Cats are wonderful companions. They are also very independent animals, which means they are masters at hiding their true feelings- including when they are under the weather. An essential part of being a pet parent is being aware of the signs of possible health concerns in your feline family members before they become bigger issues.
Unfortunately, you can’t always prevent these ailments. You can, however, learn how to manage them with your vet’s help! Learning the symptoms of the most common health issues in cats can make a difference when it comes to your cat’s life.
It’s estimated that over 90% of cats over the age of 12 suffer from some sort of arthritis, most of the time without us knowing. Cats don’t show many outward signs of joint pain or it goes unnoticed due to their docile nature, more commonly when they are seniors.
If you notice your cat has trouble climbing, using their litter box or even daily grooming, it may be time to talk to your vet about the possibility of inflammation or irritation in your pet’s joints. Your vet may recommend weight loss, prescribe medication to ease inflammation and natural supplements to help restore some mobility. They may even offer physical therapy or holistic treatments such as acupuncture and massage, in some cases.
Hyperthyroidism in felines occurs when there is an increased production of thyroid hormones. The thyroid helps regulate normal body processes, such as brain development, metabolism, digestive functions and more. However, when there is an excess of thyroid hormones being produced, it can cause a myriad of health issues in cats.
You may notice extreme weight loss and an increase in thirst, urination and appetite. So while your cat’s sudden interest in food and water might seem like a good thing, it could be a sign of an underlying issue that is worth exploring with a veterinary professional. They may perform bloodwork to confirm a diagnosis and offer treatments such as diet change, antithyroid medication or even removal of the thyroid gland.
Very similar to humans, cats are vulnerable to many different types of cancers with age, most commonly Lymphosarcoma- cancer a type of blood cell called lymphocytes. If you notice any unusual bumps or lumps, loss of appetite, prolonged lameness, skin infections, difficulty breathing or more take your cat to the vet for further examination.
Depending on the severity and stage, you vet and/or oncologist may suggest chemotherapy, radiation, surgery or immunotherapy. Treatments for cancers are more evolved than they’ve ever been, so cancer is not always an end for your fur baby.
Kidney disease and failure is one of the most common problems we see in cat health, and it can be caused for a variety of reasons. Acute kidney failure is sudden and can develop quickly and without warning. It can be caused from accidental ingestion of household items such as toxic plants and flowers, poisons, pesticides, and even medication meant for human use. Acute kidney failure can also be a result of infection or other diseases that restrict or reduce blood flow to the kidneys themselves.
Chronic kidney failure happens over time, and seemingly so in older cats, as with most other health issues. Signs to watch out for include frequent urination and increased thirst, rapid weight loss and more. Your vet will want to do a blood and urine test to help diagnose the issues.
While it is not reversible, it can be managed through medication and maintaining proper nutrition by providing regularly clean water to keep them hydrated and feeding a restricted protein and low phosphate diet, as recommended by your veterinarian.
Blog Post Written By: Jasmine Kemper
JustFoodForDogs Nutrition Consultant