiding fleas, mites, ringworm and other types of parasites and infections. However, these pests can still find their way into your home, so regular prevention, especially against ticks and fleas, is also important. Check with your vet what type of preventive treatments are available and most suited for your kitty.

Dental disease

Dental problems are one of the most common reasons for cats to visit the vet. As with humans, a buildup of plaque can cause gums to swell and become quite painful. If left untreated, it can develop into the more serious periodontal disease that could require removal of infected teeth.

Symptoms:

  • Bad breath
  • Swollen gum that sometimes bleed
  • Appearing to be in pain when eating

How to prevent it: Just as we brush our teeth at least twice daily, our kitties should also have their teeth cleaned regularly. They may not like it (at first!), but it’s worth developing that habit, saving you from expensive vet bills in the future to treat dental diseases. There are also special chew toys and dental treats that may be more welcomed by your cat as ways to improve dental hygiene.

Kidney disease

Kidneys play a vital function in keeping our kitties healthy and it’s a serious issue if they’re not working well. Unfortunately, it’s a common problem for many older cats over 7. It’s often a chronic disease, meaning it is a long-term illness that isn’t easily cured. It could also be a sudden, or acute, illness if your kitty contracted an infection or ate something toxic. Kidney diseases are complicated, not easy to identify, and could be linked to other illnesses.

Symptoms:

  • Weight loss
  • More urination
  • Drinking more liquids
  • Vomiting
  • Bad breath

How to prevent it: For some cats, kidney problems are hereditary. But we can still do our best to minimize the risk. Wet food is preferred over kibble as it ensures your kitty is hydrated. You don’t have to completely eliminate dry food but slowly incorporate more wet food in your cat’s diet. Make sure the litter box is well maintained and water is always available.

While some of the health problems can be easily resolved, others are more harmful and require costly treatments. Check out our Cat Insurance page to see how Pawfect Care can help you protect your kitty’s health.