- The Top 10 Cat Health Problems
- Low energy (lethargy) in cats
- Why is my cat suddenly so lethargic?
- Should I Worry if My Cat’s Poop Has Blood or Mucus?
- What Causes Blood in Cat’s Stool?
- Diagnosing Blood in Cat’s Stool
- Treatment for Blood in Cat Stool
- Top 6 Causes of Blood in Your Dog or Cats Stool
- The Top 10 Most Common Health Problems For Cats
- Kidney disease
- Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
- Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
- Keeping pets healthy
- Top 10 Cat Conditions
- What’s Ailing Your Cat?
- Your Cat Not Eating or Displays Changes in Eating or Drinking Habits
- Your Cat Is Lethargic
- Your Cat Has Changes in Activity
- Your Cat’s Grooming Habits Change
- You Notice Changes in Coat or Loss of Fur
- Your Cat Is Vomiting Excessively
- Your Cat Is Hiding
- Additional Sick Cat Symptoms
- When to Seek Immediate Care
- Symptoms of a Sick Cat
- Eight Common Causes of Cat Weight Loss
- Feline Weight Loss: When Your Cat Losing Weight Isn’t Normal
The Top 10 Cat Health Problems
Your kitty may look self-sufficient, but she depends on you to keep her in top cat health. That means scheduling regular check-ups and getting her the shots required to guard against cat illnesses. By learning about common ailments, from diarrhea in cats to urinary diseases and more, you’ll be able to spot early warning signs and get your little furball prompt treatment for any condition she may face.
Common Cat Illness No. 1: Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Feline lower urinary tract disease, or FLUTD, encompasses a number of different conditions that can affect a cat’s bladder and urethra. Symptoms include not using the litter box or straining without producing urine, says Bonnie Beaver, DVM, a professor at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University. Other symptoms of FLUTD include excessive licking of the genital area and blood in the urine. If you see these symptoms, and especially if your cat is straining to urinate, see your veterinarian immediately. It could be a sign of a urethral blockage, which can be fatal.
The first step in treating FLUTD is identifying the cause of the symptoms; culprits include bladder stones, infection, urinary tract blockage, and even cancer. Treatment may involve pain medication, antibiotics, and removing or pushing the blockage back into the bladder, says Dr. Beaver. Your vet may also suggest dietary changes or increased water intake to prevent future problems.
Common Cat Illness No. 2: Infectious Diseases
“The most common infections in cats are respiratory in nature,” says Beaver. “Some can be prevented with vaccinations.” Symptoms of upper respiratory infections in cats include runny nose, teary eyes, sneezing, cough, fever, or sores in the mouth. As for treatment, most upper respiratory infections are viral, so there isn’t much you can do, says Beaver. But it’s important to take your pet to the veterinarian for an evaluation since some upper respiratory infections can be fatal.
Another common infectious disease is feline panleukopenia, a highly contagious viral illness caused by the feline parvovirus. Symptoms can include fever, bloody diarrhea, loss of appetite, lethargy, and dehydration. There is no medication that can kill the virus, so treatment usually consists of lots of fluids and watching over the cat’s general health until he can fight off the infection on his own. Kittens under eight weeks of age have little likelihood of survival, so vaccination is crucial to preventing feline panleukopenia.
Common Cat Illness No. 3: Cancer
Lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymph system that can be associated with the feline leukemia virus, is the most common type of cancer in cats. It can be intestinal or in the chest, says Beaver. Another common cancer found in cats, especially white ones, is squamous cell carcinoma.
Symptoms of cancer in cats may include lumps, swelling, persistent skin infections or sores, lethargy, weight loss, sudden lameness, diarrhea or vomiting, and difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating.
Treatment options depend on the type and stage of cancer and may include chemotherapy, surgery (if the cancer is in an operable area), radiation, and immunotherapy. Decisions on cancer treatment for cats can be made with a vet who specializes in oncology.
Common Cat Illness No. 4: Heartworm Disease
“The cat is not a normal host for heartworm,” says Beaver. Some cats might not show any symptoms, while others may have signs such as coughing, respiratory problems, and vomiting. Unfortunately, there is no effective and safe treatment for heartworm in cats — and it can be fatal. The good news, however, is that many cats are able fight it off on their own. In severe cases, a veterinarian may recommend medication to reduce the inflammatory response or surgery to remove the heartworms, which is a very risky procedure. The key, as with dogs, is to regularly give preventive heartworm medication and schedule routine vet check-ups.
Common Cat Illness No. 5: Fleas
Fleas are parasites that feed on your pet’s blood. Some signs that a cat has fleas include scratching, hair loss, and bald patches where the cat licked excessively, says Beaver. You may also be able to see fleas, flea eggs, or flea excretions in your pet’s fur. Treatment involves applying a product designed to kill fleas and prevent egg development. Be sure to use only flea-control products designed for cats, never those for dogs — cats are very sensitive to insecticides and using the wrong product on a cat could have fatal consequences.
Common Cat Illness No. 6: Kidney Disease
Kidney problems in cats reduce their ability to excrete waste into their urine, leading to a dangerous build-up of toxins in the bloodstream. Kidney disease can be caused by a number of factors including high blood pressure, exposure to toxins, infection, kidney stones, and cancer. Age is another factor: Kidney disease is very common in older cats. Symptoms can include decreased appetite, weight loss, vomiting or diarrhea, and lethargy, but some cats do not have symptoms at all. Treatment often starts with pinpointing the cause of the kidney disease and then treating that condition. In severe cases, dialysis or a kidney transplant may be required.
Common Cat Illness No. 7: Dental Disease
Symptoms of dental disease in cats often involve difficulty eating, bad breath, and a change in chewing habits. Bad breath could indicate digestive problems or gingivitis (gum disease). Other signs of dental problems in your cat are discolored, red, or swollen gums, ulcers on the gums or tongue, loose teeth, excessive drooling, or constant pawing at the mouth area.
If you suspect that your cat has dental problems, take her to a veterinarian dentist. For good oral hygiene, brush your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush and toothpaste specially-made for felines, and give her a chew toy to exercise her gums and remove tartar before it hardens.
Common Cat Illness No. 8: Fractures
Contrary to popular belief, cats can get hurt even when they fall from one- or two-story windows. This is because the short distance of the fall does not give them time to adjust their bodies so that they can fall correctly. Signs that your cat may have suffered a fracture include limping or not moving. If your cat falls from a window, rush her to the nearest animal hospital or veterinarian — cats have a high survivability rate if they are treated immediately.
Common Cat Illness No. 9: Vomiting and Diarrhea in Cats
Vomiting and diarrhea in cats is usually associated with something they ate, says Beaver. It could be from eating a food or plant that didn’t agree with them or eating too quickly, or it could be a sign of something more serious, such as an illness or an infection.
An isolated episode of vomiting or diarrhea in cats is usually not a cause for concern. But if you see persistent vomiting, diarrhea with vomiting, diarrhea that lasts for more than a day, or diarrhea accompanied by bloody or black stools (which could indicate internal bleeding of the stomach or intestines), take your pet to the vet immediately.
Treatment usually includes giving fluids to prevent dehydration and not feeding your cat for 12 to 24 hours, followed by a bland diet such as boiled potatoes, cooked rice, and boneless chicken. Your veterinarian may also recommend anti-vomiting medications.
Common Cat Illness No. 10: Obesity
Obesity is a common cat health issue today, and it increases your cat’s risk for a number of ailments such as joint pain, diabetes, and liver problems.
You should be able to feel the backbone and ribs without pressing too hard in cats that are at a healthy weight. From above, you should be able to see a discernible waist between his lower ribs and hips. And when viewing your cat from the side, you should be able to see a tuck in the tummy between the lower ribs and his hips.
“Just being spayed or neutered will decrease caloric need by 30 percent for cats,” says Beaver. Increase exercise as you cut the calories. One great way to get cats moving is to engage them with a toy on a string or another plaything that encourages active movement, says Beaver.
And last but not least, pet owners should modify their own behavior and cut down the number of snacks and treats they give their cat — replace it with love and attention.
Learn more in the Everyday Health Pet Health Center.
My pet isn’t eating well and seems listless. What might be the problem?
Decreased appetite (inappetence) and listlessness (lethargy or lack of energy) are seen with many different diseases and conditions. The first step is to determine if the underlying problem is medical or non-medical in nature.
“Non-medical causes are often associated with stress or anxiety.”
