Any animal you keep – even the domestic cat – has the potential for health issues and the need for preventative maintenance. If you are new to owning a cat, health problems can be expensive and even fatal if left too long.
So let’s talk about common problems to watch out for and in future articles we’ll discuss more specific issues.
No matter what breed or sex of cat you own, health problems need to be addressed and prevented when possible. Some, however, are genetic.
Worms and Parasites
Worms are a very common and recurring problem – especially so with country cats who are your property ‘mousers’. Tapeworms, roundworms, and hookworms are among the most common.
Watch your cat for sudden weight loss, increased feeding, or an overly skinny or lethargic cat. Cats who have problems with fleas are almost certain to contract internal parasites. If you find white specks in your cat’s stool, you should have your vet test a sample for worms. They are easily treated with medicine, but worms can prove to be fatal if they are left untreated. When treating your cat for worms be sure to clear up any flea infestation as well.
Hairballs are another common health problem for cats – especially long haired cats. All cats groom themselves daily and in the process swallow the loose hair that comes off their coats.
At times this loose hair gathers into a ball internally and become lodged in your cat’s digestive tract instead of passing through in stools.
If your cat coughs and hacks, he is likely trying to remove a hairball through natural processes. Although it can be rather disgusting in the end, most cats can dislodge hairballs without any problems.
In some cases though that hairball passes through to your cat’s intestinal tract and creates a blockage. Blockages can be life threatening if they aren’t treated. If your cat appears constipated, suddenly doesn’t eat as much and develops a dull coat, he could have a blockage.
This problem is best treated by a veterinarian. However, you can prevent hairballs and blockages in the future by brushing your cat 2 – 3 times a week and changing your cat’s food to one specially formulated for hairballs.
Urinary Tract Infections in Country Cats
Urinary tract infection is most common with male cats that haven’t been neutered, although female felines can suffer from this problem too.
Watch for cats that suddenly stop going to their litter box or if your cat’s urine starts to smell very strong. If you suspect that your cat has a urinary tract infection, take him to the vet where the problem will be treated with medication. You will also learn how to prevent this problem from reoccurring in cats that are prone to this condition.
Feline Leukemia – A Killer of Cats
In previous years feline leukemia was the biggest cause of death in cats. Today however, vaccines have been developed that treat the disease before it starts (preventative).
The only way to treat feline leukemia is to vaccinate your cat before she is exposed. Cats that are exposed to feline leukemia normally don’t have a long life span therefore if you know your cat has feline leukemia, you should never allow other cats around him.
To protect your cat from this fatal virus, you should always make sure that shots and check ups are current and regular. If you keep him up to date on vaccinations, he should lead a healthy and productive life.
Preventative Health Measures for Your Cat
Although some cat health problems can’t be avoided, many of them can be prevented.
Keeping your cat indoors also protects him from a majority of health problems, but if yours is an outdoor cat, don’t neglect those regular vet visits and you will have a sweet companion for many years to come.