All of us who share homes with the gorgeous creature known as the cat will know the devastating fear of losing your beloved friend to an illness. However, cat illnesses are pretty widespread, and unless you know what you’re up against, how can you prevent them?
Listed below is a detailed outlook of different diseases, along with their symptoms, causes, and the treatment plans laid out for them. Keep an eye on the preventative measure – using those tips could keep your feline friend happy and healthy for many years to come.
Like many other animals out there, cancer is a huge risk even for cats. Cancer is a disease that has many factors influencing it, such as your cat’s environment, genes, and your lifestyle. All these things can impact the cat’s risk for cancer. Cancer is another name for uncontrolled growth of cells, which can be very dangerous for the cat’s body.
Cancers usually have a variety of stages, which determine what kind of treatment is needed, and what the extent of the damage is. Some cats, such as white or light-colored cats for skin cancer, may be at a greater risk. This means it is crucial to research the risk levels that your cat is in and prepare appropriately for it.
Some of the symptoms of cancer that you can note are given below:
- Formation of lumps or swellings anywhere on the cat’s body.
- Any strange discharge or fluid from the body of the cat.
- Abrupt changes in behavior such as lethargy or fatigue.
- Sudden weight loss that is noticeable.
- Red or angry patches on the skin or anywhere on the body.
- Changes in the appetite, either increased or decreased.
When you notice a lump, you should immediately take the cat to a nearby and trusted vet. After that, the vet will probably take a biopsy sample and conduct a biopsy test to see if there is cause for concern. Next, the vet will check the results with other diagnostic tests, such as X rays and radiographs.
If the diagnosis is that your cat has cancer, you will next have to care for your cat as it undergoes treatment, which can include chemotherapy and possibly some kind of surgery. At later stages, there is sometimes no treatment available, where the vet will instead focus on end-of-life care for your cat.
As an owner, you may find yourself worrying about cancers. However, because of the multifactorial nature of cancer, there isn’t a lot to avoid. Instead, first talk to your vet about whether or not your cat is at risk. If you are able, take the time out to research your cat’s breed and figure out the risk factors. Next, do consider spaying or neutering your cat to avoid development of breast cancers, which can develop in some non-spayed cats.
Cats tend to develop parasites in their intestines that can harm their digestive processes and tract. This is especially a problem in cats that live outdoors, because of their continued exposure to other animals. However, it is always important to monitor your cat’s stool and intestinal health, as the presence of worms can be dangerous for both you and your cat.
- Roundworms appear as 3-4 inch long parasites that can be seen in the cat’s stool.
- Hookworms are smaller and their larvae hatch in the cat’s stool.
- Tapeworms are up to 28 inches and can be seen around the cat’s rear and stool.
Some of the symptoms of your cat having worms are:
- The appearance of worms in the stool or near the cat’s rear.
- Vomiting, abrupt weight loss, and consistent diarrhoea.
- Appearance of blood in the stool
- Coughing or any other signs of respiratory difficulties.
A common misconception among pet owners is that deworming is a process that can be undertaken by every single pet owner out there. This is a dangerous way to think – not getting your cat the right care at the right time could give those worms the space to flourish, so immediately take him or her to the vet.
Some parasites can also infect humans, so it is important to take all precautions necessary. As with other human drugs, anti-worm drugs that are used for humans can be harmful to cats, so do not use any medication without a recommendation from your vet.
The best way of preventing worm growth in your cats is by keeping them indoors. Because of the environment of hygiene maintained in most homes, it is unlikely that your cat will be exposed to eggs inside. Another way is to make sure that your way of handling the cleaning of your cat’s stool is safe and hygienic, and also consulting with your vet about different schedules you can use to deworm your cat.
The Feline Panleukopenia virus is a deadly virus that is highly contagious, and often found amongst outdoor and stray populations. This virus attacks the blood cells, leaving the animal in a state of lowered immunity. The cat can then contract other diseases.
Some signs that your cat has Feline Panleukopenia are:
- Bloody diarrhoea and vomiting.
- Dehydration and resultant panting.
- Very high fever and fever-linked symptoms.
- Neurological anomalies such as a reduced sense of coordination.
- Abrupt weight loss and loss of appetite.
- You may notice him or her hovering over food but not eating.
First and foremost, at any of these symptoms, take the cat to a vet immediately. The vet will probably ask you to take some tests and then proceed to give life-saving care. If this is Panleukopenia, the cat will be highly dehydrated, and your vet’s primary concern will be to maintain the electrolyte levels. This will be crucial towards saving his or her life.
As the cat is given this care, the vet may give some antibiotics to prevent secondary infections. This time will be very important, and so you can help by providing the cat with a safe, stress-free environment to heal in.
The first two days of this infection are crucial, so the vet’s concern will be to keep him or her alive during this time. Once your cat makes it through this, he or she is probably in the all clear. Now, your cat will have a natural immunity towards the disease.
Because of its contagious nature, the best way of preventing this disease is vaccination, which has been shown to be highly effective against its onset. Other than that, if a cat nearby has been infected, the area needs to be effectively cleaned and quarantined.
Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
You may have heard of Calicivirus, an infectious disease that spreads amongst cats and affects their respiratory tract. This is just one virus in a class of many others that can cause Upper Respiratory Tract Infections.
Here are some signs that your cat may be suffering a URTI:
- More sneezing than normal.
- A runny nose with abnormal discharge.
- A cough or a high fever.
- Very fast breathing or breathing with mouth open.
- A dramatic change in appetite.
Although respiratory infections aren’t life-threatening in and of themselves, immediate care is needed as they could develop into something bigger, like pneumonia. When you consult a vet, they will probably prescribe some antibiotics, advise the cat to be given rest, and if they are dehydrated, give them some kinds of fluids. If the cat completely stops eating, the vet may also take care of his or her nutrition.
Because various factors interplay in the development of this, one way you can be quick in picking on this disease is to know that you are at risk. So if you have multiple cats, keep an eye out. Some cats that are overly stressed can develop these diseases too, as well as breeds that are ‘punch-faced’ such as Persians, who have a genetic link because of the structure of their faces.