Non-medical causes of inappetence and listlessness are often associated with stress or anxiety. Pets in highly stressful situations may lose interest in food and become withdrawn and appear listless. Events such as moving to a new home, the addition of a new baby or new pet to the household, the absence of a favorite family member, or the loss of a housemate are common non-medical causes of inappetence and lethargy.
“…most pets showing decreased appetite and listlessness have an underlying medical condition.”
Medical causes are far more common, and most pets showing decreased appetite and listlessness have an underlying medical condition. Sometimes the problem is limited to the mouth or esophagus, and pets with these disorders have difficulty grasping, chewing, or swallowing food. Common causes include severe periodontal disease, infections or tumors of the mouth or esophagus, injury to the jaw or tongue, and occasionally nerve damage.
“There are many systemic diseases that cause decreased appetite and listlessness.”
However, in most cases the pet is suffering from “systemic disease”, which is an illness that involves the whole body. There are many systemic diseases that cause decreased appetite and listlessness. A few common ones include heart disease, kidney disease, liver disease, hypothyroidism (underactive thyroid gland), hypoadrenocorticism (failure of the adrenal gland called Addison’s disease), immune-mediated diseases, respiratory disease, gastrointestinal diseases, infectious disease, and cancer.
In addition, pain, certain medications, and some types of toxins may also cause decreased appetite and lethargy.
This list is huge! How can we possibly find out what’s bothering my pet?
The search for answers starts with a complete history and physical examination. A pet’s “history” is the information you give the veterinarian about your pet’s illness. In a pet showing poor appetite and listlessness, this would include details about how long the pet has been ill and whether there have been changes in drinking, urination, and bowel habits. It would be helpful to know if there were any other signs of illness such as coughing, vomiting, or changes in weight. History often helps to narrow down the list of possible diagnoses. For example, an older cat that is losing weight and drinking excessively might have kidney disease, while a middle aged dog that is gaining weight and seems fine otherwise may have an underactive thyroid gland.
A thorough physical examination involves looking at all parts of the body, and typically includes listening to the heart and lungs with a stethoscope and “palpating” the abdomen (gently squeezing or prodding the abdomen with the fingertips to detect abnormalities of the internal organs). Physical examination can sometimes uncover the cause of a pet’s poor appetite and listlessness. For example, the presence of an abnormal heart beat may indicate heart failure; a mass in the abdomen could be a sign of cancer; very pale gums indicates anemia or “thin” blood.
“ provide valuable information about the overall health of your pet…”
Although history and physical examination are important first steps, your veterinarian may recommend doing screening tests. These are simple tests that provide valuable information about the overall health of your pet and often provide clues about the underlying problem.
What screening tests are recommended?
The most common screening tests include complete blood count (CBC), serum biochemistry profile, and urinalysis.
What can these screening tests tell us?
(a) The CBC (complete blood count) provides information about the three different cell types in the blood. These are: red blood cells, which carry oxygen to the tissues, white blood cells, which fight infection and respond to inflammation, and platelets, which help the blood to clot. The CBC provides details about the number, size, and shape of the various cells types, and identifies the presence of abnormal cells (see article Complete Blood Count).
In a pet with decreased appetite and listlessness, some changes that might be seen on the CBC include:
- anemia or “thin” blood (low hemoglobin levels; not enough red blood cells). This could indicate a bleeding disorder, immune mediated disease, nutritional problems, or longstanding “systemic” disease which is affecting many different body systems at the same time.
- abnormal numbers of white blood cells. Increases or occasionally decreases in the numbers of white blood cells could indicate underlying inflammation or infection.
- signs of bone marrow disease. Very high or very low numbers of blood cells together with the presence of abnormal cells in the blood could signal bone marrow disease including leukemia (bone marrow cancer).
(b) Serum biochemistry refers to the chemical analysis of serum, which is the pale yellow liquid part of blood that remains after the cells and clotting factorshave been removed. Serum contains many substances including enzymes, proteins, lipids (fats), glucose (sugar), hormones, electrolytes, and metabolic waste products. Testing for these substances provides information about the health of various organs and tissues in the body, as well as the metabolic state of the animal (see article Serum Biochemistry). Changes and abnormalities in the biochemistry profile can indicate the presence of specific diseases and can provide clues about other problems.
In a pet that is not eating and seems listless, the serum biochemistry may show changes such as:
- increased levels of urea and creatinine, suggesting underlying kidney disease.
- an elevated glucose level (blood sugar), usually an sign of diabetes mellitus (“sugar diabetes”), especially in a dog.
- decreased levels of glucose, albumin and urea, possibly indicating liver failure.
- increased levels of liver enzymes, suggesting liver damage.
“Urinalysis is important for the proper interpretation of the serum biochemistry profile.”
(c) Urinalysis is a simple test that analyses the physical and chemical composition of urine. It measures how well the kidneys are working, identifies inflammation and infection in the urinary system, and helps to detect diabetes and other metabolic disturbances. Urinalysis is important for the proper interpretation of the serum biochemistry profile and should be done at the same time as blood testing (See article Urinalysis).
In a pet that is listless and not eating well, the urinalysis may show signs of:
- kidney disease
- bladder infection
- cancer of the kidneys, bladder, or reproductive system.
Will further testing be required?
Screening tests may provide a diagnosis but further testing will likely be recommended. Depending on the results of a pet’s history, physical examination and screening tests, some of these additional tests could include:
- serum thyroxine (total T4) test in dogs suspected of having hypothyroidism (low thyroid function)
- pancreatic specific lipase immunoreactivity (PLI) if pancreatitis is suspected, especially in cats.
- ACTH stimulation test if the screening tests suggest hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s disease – See handouts on Addison’s disease and ACTH testing).
- liver function tests such as pre and post prandial serum bile acid test if liver damage is suspected.
Additional testing may involve:
- X-rays or ultrasound to evaluate the heart lungs, liver, kidneys, pancreas, or bowel, and to look for cancer
- bacterial culture and sensitivity to detect bacterial infections
- tests for specific infectious diseases such as Feline Leukemia Virus or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus in cats or Lyme’s disease in dogs
- tests for immune mediated disease
- tests for anemia such as fecal occult blood, blood iron studies, bone marrow evaluation
Contributors: Kristiina Ruotsalo, DVM, DVSc, Dip ACVP & Margo S. Tant BSc, DVM, DVSc © Copyright 2016 Lifelearn Inc. Used and/or modified with permission under license.
Low energy (lethargy) in cats
Why is my cat suddenly so lethargic?
Lethargy in cats can be a symptom of many different conditions. We’ve listed some of the more common causes below:
Just like humans, cats can pick up viruses that make them feel poorly and lethargic.
Arthritis is a painful condition of the joints that can make moving around difficult. Arthritis is much more common in older cats.
Being overweight puts extra strain on joints and the heart and often causes lethargy.
Both cystitis (bladder inflammation) and bacterial cystitis (bladder infection or UTI) make a cat feel very unwell.
Kidney disease causes waste products to build up in the bloodstream and make your cat feel very poorly. Kidney disease can come on quickly or gradually.
Diabetes often causes lethargy at the same time as weight loss and extreme hunger and thirst.
Anaemia is a low number of red blood cells – red blood cells transport oxygen around the body. Anaemia can cause your cat to feel weak and lethargic.
Stress in cats can lead to many health issues and can cause them to withdraw. Cats are quite prone to stress.
Heart problems lead to poor circulation and often causes lethargy.
Cancer, although much rarer than other causes in this list, often makes a cat feel lethargic (as well as many other symptoms).
Toxins or poisons
Exposure to toxins or poisons, rat poison for example, can cause severe illness (and be a possible cause of lethargy).
Should I Worry if My Cat’s Poop Has Blood or Mucus?
We all do it. We do it every time we change the litter or hear the call of compacted clay being clawed. I’m talking about inspecting our cat’s poop. We humans are inexplicably interested in monitoring our companion animal’s eliminations. And that’s a good thing. Identifying a “bathroom problem” early can prevent more serious complications and restore health to an ailing kitty. According to the petinsurance.com, “intestinal upset/diarrhea” was the sixth top medical condition of cats in 2015. One of the most common intestinal irregularities cat parents report is blood or mucus in the stool. Should you worry if you spot beads of blood or mounds of mucus in the litter box? Let’s find out.
What does normal cat poop look like?
Tootsie-Rolls. Yes, I went there. Normal cat poops are about two to three inches long, one-half inch in diameter, well-formed, and brown to tan in color. If you’re wondering, researchers at the U.K.’s Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition published a handy illustrated “Faeces Scoring System” you should check out. If your cat has abnormal stools, you can “grade” the feces. Grading the fecal quality and estimating the quantity can help your veterinarian more quickly, and correctly, diagnose your cat’s condition.
