There are many common diseases in cats. These diseases can be hereditary, an infection from an external virus, or from their daily diet and nutrition. Most commonly seen are skin allergies, diabetes, and kidney disease and heart problems.
This section will give you more details on how to prevent, identify and seek treatment for these illnesses.
Chronic Renal Failure (CRF)
It is an irreversible condition where the kidney's function deteriorates gradually over a period of time. Once the kidneys start to deteriorate, they are unable to filter and remove waste from the body, causing toxic to build up.
* Increased thirst
* Excessive urination
* Poor appetite
* Dull or unkempt-looking coat
* Weight loss
* Unpleasant breath
Treatment: CRF is untreatable but treatments will prolong the lifespan of the cat and ease discomfort.
Fluid: Affected cats require additional water intake. Fluid can be administrated under the skin in the hospital or at home.
Diet: A special diet that is lower in protein and less phosphorous is beneficial. Excess protein will put more stress on the cat's kidneys.
Medication: Your vet may prescribe medication for anaemia, hypertension (high blood pressure) and phosphorus binders to stop further damage on the kidneys. Antibiotics will help to fight infections that may take advantage of the cat's weakened immune system.
Supplements: Appetite stimulants can be prescribed if your cat has problems eating.
Kidney Transplants: This is however, not advisable for elderly cats.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease(FLUD)
FLUD describes several conditions linked with the inflammation of the bladder and urethra of cats.
General symptoms include
* Urinating outside of litter box
* Difficulty in urination
* Blood in urine
* Frequent trips to the litter box (increased urination)
* Excessive licking of genital area
Specific Types Of FLUD Conditions
* Urolithiasis (urinary stones): One form of FLUD is the presence of small mineral stones, also called uroliths, in the bladder of cats. The two common stones found in cats are struvite and calcium oxalate.
For cats that suffer from struvite, a stone-dissolving diet will be prescribed by the vet to purge the stones. Calcium oxalate stones on the other hand, cannot be resolved with a particular diet and has to be flushed out with sterile fluids. If all fails, surgery will be the best alternative for both.
* Urethral Obstruction: Urethral obstruction is one of the most serious cat diseases and occurs mainly in male cats because their urethra is longer and narrower than female cats. The normal flow of urine is blocked, and the kidneys are no longer able to remove toxins from the blood. If left untreated, urethral obstruction is fatal.
* Straining to urinate
* Frequent attempts to urinate, but little or no urine comes out
* Crying during urination
Catheterization: Involves the dislodging of stones by flushing a sterile solution through a tapered tube placed in the urethra. Once the stones are removed, additional treatment that consists of fluid therapy and antibiotics is necessary. Surgical treatment will be recommended for recurring cases.
* Feed small but frequent meals.
* Provide clean, fresh water all day.
* Keep litter boxes clean.
* For a multiple-cat household, provide a sufficient number of litter boxes (at least two).
* Feed your cats with a diet that encourages the formation of urine that is acidic.
Diabetes mellitus is a chronic condition where a deficiency exists in the cat's body, and prevents it from producing insulin or utilising it properly. There are two types of diabetes, Type 1 (where the body doesn't produce insulin), or Type 2 (where the body don't react appropriately to insulin).
Insulin is a hormone produced by the pancreas. When the cat eats, food is digested into few components beneficial to the body. Carbohydrates are converted to various sugars, including glucose.
Glucose provides the body energy, can only enter body cells if Insulin is present or sufficient. Without insulin, glucose remains in the bloodstream and this will lead to a high glucose level.
* Weight loss
* Increased thirst and urination
* Excessive hunger
Treatment: Each diabetic cat responds to treatments differently. Some can be treated with oral medications, while others require insulin injections. Some diabetic cats may heal after a while but others may require treatment throughout their lives.
Insulin: Diabetic cats require insulin injections under their skin twice daily. The injections can be administered at home. You may feel anxious doing it the first time, just like many others but your vet will demonstrate the injection techniques as well as other aspects of diabetic cat care.
Because every cat is different, the proper type of insulin, dose, and frequency of administration will be determined by your vet.
Oral Hypoglycemic (Low Blood Sugar) Medication: Healthy diabetic cats can sometimes be treated with glipzide (hypoglycemic medication) to lower their blood glucose. Uncommon side effects include vomiting, loss of appetite, and liver damage.
Most cats require the combination of glipzide and insulin injections to successfully control their diabetes.
Diet: In addition to medication, an important step in treating diabetes is to change your cat's diet. Obesity is a major factor in insulin sensitivity, so if your cat is overweight, you will need to help him lose weight gradually with a tailor-made, safe weight-loss program.
A high-fibre, high-complex carbohydrate diet not only achieves weight loss, but helps control blood sugar levels after eating.
Underweight cats should be fed a high calorie diet until they reach their ideal body weight. Others respond well to carbohydrate-restricted diets although diabetic cats have been successfully managed with both types of diets; some cats respond better to high-fibre diets and others to low-carbohydrate diets
It is important to monitor your cat's food intake and regulate feeding routine. Preferably, a cat receiving insulin should be fed half his daily food requirement at the time of each injection, with the remainder available throughout the day.
Cat Flu (Upper Respiratory Tract Disease)
Cat flu, also known as upper respiratory tract disease (URT), is a general term equivalent to the human flu. Cat flu is caused by airborne viruses and has to be treated to avoid secondary infections or transmissions that might take place in the nose, eyes, mouth and lungs.
* Nasal discharge containing pus
* Inflamed (swollen) eyes
* White-eye discharge
* Mouth/tongue ulcers
* Lack of appetite
Treatment: There is no long-term solution for cat flu. What you can do is to keep your cat comfortable and treat the symptoms. Keep your cat's nose and eyes free of discharge. Mouth ulcers have to be checked by a vet, and antibiotics may be prescribed for certain cases.
The lack of appetite may occur and it is important you find ways to encourage your cat to eat and drink.
* Keep affected cats away from other cats. Virus can spread from cat to cat just like how flu is transmitted from one human to another.
* Wash hands with warm soapy water coming into contact with a cat suffering from cat flu.
* Have your cat vaccinated. It is the best protection against respiratory diseases.
* Bring your cat to a vet if in doubt of any dubious symptoms.
* The information on this website is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified pet health care professional and is not intended as medical advice. Always make a pet health care decision in partnership with a qualified veterinary or pet health care professional.
*This article was updated on 5 Aug 2020. It first appeared in PetsMagazine.com.sg on 2 Oct 2015.