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The top five most commonly overlooked health problems in cats
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The top five most commonly overlooked health problems in cats

Cats
Health & Safety

However hard you try to do your best for your cat and ensure that you take them to the vet promptly at the first sign of any illness or injury, do you ever worry that you might be missing something? Cats are notoriously very good at hiding pain; this means that it can be hard to identify that something is causing them discomfort, or that your cat is sick, until the problem has become fairly advanced. Whereas if something is amiss with dogs, they will often seek comfort from their favourite people and let them know in a variety of different ways that something is wrong, cats are more likely to keep themselves to themselves, hide, or even go off into the wild on their own until they hopefully feel better.There are several health conditions and illness that cats are particularly prone to, but which progress slowly rather than acutely, and may not manifest with a significant number of outward signs. This can make it easy to overlook these conditions, and not realise that something is wrong with your cat’s health or behaviour until the condition has already been present for some time. Knowing what these conditions are, how to identify them and how to check their symptoms can go a long way towards ensuring that you will catch any potential problems in the early stages, when treatment will be the most effective. Do you want to learn more? Then keep reading!

1. Respiratory problems and allergies

Cats have delicate respiratory systems, and can be sensitive to allergens and irritants such as dust and smog in the air. Your cat’s breathing may be affected by particulate matter such as dust or pollen itself, or they may present with a respiratory problem or unusual breathing as the result of an allergy. Feline asthma is an allergen-triggered condition, and one that requires formal diagnosis and treatment to manage. Feline asthma, left unchecked, will worsen over time, and potentially cause lung damage and more severe breathing problems. Be on the lookout for signs and symptoms such as snoring that does not have a clear cause, noisy breathing when awake, hyperventilating, laboured breathing and open-mouthed breathing. If you suspect your cat is suffering from any of these problems, pop them along to the vet to diagnose the underlying cause and address the issue.

2. Problems with the teeth and gums

If your cat appears to have difficulty eating, eats particularly slowly, appears to be in pain when eating or drops a good amount of the food that he picks up with his mouth, this may be indicative of dental problems. Unfortunately, very few owners introduce their cats to a dental care and cleaning regime while they are still young enough to accept this treatment, and so bad teeth and gums is a condition that cats are all too commonly prone to, and one that is often overlooked. If your cat drools when purring or sitting quietly or has bad breath, this is not normal, and you should have your pet checked out by your vet. Red or inflamed gums, grey-coloured or missing teeth, loose teeth and any abscesses or unusual patches of the gums will all need professional treatment, and you should ask your vet to check your cat’s teeth at least once a year to catch any problems early. A full deep cleaning procedure including plaque removal and excising any damaged or loose teeth may be appropriate, and the vast majority of cats over the age of eight and often much younger will benefit greatly from this procedure- although they might not think so at the time! Click below to read more information regarding Dental problems in Cats.

3. Urinary tract and kidney issues

Problems with the kidneys and urinary tract affect a small but significant number of cats every year, and the incidence rate for these problems increase with age. Male cats are much more prone to contracting problems with the bladder and kidneys than female cats, although either gender may develop a problem. Excessive water consumption, strong smelling urine, excessive urination or not enough urination relative to the amount of water drunk may be the first signs of a kidney problem in your cat, as are issues such as going to the toilet in the wrong place or appearing to forget their house training. Get your cat formally diagnosed and onto a treatment and management regime as soon as possible- by the time any symptoms become apparent in your cat, they will probably have been developing the condition for some time.

4. Obesity

A great many cats are apt to pile on a few extra ounces as they age, and naturally become less active and less interested in play. It is important to keep an eye on your cat’s weight and keep it in check, and alter their feeding accordingly to match their activity levels. Don’t let your cat put on a significant amount of weight without addressing this- it is much harder to put your cat on a diet than it is to keep them within a healthy weight range in the first place! Consider lower calorie diets (often available from your vet) and go easy on the treats to prevent cat obesity!

5. Arthritis

Rheumatoid arthritis is a condition that older cats (and dogs) can be prone to, although the disease can present itself at any age. Arthritis is a condition that causes painful and inflamed joints, which can both be exacerbated though lack of movement and not enough exercise, and cause your cat to find moving around painful, so forming a vicious circle. A little stiffness and the odd ache alongside of aging is a normal side effect of maturity for most cats- and people; but if your cat appears to be in pain, sits hunched up, walks stiffly, avoids expending too much energy or seeing to be moving overly cautiously, pop them along to the vet for a check-up. Arthritis cannot be cured, but there are a wide range of supplements and medications that can help to ease the symptoms of the disease and keep pain to a minimum.

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