Most cats defecate once daily. The odor shouldn’t knock you out. You should be able to pick up the stool without it running through your fingers (if you’re into picking up poop by hand). I’ll leave it at that. They make litter box utensils, if you’re wondering. And gloves, if you insist on handling these sorts of things.
What does blood look like in my cat’s poop?
Blood in a cat’s poop can be challenging to identify. For starters, litter can sometimes alter the color and conceal – or create – changes in appearance. If the blood originates in the lower intestinal tract, especially the distal colon (large intestine) or rectal region, it will most likely look like, well, blood. Red or pink drops or smears are frequently discovered on the sides of the litter box and on top of the stool or litter.
Blood from higher in the intestinal tract, particularly the small intestine, will be black or brown. This color change is due to partial digestion by enzymes secreted in the small intestine. This blood will often appear as dark flecks, specks, or coffee grounds.
It’s important to note that both constipation and diarrhea can cause blood in the stool of cats. Bright red blood without either diarrhea or hard, dry stools generally indicates the problem is closer to the rectum and anus.
What about mucus in poop?
Slimy. Slippery. Yucky. These are all terms I’ve heard from cat parents describing excessive mucus in their cat’s stool. Mucus is a normal secretion of the intestinal tract to help lubricate and moisten the linings and facilitate fecal passage. It’s not unusual to observe some greasy or slick coatings on your cat’s feces. It is abnormal to see lots of slimy, often clear to pale yellow-green liquid accompanying your cat’s bowel movements. Fecal mucus is an example of “more is worse.”
What causes blood or mucus in my cat’s poop?
There can be many causes of blood or mucus in a cat’s poop. Some common reasons include:
- Dietary changes and food intolerance
- Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD)
- Intestinal parasites such as Giardia
- Trauma or abscess
- Rectal polyps or tumors
- Anal gland abscess or infection
- Constipation or idiopathic feline megacolon
- Poisons or toxins
What should I do if I see blood or mucus in my cat’s poop?
Any changes in your cat’s bowel movements should be reported to your veterinarian immediately. Today’s constipation can become tomorrow’s intestinal obstruction. This morning’s loose stool can lead to dehydrating diarrhea overnight. Blood in the stool, red or black, is always concerning. Digested dark blood can signal a serious condition while red blood can be anything from benign food changes to cancer.
What will my veterinarian do to determine the cause of the blood or mucus in my cat’s poop?
Most of these problems can be diagnosed on medical history, physical examination, and microscopic fecal evaluation. Your veterinarian will search for blood, parasites, bacteria, and other indicators of the cause. In more serious cases, x-rays, ultrasound, and blood and urine tests will be conducted. Treatment will be based on the exact diagnosis.
If you notice anything odd in your cat’s poop, don’t delay; seek veterinary help. I’ve seen too many cats too late to help, simply because their guardian hoped it would resolve on its own. My best advice is keep spying on your cat’s litter box. You don’t have to tell anybody; your secret is safe with me.
If you’re not sure, ask your veterinarian – he or she will be your best resource in determining which toys and objects are safe for your cat and can also give you advice on how to prevent your cat from eating strange objects.
Your cat’s bathroom habits may not be the first topic you want to talk about or even pay attention to for that matter. But what if you see that there is blood in their stool? Now this symptom would probably raise some concern for you, and that’s for a good reason. In a normal healthy cat, blood should not be present in your cat’s poop or any other regular bathroom business. If it is, there may be an underlying problem your cat is suffering from that you are unaware of.
The sooner you can identify a bathroom problem with your furry friend the faster you can get them to the vet to find out what’s wrong with them. Even though it might be an alarming symptom, the presence of blood in cat’s stool is actually a fairly common occurrence according to pet owners. With that being said, however, it is something that needs to be checked out by a veterinarian.
Unless your cat has done their business outside or in an area other than their litter box, identifying blood in cat poop can actually be difficult. Cat litter can make analyzing your cat’s stool more challenging, especially if it has been a few hours since they have gone to the bathroom.
If your cat’s issue is caused by a problem in the lower intestinal tract, the blood will appear bright red and in smears or droplets. If the problem is coming from the small intestine, it will be brown or black in color. For issues regarding the small intestines, blood will resemble coffee grounds.
Now that you have a general idea of what to look for, it’s time to learn about all the possible causes that can lead to blood in your cat’s stool. If your cat has blood in his poop and you don’t know why it’s highly advised to take him in for a thorough check-up with your veterinarian. Even though his problem can be something as minor as diarrhea, it can also be something more serious that requires professional veterinary care.
What Causes Blood in Cat’s Stool?
As said before, there are many possible causes for blood in cat’s stool, some being more severe than others. Keep in mind that depending on what’s causing the problem, some cats may experience pain while defecating. Some of the most common problems that can affect your kitty’s bathroom habits can include:
It is not uncommon for your cat to have a difficult time going to the bathroom. It is actually one of the most likely health problems in animals associated with the digestive system. When a cat is healthy, they will defecate at least once a day. If you notice your cat skipping a day or two, straining while trying to go, or can only go a small amount after persistent effort, that probably means your cat is constipated. Keep in mind that this condition is common and will not need immediate medical attention unless your cat is also exhibiting other concerning symptoms.
If your constipated cat is not improving on its own, take him to the veterinarian. Through a thorough examination and possible fecal sample, your vet will be able to rule out all other potential health problems that may be more severe. For minor cases, vets will often recommend a stool softener or laxative to alleviate the constipation. If this issue is caused by an obstruction in the bowels, a surgical procedure may be necessary.
Bleeding will normally result if a cat has been injured in the rectum or anus area. If this is the case for your cat, you will notice fresh blood in his stool when he goes to the bathroom. Along with his bleeding, you can expect other symptoms to be present, such as pain or discomfort. Rectal polyps is also another issue that can cause similar symptoms to occur. These abnormal growths form in the small intestine and can restrict stool from passing through, causing serious pain for your furry feline. Do not expect polyps to clear up on their own. The only way a cat will be alleviated of their symptoms is through professional veterinary care.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is known as chronic inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract (specifically the stomach, small intestine, and large intestine), which can lead to vomiting and diarrhea. Aside from these two factors, some cats will also experience lethargy, depression, weight loss, gas, and abdominal pain. Although there is no single known cause of this condition, many professionals think IBD is the result of either a food allergy or a hypersensitivity to bacteria.
Once you go to the vet to get your cat checked out, they will want to know about your pet’s complete medical history and any prior symptoms that may be present. Some possible testing that may be run can include a total blood count, urine or fecal analysis, and a biochemistry profile. Although IBD cannot be completely cured, your vet can still provide medication that will help to alleviate some of your cat’s symptoms.
Giardia is one of the most common intestinal parasites that can inflict your feline. Cats can either get giardia directly or indirectly, but they are usually exposed to these foreign bodies when they come into contact with contaminated feces from an infected source. Once the parasite is in the body, it travels to the small intestines where it wreaks havoc on the digestive system. If you assume your cat has parasites, your vet will need to complete a full exam to see what type of parasite is present.
Your vet will recommend specific drugs that will help to rid the body of its parasites. During this period, it is also recommended to bathe your cat often until he is completely free of his parasites. Depending on the parasite and severity of the case, your vet may recommend further treatment plans or other testing. Even though it can be difficult to completely prevent exposure to another parasite infection down the road, it is highly recommended to keep your cat away from kennels or other locations that have a high concentration of other animals.
Did you know that cats have sensitive stomachs? They are also finicky eaters which can make finding them the right food a little more difficult than you might have anticipated. Even if your cat has been eating one brand of food, switching to a different one may cause your cat to develop an upset stomach and show other symptoms as well. If you are changing to one brand or type of food to another, it is always recommended to make the transition by slowly adding in the new product with the old product. That way your cat will be able to adjust to the new ingredients little by little without having to adapt to a new formula all at once.
If a cat has a food intolerance, their GI tract will be very irritated and they will experience excessive vomiting or diarrhea anytime they consume that specific ingredient. Cats can develop a food intolerance to any ingredient in their cat food. Some common culprits include soy, wheat gluten, corn, lamb, or dairy. Unfortunately, finding out which element is causing your cat issues can be quite the difficult challenge. Your vet will be able to do a thorough analysis of your cat’s health to conclude a proper diagnosis. From there, you will need to change your cat’s diet to alleviate their symptoms.
