Beyond the appearance of a self-sufficiency, most cats face a variety of health struggles in their lives. This occurs by them getting into trouble either through exploring, mixing with a surly crowd, or picking up infections and unwanted parasites. Below is a sampling of the more common issues which assail felines.
Obesity: All that lounging around and taking “cap naps” often results in feline obesity. Of the domestic dogs and cats in the United States, over 50% of these are clinically obese. This is dangerous as overweight cats are more likely to develop diabetes, joint soreness and spinal strain. Monitor your cat’s food portions, and encourage rigorous playtime and exercise to keep him fit and fabulous.
Fleas/Skin Allergies: Like dogs, cats tend to be a tempting house for fleas. If a cat spends a fair amount of time outdoors, or perhaps around feral cats (which is unadvisable for many reasons!), they are much more likely to get fleas. Your cat may be showing signs of fleas if she is licking or scratching her fur repeatedly, or if her coat has “flea spotting” or dusty black specs. This can be treated with flea collars, flea shampoos, combs, and internal medication. For skin allergies, which usually have the same symptoms as fleas such as hair loss, irritated/scratched fur, etc. Allergies can be corrected by something as small as a diet change, but should also be confirmed with a vet to ensure that it is not something more serious.
Dental Diseases: It is difficult to image a dental disease actually being a common ailment, however many cats seem to suffer from oral issues such as sore gums and gingivitis, bad breath, difficulty eating due to pain in the teeth, gums or tongue. Periodontis and gingivitis are diseases which routinely assail felines, and if left untreated can negatively affect the kidney. Taking a cat to a groomer for a professional teeth cleaning will help fight gum disease; and daily brushing thereafter will improve your cat’s overall oral hygiene.
Worms: Though we most often associate worms with dogs, cats also can also suffer from worms, like their canine counterparts. Roundworm can be caught if a cat bites rodents, birds or insects that have worms already. Most worms are problematic as they travel through a cat’s bloodstream, and inhabit different organs, such as tapeworms which usually settle in the stomach or intestines. Though de-worming medication is effective against many kinds of worms, there is no cure for heartworm disease amongst cats.
Infections: One of the most common infections cats suffer from is the Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD, which causes pain and difficulty urinating. Another common problem is the upper respiratory infection, also known as a “kitty cold.” Fortunately, most infections can be treated by antibiotics, meaning at the first sign of symptoms, a trip the vet will be in order.
Vomiting/Diarrhea: Ever heard of the term “hairball”? That is the affectionate title for the mass of nastiness that cats cough up after preening and grooming themselves. Cats also typically vomit from having eaten something difficult to digest, or may be poisonous to his system. They tend to have problems with diarrhea if they have eaten something unusual, or have an allergy to some kind of food. Though some of these issues might be corrected with change of diet, serious digestive issues might also indicate bowel infections, kidney disease, or cancer. If the symptoms persist, your cat should receive a professional diagnosis to see if there may be a greater health concern at hand.