The actual title of a free e-Book “10 Ways to Kill a Cat”, by Perfect-Pets.org, isn’t advocating that you do anything of the sort. The authors wanted to simply draw attention to the fact that while cats have earned the reputation of having nine lives, in reality, your kitty is constantly under threat from a diverse range of hazards.
The eBook by the organisation offers some useful tips concerning what to look out for and highlight the action you ought to take
The statistics collected from primary animal care practitioners across the UK cite that the majority of feline fatalities are the result of trauma (mostly following a traffic incident) and it is a story that is repeated in most of the other densely populated areas of the world. Apart from bringing your feline friend up as a “house cat”, there isn’t a great deal you can do.
Not all traumas, of course, are related to motor vehicles and despite strong evidence to the
contrary, even the luckiest cats don’t always land on their feet. This is especially true when they fall from apartment block windowsills and balconies. The obvious preventative measures for those eventualities are, of course, owner vigilance.
2. Renal Issues
As with humans and other mammals, renal problems can often be fatal if left undetected and subsequently untreated.
Furthermore, in general, cats have a propensity to be long-suffering and apart from the urinary traces (blood in the urine), it can often be too late by the time a condition becomes obvious. Regular health checks by your vet are a must and early detection is a key factor in ensuring that your cat continues to live a comfortable and long life even after being diagnosed with renal issues.
It is highly likely that your vet will recommend a special renal or urinary diet to protect the animal’s kidneys against further damage. Recent agreement among small animal care providers tends to suggest that neutering male cats too early can also lead to urinary and renal issues in young adulthood.
Neoplasia refers to a range of lesions or tumours, both benign and malignant, which are the result of uncontrolled cell growth. Whilst not all of these are cancerous, Neoplasia has the potential to be fatal if it escapes early detection and treatment.
Along with eventual weight – loss and other symptoms such as lethargy and a reluctance to exert, most cats have a strong propensity to mask the illness until it reaches its more severe stages. While benign tumours and even some cancerous forms of Neoplasia are operable, sensible nutrition and regular health checks are your best form of defence against the condition.
4. Cardiac Disease
Cats usually inherit cardiac issues from their parents in the form of an abnormality or weakness of the heart. In many cases, it can appear to be the cause of sudden death and may affect a cat of any age.
The early symptoms of feline cardiac disease are usually manifested in weakness and lethargy along with a reduction of physical activity. As the severity of the condition increases, cats may experience breathing difficulties which are accompanied by chronic coughing and fainting. In more extreme cases, sudden paralysis of the back and legs along with an elevated heart rate.
Many vets are likely to refer cats they suspect of having cardio issues to a specialist in the field. Early detection is, of course, a key factor in survival rates and treatment usually involves medication, lifestyle changes and, even surgical intervention.
5. Endocrine Disorders
The endocrine system manages, among other things, everything from moods and digestion to skin condition and growth.
At the centre of the endocrine system is the thyroid gland. As with humans, cats can suffer from under or overactive thyroid glands. Which may lead to a diverse range of symptoms including (but not limited to) lethargy, weight loss/gain, behavioural changes and marked changes in appetite. Hair loss, increased or irregular heart rate and excessive urination are also some of the possible symptoms of endocrine disorders.
Detection and diagnosis are fairly straightforward via blood tests and in most cases, it can be successfully treated provided it is detected early.
6. Neurological Disorders
As the name suggests, feline neurological disorders originate in the brain or spinal cord.
From seizures and behavioural issues to paralysis and vocal difficulties, they can all present as symptoms of feline neurological disorders. Walking in circles, rapid blinking and balance issues are also some of the more common indicators.
As neurological disorders offer a diverse range of symptoms and causes, treatments will also take many forms. These may include anything from surgical intervention in the case of tumours and lesions, to medication for epilepsy and viral infections.
7. Respiratory Disorders
Respiratory disorders (RD) are way down the list of potentially fatal ailments, and these generally fall into two distinct groups: Viral Infections and Congenital Conditions.
Some of the more severe congenital conditions often result from feline FVR (herpes virus) which infected cats will carry for life. Eye and nose secretions are one of the most common outward signs of viral respiratory disorders and these are easily treated.
The biggest issue with RD’s is that they are highly infectious. While most upper tract respiratory disorders only last for one to three weeks, early detection and treatment via medication are essential. Also, due to the infectious nature of some many such disorders, they are easily spread to other cats, so isolation should also be a consideration during the infectious period.
8. Viral Disorders
Another common cause of death in domestic cats is something known as feline leukaemia virus (FIV). Being a “retrovirus”, it acts within the animals own immune system in a similar way to Aids in humans.
While many other feline viral infections can be cured, FIV is hereditary and once infected; it is a matter of managing the virus rather than curing the cat. Many cats are never even diagnosed with the condition and carry the virus without any noticeable outward signs. It is also an inherited condition which can be passed on to kittens via the mother cat during birthing.
While there is no known cure for the virus, and it is fatal in around 30 percent of the cats it infects, while some 70 percent do go on to live normal lives while carrying the virus.
Medication has been seen to retard the progress of the-full blown condition though once symptoms have manifest it is usually fatal.
9. Parasitic Infections
Although most parasitic infections in cats are non-fatal, there are some which can and do kill. In general terms, parasitic infections fall into two categories: Internal and external. Those on the outside usually burrow into the skin to feed off the blood, while the internal type takes nutrition from the food your cat eats.
The most common form of parasites is likely to be some form of a worm and while most of these are easily detected and treated while being relatively harmless, there are others which may prove fatal. These include heartworm and other worm forms, which if untreated can damage the body and lead to premature death.
Treatment for most parasites in cats, including worms, is a matter of routine and can be easily administered at home.
10. Non-Specific Conditions
In the absence of costly testing and lab work, many cat fatalities with less obvious causes are often left undiagnosed and, therefore, fall under the heading of non-specific conditions. While it is highly likely that a large proportion of these deaths are related to some of the conditions described already, there may also be a diverse number of unknown causes.
These include viral and hereditary conditions along with sudden death and undetected injury due to trauma through road accidents which may often be delayed due to less obvious internal injuries. Delayed shock, genetic weaknesses and birth defects may also be contributing factors. Owners can minimise such risks for your cat is through correct nutrition and regular health checks at an approved veterinary practice.
Text: Patricia E Tan
About Perfect-Pets Books…
Perfect-Pets Books are published by BX Plans Ltd, owner of Need2Know Books in the UK. Their books have been specially written to provide information to help cat and dog owners, and those who work with cats and dogs. Their books cover a variety of ‘essential things to know’.
First Aid for Cats: The Essential Guide
A guide for cat lovers to deal with emergencies, accidents and injuries. It stresses the importance of knowing what to do in the time between discovery and getting the cat to the vet.
The book covers the treatment needed for a variety of health issues including:choking, bandaging, medication, bleeding, burns, heat stroke and hypothermia.
To Buy: Amazon
The Essential Guide to Cat Care
A must-have book for cat owners and potential cat owners. It explains what to do when dealing with a new kitten and throughout the lifetime of the cat.
It covers a vast amount of general things to consider about owning and caring for a cat and include: The early years and the cat ‘teenager’. What the cat should eat and drink and foods that are dangerous.
To Buy: Perfect-Pets.Org