Colitis or inflammation of the colon can be caused by a wide range of sources including bacterial infections or inflammatory bowel disease. Depending on the severity of the issue and the underlying cause, colitis can be short-term, off and on, or long-term in duration. Cats with colitis will normally have diarrhea with fresh blood within their stool. Other common symptoms with this condition are straining to defecate and an increased urgency/frequency of trips to the litter box.
After running a series of tests on your cat’s abdomen and overall health, your vet will be able to diagnose that their issue is in fact due to colitis. Depending on the cause, your vet will recommend a specific treatment plan that caters to your cat’s needs. The purpose of these medications is to get your pet’s bowel movements back to normal, reduce inflammation in their colon, and mitigate their diarrhea or vomiting issue.
Consuming Human Food
We all know that human food should not be fed to our furry companions, but does it really hurt if we give them just a little? Unfortunately, the answer is yes. While some foods such as boiled potato or cooked chicken are completely fine, some human foods can do a number on their stomachs, causing discomfort, diarrhea, and vomiting.
One of the most common food items that cause your cat to become sick is milk. This may be a surprise to you because most people assume cats are a big fan of a little warm milk. Cats beyond their kitten years should avoid dairy products at all cost since most of them are lactose intolerant. Talk to your veterinarian before feeding your cat any food that is not their usual chow mix.
Diagnosing Blood in Cat’s Stool
If your cat’s issue is not getting better on its own after a day or two, take them in for further testing with a professional. No matter what is causing your cat’s problems, a complete health exam is the only way your cat will be able to be properly diagnosed. From there, your vet will start off the diagnosis process with several exams including a microscopic fecal examination and blood work. This is the perfect opportunity to inform your vet of all prior symptoms or issues your cat has been suffering from thus far. Make sure to also inform them if your cat has recently had a change in diet or intolerance to specific products.
In the case that your vet assumes your cat’s condition is due to parasites or other intestinal infestations, they will need to run a fecal smear. This test will help to identify any lingering parasites that may be present in your cat’s stool. By examining your cat’s prior health history, their recent physical testing, and current symptoms, they will be able to accurately diagnose your cat’s issue and provide a recommended treatment plan.
Treatment for Blood in Cat Stool
The treatment depends on the underlying issue that is causing your cat’s problems. If the problem is due to parasites, your vet will recommend specific prescription medication that will kill off the infestation. If this is the problem for your cat, it is especially important to follow the treatment plan throughout the entire recommended course. If you cut the treatment short, you are putting your cat at risk for becoming reinfested.
In the case that your cat is suffering from a food intolerance, your vet will recommend switching to a bland diet until their symptoms have disappeared. From there, you will need to slowly add in a regular cat food diet to see if that product is safe for your pet. If you don’t know which food brand you should be feeding your pet, talk to your veterinarian for recommended products.
In severe cases where your cat has some type of trauma, infection, or disease, your vet may need to take a more hands-on approach. If your pet is dehydrated from excessive diarrhea or vomiting, they may put them on an IV to replenish their fluids.
No one ever wants their furry friend in pain. That’s why when you see your cat bleeding while going to the bathroom, you begin to worry. If your cat has blood in his stool, do not panic. Although it may be an alarming symptom to see, digestive issues are very common, which will usually result in blood in your cat’s stool. Of course, it depends on the underlying issue, but most cats have a very good prognosis once he has been checked out by a veterinarian and given medication for their problem.
Since there are so many possible causes of blood in cat stool, it is highly advised to seek professional help. This is especially important if your cat is experiencing other symptoms such as vomiting, lethargy, or generalized weakness. If your cat is experiencing any of these symptoms, the best thing you can do as their owner is to talk to your veterinarian for guidance.
Top 6 Causes of Blood in Your Dog or Cats Stool
Blood in the stool of your dog or cat can be a very scary thing to see. In humans, this is often a serious issue. However, bloody stool of dogs or cats can be from a variety of causes, not all of them serious. It is helpful to determine if the stool has blood mixed within it or is only streaked on the surface, and if it is normal or soft. These clues will help your veterinarian determine what may be happening. The following is a list of the six most common causes of bloody stool in dogs and cats.
- Parasites are the most common cause of bloody stool in puppies and kittens. Different parts of the world will have different parasites and risk of exposure to your pet. All puppies and kittens should receive deworming medication every two weeks until they are fourteen weeks old to help with roundworm infection.
- Cancer in dogs and cats is most commonly seen when they are older and can also cause blood in their stool. These pets might also have a difficult time passing stool or pass flattened stools.
- Anal sac abscesses can cause blood on the stool of both cats and dogs of any age. The anal glands are scent glands that are found between the muscles of the anal sphincter at 5 and 7 o’clock when you look at the anus. They have small ducts that pass scent material onto the stool when they have a bowel movement. Blood from an infected gland will sometimes be seen on the outside of the stool. These pets will often scoot their bum on the ground or lick excessively when they are having a problem. These pets should be seen right away to help them with this painful condition.
- Dietary indiscretion (aka garbage gut) is more common in dogs than cats, but the irritation or damage to the colon caused by what they have eaten will sometimes cause blood in the stool of your dog or cat.
- Inflammatory bowel disease in both dogs and cats will often cause diarrhea with or without bloody stool. This is similar to Crohn’s disease in humans. The lining of the intestines becomes inflamed and damaged, causing bleeding. There are many things that cause inflammatory bowel disease and the exact diagnosis may require extensive testing.
- Stress can cause bloody stool in dogs more often than cats. This may be a pet that has an underlying disease that worsened by the stressful event and should be examined by a veterinarian.
The Top 10 Most Common Health Problems For Cats
Most people would consider owning a cat a pretty low maintenance endeavor. That’s because cats are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to most things, but like all pets, they too are susceptible to certain health issues.
And if you own a cat or are considering adopting one, there are some health problems that are more common than others.
Here are 10 of the most common health problems for cats:
1) Lower Urinary Tract Disease
The condition known as FLUTD or Feline lower urinary tract disease consists of several different conditions that can affect your cat’s urethra and bladder. When cats are suffering from this condition, it can be very painful and there are a variety of ways it can present itself. If you notice any of these signs, you’ll want to get your cat to the vet immediately because this condition may become life-threatening.
Here are the common symptoms:
- Not using the litter box or going in unusual places.
- Straining without producing urine – this could be serious if it means the urethra is blocked.
- Excessive and unrelenting licking of the genital area
- Blood in the urine.
Here are the most common treatments:
The first step is to clearly identify the problem, for example, it could be bladder stones, an infection, a urinary tract blockage or even some type of cancer.
Here are some potential treatments:
- Pain medication to bring relief while your cat heals
- Removing or pushing the blockage back into the bladder.
- Changing their diet
- Encouraging them to drink more water by positioning bowls throughout your home.
Having something like a cat litter box mat for their litter area can help reduce litter tracking and improve their overall health and cleanliness.
2) Infectious Diseases
For most cats, the most common infectious disease involves the respiratory system the second most common is feline panleukopenia.
Here are the typical symptoms of upper respiratory infections:
- A continuous runny nose.
- Drippy or teary eyes.
- Frequent Sneezing.
- A persistent cough.
- Ongoing Fever.
- Visible sores in the mouth.
There really are no viable treatments for upper respiratory infections, however, if you notice any of the above signs and symptoms a visit to the vet is warranted.
In the case of, feline panleukopenia, the first thing to understand is that it is a highly contagious viral illness. The best treatment is prevention and it is highly recommended that you get your cat, especially kittens, vaccinated early on
Here are the common symptoms:
- Ongoing Fever.
- Bloody diarrhea.
- Loss of appetite or poor eating habits.
- Lethargy or sleeping more than usual
Unfortunately, at the present time, there are no known medical treatments effective against the virus. The best course of action is to isolate your cat, so it doesn’t infect others while monitoring their health. Also, make sure they are properly hydrated and fed while they recover.
Just like humans, cats are susceptible to a wide variety of cancers. In cats, the two most common are lymphosarcoma and feline leukemia virus. Lymphosarcoma affects the lymph system in the intestines or the chest. Cats are also susceptible to squamous cell carcinoma.
- Lumps, or bumps in the lymph nodes or other areas of the body
- Swelling and edema
- Sores or skin infections that recur or never fully heal
- Lethargy and/or sleeping more than usual.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Sudden lameness or inability to move around
- Difficulty breathing
Just like in humans, cancer treatments for cats can vary and the potential options can change based on the type of cancer they have and how advanced it is. There are vets that specialize in this area and new treatments are coming out all the time, so an expert opinion is recommended. But here are a few of the most common treatment options.
