Guide to Cat Health

Keeping your cat healthy requires awareness, observation, and regular veterinarian care.
Most feline diseases can be prevented by the proper vaccinations and vet check-ups.

The most common and easily recognized symptoms indicating cat health issues are:

  • Lack of appetite for more than 18 hours
  • Behavior abnormal to the cat's usual behavior
  • Excessive vomiting
  • Abnormal breathing patterns
  • Continuous coughing

If your cat is expressing any of these, call a vet immediately. Familiarity with your pet and their usual behaviors is important so that you will notice when they act strangely.

Fleas are among the most frequent and pesky of parasites. They feed on cats' blood, causing skin infections, anemia and tapeworms. Flea infestations can be so severe that kittens can die from blood loss. They also cause your pet to itch, leading to self mutilation and scratching. Infestations can be even worse if the infested animal is allergic to flea saliva.
Fleas, among other external parasites, can be prevented by treating your pet's fur with certain medicines once a month. Flea collars and shampoos are another method used to prevent and get rid of fleas.

Ear mites can cause ear infections and much discomfort. Cats who suffer from ear mites usually have black ear discharge, an increased amount of earwax, irritation, and scratching. Ear mites can be treated with medication and cleaning of the ears.

Outdoor cats are prone to ticks. Ticks can easily be removed with a pair of tweezers. However, they spread diseases, such as Lyme, to animals. Some pets are allergic to tick bites, and may have inflammation of the skin where they have been bitten. Cats found with engorged ticks on them should be taken to the vet to check for diseases and allergic reactions.

Numerous types of worms can invade a cat's anatomy. Roundworms, heartworms, hookworms, and tapeworms are all common among cats. Weight loss, a poor-looking coat, frequent vomiting, and a pot-bellied appearance are all signs of worms. Medication can easily cure worms, but more serious problems will occur if worms are left untreated.
Gastrointestinal Parasites of Cats
Cat Parasites: Types, Transmission & Life Cycles
About cat parasites.

Dental Health
There are many different dental issues that can occur in cats. The majority of felines develop dental problems by the time they are three years old. Cats with any sort of oral problems may show a lack of appetite, aggressiveness or irritableness, or bad breath.

Your cat may be suffering from severe tartar build-up if it has foul breath, drooling, reluctance to eat, difficulty chewing, or inflamed gums. Dental plaque is formed by bacteria and food that sticks to the teeth. If the plaque is not removed, bacteria continue to grow and minerals begin to build up around the teeth, forming tartar. Tartar build-up can be prevented by feeding cats hard, dry foods that can scrape off plaque, and brushing their teeth on a weekly basis with a toothbrush and toothpaste manufactured specifically for cats. Veterinarians can remove tartar by using anesthesia on the cat, and then cleaning its teeth.

Like tartar, gingivitus is caused by build-up of plaque, which causes bleeding, swollen gums. Gingivitis can lead to very severe periodontal disease, an inflammation of the teeth. Spaces form inside the teeth, allowing bacteria to grow there. Periodontal disease is the most common oral problem in cats.

Dental resorption lesions tend to appear below the gum line and often begin as loss of tooth enamel. They can lead to damaged nerves and blood vessels around the teeth. The cause of these lesions is unknown. Teeth can be treated with fluoride to treat some lesions, but often the lesions are not able to be removed.
Cat Dental Care
Ten Steps to Cat Dental Health
Feline Dental Pathology and Care
Dental Disease Information

Many health problems in cats are caused by stress. Common stress symptoms include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Lack of socialness or activity
  • Fur falling out or being pulled out
  • Pacing
  • Trembling
  • Spraying, even in neutered cats
  • Aggression

Stress can have various causes. Changes in the cat's environment, such as moving or a new family member, may cause anxiety. A new family member, whether a new baby, cat, or spouse, could make the cat jealous and competitive. Other factors could be loud noises like construction or parties, or the fear of another animal or human. Anxiety and stress in older cats and cats with weak immune systems can be very serious.

Diet and Nutrition
Cats need a protein-rich diet. Because they are carnivores, they cannot live on a vegetarian diet. However, feeding them raw meat can bring about deadly diseases. Instead, they should eat food based on chicken, fish, egg, or lamb. Cats need fiber, carbohydrates, and fatty acids to keep their digestive system healthy. Dry food can help keep teeth clean, but if your cat has broken or missing teeth, you may want to feed them canned food. Different cat foods are formulated for the cat being fed (kittens, older cats, obese cats, etc.).
Diabetes sometimes occurs in cats, in which case their vet will prescribe them food.

Other Hazards
Many human foods are hazardous to cats, including onions, garlic, tomatoes, raw potatoes, chocolate, grapes and raisins, and milk. Most cat owners do not know that the majority of cats are lactose-intolerant. Milk is not toxic to cats, but it can bring cramps, gas, and stomach aches. Cream or milk in small portions is harmless.

Eating certain foliage, including, azalea, castor bean, oleander, sago palms, and yew, can be fatal for felines. All types of lilies and all parts of lily plants are also toxic to cats. Eating even a small part of a lily can cause kidney failure and death. Because cats clean themselves, it is important to not let them around hazardous plants.
Plants and Your Cat from the Cat Fancierís Association
Plants Poisonous to Cats
Plants that are toxic to cats.

Other hazards include household chemicals and insecticides. Rodent poison can also be fatal to cats, so it can be dangerous for them to eat rats and mice that have possibly been poisoned. Some pennies can be toxic because they contain zinc, which causes kidney failure in pets. Batteries, potpourri, and mothballs are also toxic.

Hairballs form when cats swallow hair as they groom themselves. They are normal and cause vomiting. Preventing hairballs is easily done by keeping your cat well-groomed and regularly brushing it.
All about cats.
Cat Behavior
The US Humane Society on cats.
Cat Training - Behavior and Psychology
From kittens to cats behavior.
Cat Communication
Cat Postures/Body Language
Cat Body Language

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