As always, you have been given your cat: food, water, toys, and love but suddenly you see that your furry friend isn’t happy and playful as always. Instead of that, he/she is hiding or sleeping all the time, it’s time to ask your self is my cat healthy? is something wrong with him/her?
As I told you in my previous post, one of the first things you need to do when you bring a new cat into your family is to take him/her to a vet for a pet health checkup. Try to gather any health information you have on your cat from its breeder, previous owner, or animal shelter, if adopted. After a very thorough physical examination, your vet will determine if there are any medical conditions and also if your cat needs vaccinations, and any other tests or treatments.
Regular check-ups and preventative health measures can help keep your cat healthy, but that doesn’t mean he won’t get sick. If your cat starts having lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea, eyes that are red or watery, nasal discharge, sneezing, changes in his coat, problems with urination, or swelling you should take your cat to your vet for an examination.
Is my cat healthy? Healthy pet care depending on cat’s age. Healthy pet care for your cat will change over time depending on the cat’s age, as we will see now:
Baby Kittens and new cats:
If your new cat doesn’t have any health history, your vet will likely run certain cat health screening tests. Feline Leukemia and feline AIDS are health conditions that weaken a cat’s immune system, putting him at risk of developing cancer and other serious diseases, for that reason vets usually would recommend screening at this first stage.
To avoid risk of infection and future health problems, the vet might also want to test your cat for heartworms and obtain a fecal sample to test for intestinal parasites. This is also a good time to talk about flea prevention.
When your cat is between 6 and 16 weeks of age, he/she will need a series of vaccinations to protect them from feline diseases, which include rabies and distemper combination (a vaccination against distemper and two respiratory conditions).
When the cat is six months old or a little bit earlier and after he/she has had the initial vaccinations, it is advisable that your cat gets spayed or neutered, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and other problems.
At least once a year adult cats should have wellness exams. If your cat has any health problems it’s important to take your pet to the veterinarian at least twice a year to prevent something worse.
The distemper combination and rabies vaccines will need to be boosted at regular intervals, usually every 1 to 3 years.
When cats are 8 to 10 years old, their health needs generally begin to change and they are at increased risk of potentially serious health problems. At this age, your cat should be taken for a check-up at least every 6 months.
Vets will often begin recommending blood, urine, and other tests to screen for anemia, diabetes, kidney problems, liver problems, electrolyte imbalances, hyperthyroidism, heart problems, and other diseases.
5 Common Cat Health Problems
- 1 Periodontal (Gum) Disease
How often do you brush or clean your cat’s teeth? Maybe you’ve never really thought about it before, but proper dental care is just as important for your cat’s health as your dental care is to your overall health. If you neglected this basic step, it is very likely your cat will have problems with his/her oral health.
Gum Disease is the number one diagnosed cat and/or dog dental problem in America!. According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) at three years of age, 80% of dogs and 70% of cats have some form of oral disease.
Just as we are now conscious that our own oral health is linked to our overall health, veterinarians want people to understand that dental health care is essential to maintaining the overall health and well-being of the family pet.
When dental care goes neglected, harmful bacteria that are always present in your cat’s mouth begin to grow and multiply at a rapid rate. Tartar then forms on their teeth, their gums become swollen and irritated, and their breath smells rotten. Toxins released by the bacteria eat away at the periodontal ligament, which holds your cat’s teeth in their gums, causing irreversible damage. Your cat’s teeth ache and throb, and become loose, eventually falling out.
Bacteria now roams the body freely through the bloodstream, attacking vital organs such as the heart and kidneys. Damage to these life-sustaining organs is inevitable and, without a transplant, your beloved pet could die.
Symptoms of dental disease in cats often involve difficulty eating, bad breath, and a change in chewing habits. Other signs of dental problems in your cat are discolored, red, or swollen gums, ulcers on the gums or tongue, loose teeth, excessive drooling, or constant pawing at the mouth area.
If you suspect that your cat has dental problems, take him/her to a veterinarian dentist. For good oral hygiene, brush your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste specially-made for felines, and give her a chew toy to exercise her gums and remove tartar before it hardens. Fortunately, I just discovered this great product that is helping us to keep Georgia’s good dental health.