- Traditional Chemotherapy.
- Surgery (if the cancer is in an operable area)
- Radiation Treatment
Heartworm is less common in cats and many cats don’t often show outward signs or symptoms. When cats are symptomatic, they will experience bouts of coughing, respiratory problems, and vomiting. Unfortunately, if your cat gets heartworm there are no safe or effective treatments, however, some cats can recover. Prevention is always the best way to go, but if your cat develops heartworm your vet may offer two potential treatment options.
- Medication to reduce the inflammatory response.
- Surgery to remove the heartworms – a very risky procedure for your pet to endure.
Fleas can be a big problem for pets and while they aren’t necessarily a health problem in and of themselves they can create a variety of health issues.
Here are the common signs.
- Persistent scratching.
- Patches of hair loss.
- Flea eggs in your pet’s hair
- Flea excretions, otherwise known as flea dirt.
- Insecticides to treat the home and general areas
- Use flea-control products designed for cats only
6) Kidney Disease
Kidney problems are very common in cats and can quickly lead to fatal health problems. Cats develop kidney problems for a variety of reason, here are a few of them.
- High blood pressure can damage the kidneys
- Exposure to toxins, these can be environmental or something around the house
- Persistent Infections
- Kidney stones
- Various Types of Cancer
While some cats don’t show outward signs of kidney disease when symptoms are present here are the most common:
- A general decrease in appetite
- Unexplained and often rapid weight loss.
- Lethargy and/or sleeping more than usual
In severe cases of kidney disease there are two options:
- Kidney transplant
7) Dental Disease
Issues with your cat’s teeth and gums can be lead to a variety of other health issues as it affects their ability to eat. In addition to trouble with the food here are some other signs and symptoms of dental disease.
- Bad breath – could be from other digestive issues as well as gum problems.
- Changes in the way your cat chews
- Discolored, red, or swollen gums.
- Ulcers along the gumline or on the tongue.
- Loose or missing teeth.
- Excessive drooling.
- Constant pawing of their mouth.
A vet will be better able to assess the problem. However, prevention is always the best way to deal with dental problems.
- Brush your cat’s teeth with a toothbrush at least monthly if not weekly.
- Use a toothpaste designed for cats
- Give your cat a chew toy or something that will exercise their teeth and gums
- Remove tartar before it hardens with regular cleaning.
While cats are known to have nine lives, they are still susceptible to injuries when falling or jumping from high places. The sooner a fracture is identified and treated the easier it will be to heal. Even with something as seemingly obvious as a fracture, some cats can still hide it.
Here are some sign that your cat may have suffered a fracture.
- Obvious limping or a change in the way they walk
- Not moving at all
- Avoiding high places or not jumping at all
9) Vomiting and Diarrhea
Cats can be very sensitive to food changes or anything they ingest. That’s why vomiting, and diarrhea can be so common. If you do notice persistent diarrhea or vomiting here are some of the possible causes.
- Eating a plant with rough edges that can irritate the stomach.
- Eating too quickly.
- Eating expired food or food that has gone bad
An occasional bought of vomiting or diarrhea in cats is nothing to be too concerned about, but if it becomes persistent it can lead to other health problems.
- Persistent vomiting or diarrhea lasting more than 1 day.
- Diarrhea with vomiting, this can quickly lead to dehydration
If the diarrhea is black or bloody in nature, it could also be a sign of internal bleeding of the stomach or intestines. This is serious and should be evaluated by a vet immediately.
- Hydrating your cat, both vomiting and diarrhea can quickly lead to dehydration
- Not feeding your cat for 12 to 24 hours can give their digestive system a rest.
- Changing their diet to a bland diet such as boiled potatoes, cooked rice, and boneless chicken.
- Anti-vomiting medications.
Obesity can be a real problem for cats, especially indoor cats. It can also be a huge risk factor for a variety of health problems including joint problems, diabetes, kidney and liver problems.
Keeping a close eye on your cat’s weight will go a long way in preventing any potential problems. If you your cat is overweight here are a few potential solutions.
- Spaying or Neutering your cat can decrease their appetite
- Increase their activities, even playing with them for 10-15 minutes a few times each day can help.
- Cut their overall calories and don’t leave food out.
And while there are a variety of other health issues cats can develop, these 10 are some of the most common you’ll see. The more familiar you are with them the easier it will be to identify them and treat them effectively.
Updated March 5, 2019: Pets are important members of our families, and they make our lives whole. Since they make us happy and healthy, it is especially heartbreaking when they are sick and in pain because we can feel helpless to make them feel better. Cats make up approximately thirty to thirty-seven percent of the pets in American households, and since more than thirty-five percent of cats are acquired as strays (with an estimated 70 million living as strays in the U.S.), it’s imperative we protect our domesticated cats from disease.
One of the best ways to protect yourself financially from big veterinarian bills is by getting pet insurance. Learn more about pet insurance here.
These are some of the most prevalent cat dieases. Since cats can catch these eight illnesses from other cats in your house, on the street, or in the shelter, it’s important to keep an eye on them and take them to the vet if they start exhibiting any odd symptoms or behavior.
Here are some basic ways to tell if your cat is sick.
Symptoms: dry coat, weight loss, bad breath, drooling, increased urination and thirst
While kidney disease can affect all cats of age and breed, it is especially found in cats seven years of age and older and long-haired breeds like Persians and Angoras. Acute renal failure can also occur if your cat ingests a toxic substance like antifreeze, pesticides, or human medications like ibuprofen.
“What heart disease is for humans, kidney disease is for felines – a leading cause of suffering and death,” says Dr. Roberta Relford, chief medical officer of IDEXX Laboratories. “As they get older, the likelihood they will develop kidney disease increases.”
If you suspect your cat has kidney disease, take her to the vet immediately so she can get blood and urine tests. If the kidney damage is due to a urinary-tract blockage, she will be admitted for surgery so the blockage can be removed, but if it’s due to obstruction, she will be given hydration therapy, medication, and kidney-friendly diets to treat the disease over time. The best way to treat kidney disease is to catch it early. Dr. Relford says SDMA, a test that screens for kidney disease, is available to all vets in U.S. and Canada and can detect kidney disease months to years earlier than if you wait to see until she’s old or until you see symptoms.
Kidney disease can be expensive to treat, especially if you don’t have pet insurance. Here’s what to do.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Symptoms: weight loss, dry coat, skin disease, diarrhea
FIV (related to HIV, but species specific to felines) is transferred by bite wounds, and once it enters the bloodstream and attacks the immune system, it is fatal. What’s more, FIV is classified as a lentivirus, or “slow virus,” so infected cats can look normal for years as the virus slowly weakens his immune system. Although most vets check for FIV when your cat is a kitten, most FIV tests taper off as your cat grows older so you should request a checkup annually, especially if he’s exhibiting signs of the disease. To prevent your feline from contracting FIV, keep him indoors away from territorial and feral cats and keep him up-to-date on vaccines.
If you think your cat has FIV, take him to the vet so an antibody test can be administered to know for sure. If he does have FIV, he should be confined indoors so he cannot spread it to other cats or animals, spayed if he isn’t already, fed a healthy diet, and frequently taken to the vet for checkups. Although thoughts on specific life expectancy and how to handle a FIV-infected cat vary from vet to vet, most vets agree FIV does harshly impact and shorten a cat’s life.
Symptoms: increased urination and thirst, weight loss, vomiting, plantigrade stance (when your cat walks on her rear hocks instead of her toes)
Both types of diabetes are common in cats and appear to be on the rise because cats are living longer, are more likely to be obese, and eat high carb diets. Type 1 is less common and occurs when there is a lack of insulin while type 2 is more common and occurs when there is a resistance to insulin. Although there are two different types of diabetes, treatment is generally the same.
To determine if your cat has high levels of glucose, and, ultimately, diabetes, your vet will run urine and blood tests. If your cat has diabetes, she will need to have insulin injections twice daily and her diet and weight will be heavily monitored. To keep her on a healthy track over time and hopefully get her into a diabetic remission, take her regularly to the vet for checkups, monitor her blood and urine at home, and get her on a high protein/low carb diet.
If you aren’t sure if your pet is healthy or not, here are some ways to tell.
