Just like any other living thing, cats get sick. From bacterial infections to viruses to worms, fungi and everything between, cats are prone to countless illnesses. Of course, some are much more common than others. Read on for five of the most common cat ailments, and how to treat them should your cat fall ill.
Cats have sensitive lower urinary systems that can prevent the bladder from emptying. This in turn can cause problems with a cat's urethra. The issue is called idiopathic feline lower urinary tract disease (IFLUTD). The infection usually develops spontaneously, and can affect any cat. There are many potential causes, like viruses, bacteria accumulation, stress and urinary tract infections. Symptoms include painful urination, blood in urine, urinating outside the litter box and more frequent using the litter box use.
HOW IS IFLUTD TREATED?
The vet will have to check for a series of other issues before diagnosing IFLUTD. Once he or she reaches that diagnosis, the vet will check for blockages in the urethra. If there is a blockage, your cat will need in-patient care. Those without blockages can usually heal with outpatient medications. If issues continue to arise, dietary changes and long-term medication may be necessary. (Source)
Tapeworms are parasites that invade the small intestine and eat what your pet eats. This deprives the host of nutrients. Tapeworms don't usually lead to serious health problems, but can cause irritation like anal itching. They may also affect a host's nutrition to some degree. Tapeworms are more dangerous to growing and developing kittens and puppies than to adult pets.
HOW ARE TAPEWORMS TREATED?
Treatment for tapeworms in your pet is simple, fast and relatively inexpensive. Your vet will likely give your cat or dog an effective dewormer, either through an injection or oral medication. Tapeworms are often passed to cats and dogs through fleas. Thus, controlling tapeworms means treating and preventing flea infestations.
For more information, read our guide to pets and parasitic worms.
It's easy enough for a pet to contract fleas. There are more than 2,000 species of fleas, and they are rampant in the United States. While they prefer warm, humid conditions, they can exist in cool temperatures too, thus making them a big problem throughout the year. Fleas can transmit many diseases. These include hemobartonellosis, flea allergy dermatitis, tapeworms, cat scratch disease and even plague.
HOW ARE FLEAS TREATED?
Every pet is susceptible to fleas, but preventative care is easy, safe and effective. There are many products that can provide complete flea and tick control in your pet. Typical treatments include oral tablets and topical medications. Besides putting your pet on flea medication, regular spot checks and grooming are crucial to keep pets free of fleas and ticks.
For more information, read our guide to pets and fleas.
There are many dental and oral diseases of which cat owners should be aware. Learn to recognize the signs of common feline oral issues like plaque buildup, tartar and gingivitis. Some less familiar problems like feline tooth resorption are also important to know about. With luck, you’ll never see these problems in your own cat’s mouth, but knowing about them ahead of time can only help with early detection.
HOW IS ORAL DISEASE TREATED?
Treatment depends on the type and severity of the disease, but the key to all is prevention. That means brushing your cat's teeth. You should brush your cat’s teeth every day, or at least a couple of times a week. Start by gently massaging its gums with your fingers. Don’t be too aggressive; just get your catbused to this mild invasion of its mouth. After several days of this, add a bit of cat toothpaste to the mix to introduce the taste. Eventually, start using a toothbrush, one designed for cats. Some are designed to slip onto your finger and, with these, your routine can be like when you were merely massaging your cat’s gums.
For more information, read our guide to guide to feline dental health.
Obesity is an American epidemic, and it's not limited only to humans. More than half of the pet cats in America are overweight or obese. Obesity can lead a lot of the same problems in cats that it causes in humans. These health problems include include musculoskeletal system abnormalities, hypothyroidism, heart disease, skin abnormalities, cancer, diabetes and much more.
Next: Solutions to Common Cat Problems
HOW IS OBESITY TREATED?
The ailments that obesity causes each have their own treatments, but the way to treat obesity itself is with diet and exercise. Work with your veterinarian to decide how much weight your cat needs to lose. Find the right diet changes and exercise options that are best for your cat. Slow and steady wins the weight-loss race.
For more information, see our guide to feline weight loss.