It can be difficult for pet parents to distinguish between a minor problem and a serious health issue because cats are fiercely independent and occasionally mysterious little creatures. Understanding the warning signs and symptoms of the most prevalent feline health issues, such as diabetes, FIV, and FeLV, is essential. Making sure your cat is as happy and healthy as possible is the first step in providing the best care for them as a loving pet owner.
Cats are experts at masking symptoms of disease or discomfort. They are frequently seriously ill by the time they begin to exhibit symptoms. You can spot some issues early and get your cat examined by your veterinarian before they worsen by becoming familiar with what is typical for your cat and keeping an eye out for even small changes.
how to examine the health of your cat?
- Physical condition.
When taking care of cats, you should frequently assess their physical health. With only a light covering of fat, your cat’s ribs should be easily palpable when you run your hands over them, depending on the breed and length of their coat.
When viewed from above, they should have a clearly defined hourglass waist and a very thin pad of fat on their stomach.
Because cat ears are so delicate and sensitive, they need to be handled carefully. Their ears should never be dirty, have any waxy or thick discharge, or have any irritation, itching, or unpleasant odors. Consider applying a thin layer of sunscreen to your cat’s thin hair or white-tipped ears to prevent sunburn, which can result in skin cancer.
Take your cat to the vet for a thorough ear exam and general cat health check if they begin to shake their heads constantly, hold their heads to one side, or rub their faces on objects more frequently than usual. Never poke anything inside your cat’s ears or try to probe them yourself; you don’t want to risk doing more harm.
Your cat’s eyes should be clear, bright, and free of any runny, red, or sore areas. If your pet suddenly starts bumping into things or squinting or running away from the light, take them to the vet for a checkup.
It should feel soft and barely damp to touch your cat’s nose. Consider taking them to the veterinarian for a health check if they exhibit any of the following symptoms: crusting, bleeding, discharge, or excessive sneezing.
As cats are susceptible to the flu, this is especially crucial if their eyes are also a little runny.
Not only are cats with bad breath unpleasant company, but foul breath can also be a sign of digestive or kidney issues. But more frequently, it’s a symptom of plaque or bacterial overgrowth on their teeth and gums, which, if left untreated, can cause organ issues, tooth decay, and gum disease.
Teeth should be white or cream in color and free of extra tartar, which has a thick, brown appearance. Gums shouldn’t be red, swollen, or bleeding; instead, they should be a healthy pink color (or black, depending on your cat’s skin tone). Bad breath, excessive salivation, reluctance to eat, mouth-cracking, and dropping food are all indications that something is wrong. Every time you visit the vet, request that they brush your cat’s teeth, but ideally you should brush your cat’s teeth twice daily with a cat-specific toothpaste. One can be suggested by your vet.
- Skin and coat
Your cat’s skin will be pink or black, depending on the pigmentation of its skin, and it shouldn’t exhibit any symptoms of crusting, itching, scaling, black or white spots, infection, or inflammation. Although some breeds will have thinner coats than others, they should have a thick, shiny coat that is free of fleas, dandruff, broken hairs, and bald patches. It can be tempting for you or your cat to scratch at cat acne, but you should resist and consult your veterinarian instead.
All year long, your cat will shed hair, but typically more so in the summer and the fall. For this reason, it’s a good idea to start teaching your cat to regularly groom themselves at a young age. Our page on treating cat fleas and ticks should help you keep bothersome parasites at bay.
Cat health problems that are common
- Eye Problems
Many different conditions, including conjunctivitis, cataracts, glaucoma, trauma, viruses, inflammation, and retinal disease, can lead to eye issues in cats.
Watery eyes, tear-stained fur, cloudiness, red or white eyelid linings, gunk in the corners of the eye, squinting, pawing at the eye, or a third eyelid that is clearly visible
If you don’t know what’s causing your cat’s eye issues, your only option is to use a damp cotton ball to remove any debris. Then, give your vet a call.
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (fiv)
As the name suggests, FIV is a condition that weakens a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections or diseases. Since FIV is most frequently transmitted from cat to cat through bite wounds, outdoor male cats that engage in combat have a higher risk of contracting the disease.
Blood tests are used to diagnose FIV. FIV cannot be cured, but with the right care, infected cats can lead normal lives. FIV frequently goes unnoticed, and infected cats may not exhibit symptoms for years.
They include things like ingesting something hazardous or inedible (like string), infections, diabetes, urinary tract disease, or hairballs.
Drooling and abdominal heaving are two symptoms that are typically obvious. Vomiting can cause your cat to become quickly dehydrated, so if your cat keeps vomiting or acts sick, call your veterinarian right away. Taking a sample of your cat’s vomit with you to the doctor may be helpful.
Ringworm is not caused by a worm at all, despite what the name might imply. Rather, it is brought on by a fungus that can affect the skin, hair, and nails. This highly contagious illness can cause patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings, which are not unusual in cats. Ringworm, also known as dermatophytosis, frequently spreads to other household pets as well as to people.
Heartworm, which is spread by infected mosquitoes, is increasingly being recognized as the root cause of health issues in domestic cats. An unusual host for heartworms is cats. Despite its name, heartworm mainly affects cats’ lungs and leads to lung disease. Any cat owner who lives in a region with a high mosquito population should be concerned about it, and a veterinarian should be consulted about prevention.
Visit the vet frequently to have your cat’s general health, weight, and teeth examined. For long-haired cats in particular, groom them frequently to keep their coats healthy and to strengthen your bond with them. To maintain healthy teeth, don’t forget to monitor your cat’s weight and feed them the proper diet.