Symptoms: diarrhea, skin disease, bladder infection, infertility
Leukemia is cancer of the white blood cells, and is spread through a virus found in saliva and urine. Cats that are the greatest risk of contracting it are those who live with or come in close contact with infected cats — cats transfer the virus via shared bowls or fighting or even the mother’s placenta.
To determine if your cat has leukemia, a virus test will be administered depending on which stage of infection you’re dealing with. Sadly, leukemia is often fatal in cats. Even cats with forms of leukemia that do respond to chemotherapy have an average survival rate of less than a year. Because there is no cure, the best way to keep your cat from contracting leukemia is by maintaining regular vet visits, getting her vaccinated, and keeping her away from infected cats and animals.
Symptoms: fever, weight loss, hyperactivity, aggression, muscle spasms, drooling
Rabies is a viral infection that is spread by a bite or saliva from an infected animal, and once the virus enters the body, it attacks your cat’s nerves, spinal cord, and brain and is fatal. Because of its severity and because it’s spread easily from animals to humans, many cities, states, vets, and groomers require cats to be vaccinated.
And if you thought rabies primarily affected dogs, you’d be wrong. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cats are more likely to be reported rabid: “Cats are often in close contact with both humans and wild animals, including those that primarily transmit rabies.”
Unfortunately, there is no treatment for cats once they contract rabies, and it is fatal. The best way to prevent it is getting her vaccinated and keeping her from rabid wildlife.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Symptoms: weight loss, lethargy, fever
FIP is a disease caused by a feline coronavirus (FCoV) and is transmitted through feces. FIP has two forms – wet and dry. The wet form causes buildup in the chest, resulting in abdominal distension or respiratory problems. The dry form creates inflammatory lesions called pyogranulomas throughout the body, affecting vital organs and systems like the kidneys, liver, and nervous system. FIP primarily affects young cats under the age of two and is often fatal.
Unfortunately, preventing your cat from contracting FIP and even diagnosing him is difficult due to limited research and study. There are no screen tests to verify infection, and although a vaccination is available, it is not recommended due to its limited evidence of success.. Until more studies are conducted, the only treatment for FIP is palliative care, helping your cat feel as normal and comfortable as possible until euthanasia is chosen.
Symptoms: coughing, vomiting, weight loss, seizures
Heartworm is a dangerous and sometimes fatal disease that infects your cat’s heart and lungs. It’s spread by mosquitoes and has been reported in all fifty states, regardless of weather and climate.
The American Heartworm Society says heartworms are harder to detect in cats than in dogs (in fact, sometimes the first sign of heartworm in cats is sudden collapse or death). Cats should be screened, tested, and prescribed preventative medicine in order to thwart a heartworm infection. Unfortunately, unlike dogs, there is no drug used to treat heartworm infection in cats, so a long-term plan of proper vet care and maintaining monthly preventatives (like pills, topicals, or shots) is key. You can order popular heartworm treatments on sites like Chewy.com.
Symptoms: vomiting, diarrhea, increased urination and thirst, dry coat, change in appetite, heart disease
Hyperthyroidism comes from an overproduction of thyroid hormones, increasing the metabolic rate of your cat’s body and putting stress on her kidneys, heart, liver, and other vital organs. If left untreated, it can be fatal.
To find out if your cat has hyperthyroidism, your vet will conduct a physical exam, checking for enlarged glands and checking her heart rate and blood pressure. If she does have the disease, you have three options on how you want to treat it: medication, surgery, or radioactive-iodine therapy. While medication like anti-thyroid drugs and surgery are important treatments, radioactive-iodine therapy is quickly becoming the most popular form because of its low risk, high success, and lack of side effects.
Keeping pets healthy
Dr. Denise Petryk, DVM and in-house veterinarian for Trupanion, says although some health issues and diseases are out of your control, the best way to keep your cat healthy is by seeing your vet at least once a year for a regular checkup, requesting routine blood and urine testing after he’s seven years old, discussing nutrition with your vet and keeping an eye on your cat’s diet and weight, and keeping him active.
Learn more about how to keep all those checkup costs low here.
By keeping your cat inside and away from unknown feral cats and maintaining regular vet visits and a healthy diet, you’ll reduce his chances of getting sick, making the most of his nine lives.
Disclosure: This post contains references to products or services from one or more of our advertisers or partners. While these codes earn us a small fee at no additional cost to you, we only refer products we love.
Image: Clark Young
Top 10 Cat Conditions
What’s Ailing Your Cat?
Cats may have nine lives, but you want to make sure kitty hangs on to all of them for as long as she can. No matter how much love and care you give your furry companion, things happen. But by knowing how to recognize the most common conditions affecting cats, you may just be able to save your pet’s life.
10. Hyperthyroidism. The most likely cause of hyperthyroidism is a benign tumor on the thyroid gland, which will cause the gland to secrete too much of the hormone. Take your cat to the vet if it starts drinking and peeing a lot, shows aggressive and jittery behavior, suddenly seems hyperactive, vomits and/or loses weight while eating more than usual.
Treatment depends on other medical conditions but can range from using drugs to regulate the overactive gland, surgical removal of the gland, and even radioactive treatment to destroy the tumor and diseased thyroid tissue.
9. Upper Respiratory Virus. If your kitty is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, has runny eyes or nose, seems congested and has mouth and nose ulcers, chances are it has an upper respiratory virus. The two main forms of the virus are the feline herpesvirus and calicivirus. Once at the vet’s office, the cat may receive nose drops, eye ointments and antibacterial medication, especially if it has a secondary infection.
8. Ear Infection. Ear infections in cats have many causes. These might include mites, bacteria, fungi, diabetes, allergies and reactions to medication; some breeds are also more susceptible to ear infections than others. So it’s definitely a good idea to have your kitty checked if it’s showing symptoms such as ear discharge, head shaking, swollen ear flaps, stinky ears and ultra sensitivity to ears being touched. Treatment, of course, depends on the cause, but will include eardrops, ear cleaning, ear and oral medications and in severe cases, surgery.
7. Colitis/Constipation. Colitis is a fancy word for inflammation of the large intestine. While the most obvious sign of colitis is diarrhea, sometimes it will hurt the cat to poop. Thus, in trying to hold it in, the cat may develop constipation.
There are many causes of colitis, including bacteria, fungi, viruses, allergies and parasites, among other diseases. Signs include straining to poop, lack of appetite, dehydration and vomiting. Your vet will test for the underlying cause and treat it accordingly. This may include a more fiber-rich diet, de-worming, antibiotics, laxatives and/or fluids.
6. Diabetes. Like humans, cats suffer from diabetes, too, though this is usually seen in older, overweight cats. Symptoms include increased thirst and peeing, peeing outside the litter box, lethargy and depression.
While causes of feline diabetes are not really known, there is a link with diabetes and being overweight. Treatment, therefore, includes daily health monitoring, diet changes, exercise, and depending on the cat’s needs, either daily oral medications or injections.
5. Skin Allergies. Kitties, like you, are known to suffer from allergies, although their allergies show on the skin. If your cat scratches, or chews on its skin a lot, has a rash or loses hair in patches, a trip to the vet is a good idea.
Causes of skin allergies vary from reactions to food, fleas, pollens, mites, and even mold and mildew. Treatments may include allergy shots, diet changes, medication and antihistamines.
4. Intestinal Inflammation/Diarrhea. Diarrhea is a sure sign of an intestinal inflammation. It affects either the cat’s small or large intestine and may due to a variety of factors, including diet changes, eating contraband foodstuffs, allergies, bacteria overgrowth, worms and even kidney disease.
Symptoms include diarrhea, lack of appetite and vomiting. A visit to your vet will sort out the cause, and treatment may include hydration therapy, a bland diet, dietary changes and anti-diarrhea medications.
3. Renal Failure. This is a serious condition, which is common in older cats. While the underlying causes are not yet understood, recent research suggests a link with distemper vaccinations and long-term dry food diets. Make sure you request blood tests on your regular wellness checkups, since symptoms often don’t show up until 75 percent of the kidney tissue is damaged.
The main symptom is excessive thirst and peeing, but the cat may also show signs of drooling, jaw-clicking, and ammonia-scented breath. While it’s not curable, renal failure (when not severe) can be managed through diet, drugs and hydration therapy. Kidney transplants and dialysis can also be used.
2. Stomach Upsets (Gastritis). An inflammation of the cat’s stomach lining is simply referred to as gastritis. This condition may be mild or severe, but regardless of its type, make sure you bring your cat to visit the vet if it doesn’t show improvement in a day or two, or if the symptoms are severe.