In my next post, I am going to give you much more detailed information about cat’s oral health problem, stay tuned!
- 2 Feline Rabies
Rabies is an inflammatory infection that affects your cat’s brain. Your cat can get this disease if he’s bitten by an infected animal. The symptoms include involuntary muscle movement, aggressiveness, frothy saliva, and excitability. According to The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) there is no treatment or cure for this fatal disease but keeping your cat indoors for the majority of the day will reduce his odds of coming into contact with animals who are carrying the disease.
- 3 Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
FeLV is a serious disease that can affect your cat’s immune system and lead to a variety of secondary illnesses. Cats can pass it to each other via blood, saliva or, in some instances, feces or urine. If your cat suffers from FeLV, he may have tumors, be lethargic or experience a change in weight,
By conducting blood tests, urine tests and, in some cases, bone marrow analyses your vet can confirm this disease. If your cat is diagnosed, your vet will prescribe medications over the course of several months to treat the virus, but any secondary illnesses brought on by the virus, such as cancer, will need to be treated separately. The best way to prevent your cat from developing this disease is to make sure he/she gets the corresponding vaccination.
- 4 Kidney Disease
Renal failure, or kidney disease, is very common in older cats, but it can also affect kittens who are born with weakened kidneys.
Kidney problems in cats reduce their ability to excrete waste into their urine, leading to a dangerous build-up of toxins in the bloodstream. Kidney disease can be caused by a number of factors including high blood pressure, exposure to toxins, infection, kidney stones, and cancer. Symptoms can include decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea, and lethargy, but some cats do not have symptoms at all. In severe cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required.
If you notice your cat relying on scent instead of sight to find his favorite toys or food, or if he has cloudy eyes, he may be losing his sight and this is a sign of renal failure
- 5 Cancer
Lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymph system that can be associated with the feline leukemia virus, is the most common type of cancer in cats. It can be intestinal or in the chest. Another common cancer found in cats, especially white ones, is squamous cell carcinoma.
Symptoms of cancer in cats may include lumps, swelling, persistent skin infections or sores, lethargy, weight loss, sudden lameness, diarrhea or vomiting, and difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating.
Treatment options depend on the type and stage of cancer and may include chemotherapy, surgery (if the cancer is in an operable area), radiation, and immunotherapy.
Overall, the best line of defense for many of these diseases is simple: vaccinations. The vaccination recommendations for cats may change slightly based on the cat’s age, lifestyle and past medical history. All cats should receive the core vaccines to protect them from the most common and highly contagious diseases; these viruses can cause debilitating and potentially life-threatening illness.
If your cat received the necessary and recommended vaccines, you will feel calmer the next time you ask: Is my cat healthy?
Pet Health Insurance
According to the statistics, 1 in every 3 cats will require unplanned veterinary care each year for conditions such as tooth infections, diabetes, kidney disease, thyroid disease, heart disease, etc. If your cat becomes ill or suffers an accident, you would have to pay $500 – $2,000 for this unexpected and unbudgeted expense.
Whether your cat becomes injured in an accident or needs treatment for an illness or medical condition, cat health insurance will help you cover the cost of your veterinary bills and you will be sure that your cat receives the care he/she deserves.
Like human health care insurance, pet health insurance will have a monthly premium. However, a small monthly premium can be much more affordable than a large veterinary bill when your cat unexpectedly becomes ill.
How much does cat insurance cost?
As we saw before, health insurance for your cat can help protect you from large, unexpected veterinary bills and ensure your cat gets the medical care they need, when they need it.
It’s important to compare a range of insurers to ensure you find a cat insurance policy which best suits your individual needs and budget. The cost will depend on several factors: your level of coverage, your co-payment and deductible options, the age and breed of your pet and your location.
To give you an idea, the cost per month – depending on the insurer – goes approx. from US$ 10 per month up to US$ 135 per month. In future Post, I will give you information about how to select a health insurance policy and a review on the best 5 pet health insurance providers
If you get a health insurance for your cat, next time that you ask yourself: Is my cat healthy? You’ll not be afraid of taking him/her to the vet due to the cost of the bill. You will be able to pay for the care he/she needs and you will be sure that your cat gets the medical care they need when they need it.
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Keep on living with Cattitude! Until next Post 🙂