Gastritis has many causes, from eating spoiled food to eating too fast to allergies or bacterial infections. If your cat is vomiting, belching, has a lack of appetite or bloodstained poop or diarrhea, a visit to the vet will help straighten things out. Treatments depend on the cause, but generally include medication, fluid therapy and even antibiotics.
1. Lower Urinary Tract Disease. Coming in at No. 1, lower urinary tract disease can turn very quickly into a life-threatening illness for your cat, especially if there’s a blockage caused by crystals, stones or plugs. When total blockage occurs, death can occur within 72 hours if left untreated.
Therefore, whisk your cat off to the vet or emergency center ASAP if you see any of the following signs: peeing outside of the litter box, straining, blood in urine, crying out while attempting to pee, not being able to pee, excessive licking of genitals, not eating or drinking, yowling while moving and lethargy. These signs will generally occur regardless if the urinary tract disease is due to stones, infection or urethral plugs. Treatment includes catheterizing to drain the bladder, medication to dissolve stones or blockages, and in recurring cases, surgery.
If your cat is sleeping all day and not eating or generally just seems like he’s not feeling well, there’s a good chance he may be sick. Knowing the subtle signs of illness will help you get your cat the attention he needs. By being aware of your cat’s regular activities and his general healthy physical appearance, it will be easier to notice little changes and identify when he’s sick.
Your Cat Not Eating or Displays Changes in Eating or Drinking Habits
Any change in a cat’s eating/drinking behavior or routine may be a sign of sickness. It can be extremely difficult for cat parents to determine the cause of appetite changes and other symptoms cats show us, but as cat lovers it’s vital to be watchful for signs of digestive issues. For expert guidance on mapping digestive symptoms to underlying health problems, get a copy of LoveToKnow’s eBook “Happy Tummy Cat”, written by a veterinarian. Signs to watch for include:
- A decrease in food intake for more than a couple of days
- An increased or excessive appetite or thirst, which could be a sign of diabetes or hyperthyroidism
- Not drinking any water
Your Cat Is Lethargic
Although some cats sleep up to 20 hours during a 24-hour day, the average cat sleeps 16 hours each day. Even though cats spend so much time asleep, changes in their sleeping patterns may be a sign of a medical problem. A sick cat may seem overly tired or weak, doesn’t show interest in anything, and often also exhibits other behavioral changes or a lack of interest in food and water.
Your Cat Has Changes in Activity
According to The Cat Hospital, if you notice a change in your cat’s activity level, either an increase or a decrease, it may be an indication the cat is not feeling well. If you notice your cat is reluctant to jump up on things that were easy for her to reach before, or she seems to be jumping differently, there could be a medical reason. A noticeable change in the cat’s gait could also be a sign of a sick cat.
Your Cat’s Grooming Habits Change
Cats are generally clean animals, grooming themselves much of the time they are awake. When a cat suddenly stops grooming itself, it can be a sign of stress, but it can also indicate a painful problem such as arthritis. On the other hand, a cat that incessantly grooms one spot of its body may also have a skin condition.
You Notice Changes in Coat or Loss of Fur
Any change in the condition or texture of a cat’s coat is often an indication your pet is ill. The coat may feel coarse, greasy or very dry. Flaking skin or significant fur loss, such as noticeable thinning or bald patches, is a sign the cat is unwell, per The Cat Hospital.
Your Cat Is Vomiting Excessively
A cat throwing up an occasional hairball is normal. A sudden change in food may also lead to stomach upset. They may eat too quickly, too much, leading to vomiting afterward.
However, if a cat vomits often, has projectile vomiting, or vomits for an extended period, PetMD notes it may be a sign of a more serious problem.
Your Cat Is Hiding
It’s normal for cats to hide during the day when they’re looking to enjoy an uninterrupted nap. Cats will also hide as part of playtime and expressing natural hunting behaviors. If your cat suddenly begins hiding more than he or she usually would, this could be a sign that your cat is sick. This happens often within elderly cats who will hide as a result of the pain and stress they are feeling from a serious medical condition. If your cat suddenly beings hiding when he has never before, or drastically increases the amount of previous hiding behavior, it’s time to have a medical checkup with your veterinarian to make sure your cat is healthy.
Additional Sick Cat Symptoms
In addition, the following signs can be a cause for concern:
- Runny nose or greenish discharge from the nose
- Redness around the nose
- A change in the cat’s breathing rate
- Labored breathing
- Scratching or shaking its head
- Excessive drooling or salivating
- Inflammation of the mouth
- A noticeable bump on its mouth
- Urinating outside of the litter box or other abnormal litter box behavior
- Any change in bowel movements, including diarrhea or constipation
When to Seek Immediate Care
If you notice any of the following signs of illness in your cat, seek immediate medical care.
- Blood in the stool
- Blood in urine
- Protracted vomiting
- Trouble breathing
- Straining to urinate
- Jaundice – any yellowing of the eyes, gums or skin
- Pale gums – an indication of shock or anemia
- Abnormally low or high body temperature
- If the third eyelid is visible
Symptoms of a Sick Cat
Cats are not able to tell their owners if they are not feeling well. As responsible pet caretakers, it is up to each owner to recognize symptoms of an illness and seek medical care as soon as possible.
Eight Common Causes of Cat Weight Loss
February 16, 2018 5:30 pm Published by admin
Cats are somewhat lethargic creatures. They take long naps, lay out in sunny areas and curl up in blankets for large portions of the day. This is perhaps why most people worry about their cats getting fat. A problem that many cat owners don’t always consider, though, is their feline friend rapidly losing weight.
Sudden, unintentional weight loss in cats is usually indicative of a larger problem that requires the assistance of a cat vet in Alexandria, VA to diagnose. Cat weight loss might be caused by a wide variety of health problems, from depression to cancer. There are usually some additional signs that can help pinpoint the problem, but if you notice your cat has recently lost weight, make an appointment with your local veterinarian to identify the true problem.
Here are eight of the most common causes of rapid weight loss in cats:
- Gastrointestinal problems: Directly related to your cat’s nourishment, problems in the gastrointestinal tract may cause your cat to lose weight. These problems may stem from inflammatory bowel disease, food allergies or other issues. See a cat vet in Alexandria, VA to discuss your cat’s recent change in weight and diet.
- Diabetes: Diabetes, caused by a failure to produce insulin or an impaired ability to respond to it, can also cause rapid weight loss in cats. Other signs of diabetes include a change of appetite, excessively drinking water and excessive urination.
- Hyperthyroidism: Hyperthyroidism is caused by a benign tumor on the thyroid, which can also lead to increased drinking and urination. This condition can lead to more severe heart problems or death if untreated.
- Organ failure: Elderly cats, in particular, are susceptible to weight loss as a side effect of organ failure. This condition can be identified through blood and urine tests.
- Stress and depression: Similarly to humans, cats can experience severe anxiety, stress and depression. These psychological problems may cause cats to stop eating, resulting in sudden weight loss. Try to identify situations in your home that may cause your cat distress, such as loud noises.
- Cancer: Cancer is one of the scariest and also one of the most common causes of rapid weight loss in cats. Often, cancer-related weight loss is accompanied by a loss of appetite, lethargy and hiding by your cat.
- Intestinal parasites: Intestinal parasites, or worms, may also be the cause of weight loss. Worms also cause diarrhea, bloating and vomiting.
- Dental problems:If your cat has inflamed gums, bad breath and signs of decay on its teeth, it may have a painful dental disease that is causing it to not want to eat. Inspect your cat’s mouth for dental problems if you notice it dropping food, chewing strangely or drooling.
Once you make an appointment to see a cat vet in Alexandria, VA, the vet will likely physically examine your cat and complete blood work and a urine analysis to determine the source of the problem. Once identified, most health problems can be treated or cured.
If your cat is losing weight suddenly, call Kingstowne Cat Clinic and make an appointment as soon as possible. Our licensed veterinarians have served the community for more than 25 years, offering wellness exams, surgery, dental care, vaccinations and more for cats.
Categorised in: weight loss
This post was written by admin
Feline Weight Loss: When Your Cat Losing Weight Isn’t Normal
Feline weight loss, when unplanned, is something to be concerned about at any age. Unfortunately, a cat losing weight is often a sick cat, and this key cat illness symptom is easy for many pet parents to miss. Your cat, when healthy, will normally weigh the same year after year, except for those who gain weight. Good feline care includes knowing what a normal cat weight is for your feline and taking action when any cat weight loss occurs. Many cat illnesses have weight loss as one of the primary symptoms.
I have examined thousands of cats over the last 20 years and I have seen healthy cats come in year after year weighing the same, almost to the ounce. There are two exceptions to that: (1) the cats that steadily gain weight and become overweight, and (2) cats that have an illness.
Unfortunately, there are many, many misconceptions about cat weight problems. For instance, many believe that weight loss is a good sign, especially with the pet obesity epidemic. Also, many believe that a cat losing weight is a normal occurrence with age or is acceptable in small amounts, regardless of whether it is happening quickly or gradually over time. However, as you will learn throughout this article, these things are often not true.
Debunking Cat Weight GAIN Myths
Cat weight gain is cause for concern, but not because it indicates an illness. There is no disease in cats that causes weight gain. You may have read or heard otherwise, but this is simply not true. I have seen misinformation in various places over the years about this subject.
For example, I have heard it said that cats gain weight because they are hypothyroid. Cats do not get hypothyroidism except in one type of situation. If a hyperthyroid cat has his thyroid glands surgically removed or has radioactive iodine treatment for feline hyperthyroidism, then it is possible that after the removal, the cat’s thyroid levels may be low, either temporarily or permanently. However that is a man-made condition. Naturally occurring hypothyroidism, if it does exist, is so rare that your chances of having a cat with that condition are pretty much nil.
The other time I have heard a disease blamed for a cat being overweight is in association with diabetes. I have heard it said that diabetes makes cats fat. That is not true. Fat cats are more likely to get diabetes which will then make them lose weight if not treated quickly, but diabetes does not make them fat.
If your cat is overweight, he is eating too much. Period.
Debunking Myths about a Cat Losing Weight
Unlike weight gain, which happens because of poor diet or portion control, there are many actual illnesses and diseases that cause feline weight loss. Because cats tend to stay the same weight year after year or they gain weight, it is ALWAYS of concern if you notice your cat losing weight.
There are some myths associated with feline weight loss as well. I have been asked or told many times by cat owners that their cat’s weight loss must be due to growing older. Wrong! Old age is not a disease! Old age does not cause feline weight loss, but old age can increase your cat’s risk of acquiring certain feline diseases or a number of problems that cause this illness symptom. But the age itself is not a reason for weight loss.
A major problem with feline weight loss is our inability to see that it is happening until a significant decrease in the weight has occurred. For example, a 10 pound cat can lose a pound and it may very well not be noticed by the owner. A pound is nothing, you say? Maybe to us. But a pound weight loss in a 10 pound cat is loss of 10% of the cat’s body weight. That is significant.
Too often, I have seen cats brought in for an examination only after they look like the cat to the left and this is MUCH too late!
Unfortunately, when you look at your cat, you may not notice early weight loss. That first pound lost is not easy to see if your cat has been at a healthy weight for years.
In an ideal world of ideal cat care, every cat owner would own a pediatric or feline scale and weigh their cats regularly throughout their lives. If this is not an option, although it is the most accurate, every owner would weigh their cats while holding him in your arms and deducting your own weight from his on your regular human scale. Many conditions would be diagnosed earlier if we all did that, allowing for earlier treatment and a better outcome.
Feline weight loss is the symptom that worries me the most of any warning signs you may see at home. It is the one cat illness symptom that most often has something serious associated with it.
What are the Causes of Feline Weight Loss?
Anything and everything. Seriously. Cat weight loss can occur due to:
– hyperthyroidism in cats
– feline kidney disease
– cat diabetes
– feline leukemia and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
– feline inflammatory bowel disease
– upper respiratory infections
– cat dental problems
…..and on and on. There’s almost nothing imaginable that can’t cause weight loss in cats. If you explore our Feline Illnesses index, you will see that weight loss can be and often is a symptom in any condition.
This is another reason feline weight loss is a problem. Not only is it not obvious until too much weight has been lost, but it is so nonspecific as to the cause. One can never say, “my cat lost weight so she has diabetes” or “my cat lost weight so she has dental problems”. There are so many causes that only a good history and physical exam by your veterinarian can narrow the possibilities and even then, blood work is often necessary, as can be more advanced radiography studies.
Solving the Mystery of Your Cat Losing Weight
At the bottom of this page, you will see a large sampling of questions and answers from visitors just like you who are wondering what might be the cause of the feline weight loss they were observing. You may even find someone in exactly the same situation as you!
The following question, though, illustrates just how broad and vague these symptoms may be and how difficult it can be to diagnose. Abnormal cat weight loss can affect a cat of any age and any gender, and Erica’s question is a perfect illustration of this.
Erica wrote:”I have a one year old male cat. About 3 months ago he started drooling, lost body weight, and was irritable towards the other animals in the house. The symptoms keep coming and going. But he has not gained all his body weight back. Had blood test done at the vet and they said his liver results were a little high but not out of the normal range. He likes to roll in dirt outside when he feels bad. He is normally an inside cat.”
My answer: Feline weight loss at any age is cause for concern. If kittens and young cats lose weight, we become especially concerned. Drooling is also abnormal and his irritability could be significant if it never occurred before and now is an intermittent event.
There are a few things that come to mind if I look at all his symptoms together:
(1) Problems in the mouth. Were his teeth and gums examined very carefully, all the way back to his throat? Was his tongue closely examined, including the area under the tongue? Was there excessive gingivitis or any ulcers? Do his teeth need a professional cleaning? Are there any abnormal masses in the mouth? Any painful areas?
(2) Toxins. Is there anything he can get into from time to time that is poisonous to him? Any plants, grasses, medications, rat poison, anti-freeze, cleaning supplies, construction materials? Does he lick anything indoors or outdoors on a regular basis? Even if a plant or grass is not truly poisonous, all can be irritating to the mouth and stomach of a cat.
(3) Blood work was mentioned, but I don’t know if it included testing for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. If not, that testing should be performed. Cats with those viruses frequently have mouth problems and have feline weight loss. He’s young and has spent at least some time outdoors so he certainly has been at risk for acquiring those viruses.
Those are the top problems that come to mind with the symptoms described. Of course, other illnesses can cause those symptoms: kidney disease, other viruses, liver disease and others. However, his symptoms and his age and the blood results so far put these other things at the bottom of the list of possibilities right now for me. Also, of course, make sure he is eating a good quality, nutritious cat diet.
Recommendations then include a very complete oral exam, under sedation if necessary, and perhaps a second opinion. I also recommend FeLV and FIV testing if that wasn’t done or was done over 3 to 4 months ago. In addition, think hard and look around carefully to see if there is anything that could possibly be toxic to a cat.
If none of these procedures come up with a cause and he still is too thin or losing weight and drooling, I would proceed to X-rays of his chest and abdomen.
For more examples of feline weight loss questions and answers, please see the submissions at the bottom of this page. And remember, if your cat is losing weight, it’s time for a trip to the veterinarian!
Leave Feline Weight Loss and return to Symptoms of Cat Illnesses
Learn more about Feline Illnesses that might be causing your cat’s weight change
Return to the Ask The Cat Doctor home page
What Other Cat Lovers Have Said About Feline Weight Loss
Click below to see questions or stories about cats losing weight from other cat lovers…
Cat not eating, losing weight and becoming weaker
Hi, my cat is about 1 year old and for the past week or so she has not been wanting to eat and she is losing weight very fast. She does go to the bathroom …
QUESTION: Hello, Dr. Neely,I have an 8 year old male cat who has recently started gagging while eating but also while not eating (not licking …
Weigh Loss In Cat
QUESTION: I have a 5-year-old cat that in the last couple of weeks has become sluggish, with weight loss, decreased appetite, decreased thirst, and …
Cat tail flicking with weight loss
Our 12 year old female cat has begun to flick her tail constantly back and forth and has lost weight. She is eating and drinking normally. She purrs and …
Hepatic Lipidosis? I am a vet tech student! Oh no!!
My Sweet Pea is a 5 year old female DSH. A few days ago I noticed that she was not eating the amount of food she normally eats and she was sleeping ALOT …
Thin Cat Not Gaining Weight
I have an outdoor cat that seems pretty thin (you can feel his ribs). I feed her often. He always seems hungry and eats, but does not gain weight. …
Cat Has Lost 2/3 of His Weight
Question: My cat, Savino, is 16 years old and a year ago was 19 pounds. He is now 7.5 pounds. He throws up a lot and his stool is always diarrhea. …
CAT HEALTH Weight Loss
QUESTION Cleo, my 13-year-old tabby, has been gradually losing hair on her belly and legs, as well as losing weight. She is an indoor cat and her …