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An introduction to common cat illnesses and ailments

Wednesday August 27th 2014

While nothing can ever replace the professional advice and diagnosis of your vet, it pays to have some understanding of the different illnesses and ailments that most commonly affect cats.

Being able to spot any warning signs will allow you to seek treatment before the condition gets worse, putting your kitty on the road to recovery and helping to reduce its suffering.

Vomiting and regurgitation
Vomiting and chronic regurgitation are often symptoms of other problems, so consult a vet if it becomes persistent.

Symptoms - flea 'dirt' (small black dots) on skin - especially around the belly, constant scratching or licking of infected or irritated skin, hair loss.
Treatments - a number of treatments are available including oral medications, topical medications, powders and foams. Your vet can help you decide which is best for your cat's circumstances and advise on preventative treatments as well.
Complications - some fleas can cause tapeworms, and if left untreated cats can develop anemia.

Symptoms - vomiting and weight loss are common, but could be a sign of something else. Small white worms that look like grains or rice or sesame seeds around the anus or in your cat's faeces are a sure sign of tapeworms.
Treatments - vets can prescribe effective deworming products, which may be in the form of tablets or an injection.
Complications - as they deprive nutrients to your cat, it can affect their ability to grow. They may also be spread to humans in the household.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
Causes - accumulation of debris in the bladder/urethra, bladder infections, injury to the urinary tract and stress.
Symptoms - whining when using the litter box, blood in urine, failing to use their litter box, and regular trips to litter box without urinating.
Treatment - diagnosed early, antibiotics prescribed by a vet will have your cat back in good health.
Complications - if left untreated the infection can spread to the kidneys. Complete blockages can be fatal.

Upper Respiratory Infection
Causes - contact with other cats that have the illness - indoor cats do not suffer from URI.
Symptoms - much like the human cold, cats suffering from upper respiratory infection will sneeze and cough. A runny nose and even fevers are also common. Usually the cat will recover by itself, but if it is very lethargic, and refuses to eat or drink you should make an appointment to see your vet immediately.
Treatment - medication to help break up mucus and ease breathing is available, while your vet may also prescribe antibiotics to prevent bacterial problems developing (URI is caused by a virus).
Complications - if your cat becomes dehydrated it may need a fluid drip

Causes - while genetic dispositions play some influence in type 1 diabetes, obesity is the overwhelming risk factor for type 2 diabetes.
Symptoms - increased appetite without the weight gain, unusually frequent drinking and urinating, lethargy, and a dull coat.
Treatment - Daily insulin shots and a special diet will help manage the condition - if the diabetes isn't diagnosed early, the cat may also need treatment for dehydration.
Complications - a number of complications affecting the pancreas, nervous system and kidneys can develop of the condition isn't managed.

Eye problems
Symptoms - watery eyes; the third eyelid being visible; gunk building up in the corner of the eye; watery eyes; eyelid lining colour changes and any other changes to the eye as well as constant pawing at the eye.
Treatment - You can clean away gunk with a damp cotton ball (remember to use a new cotton ball for each eye). Vet prescribed eye drops or ointments will clear up most eye-related disorders.
Complications - Left untreated, eye-related problems can lead to blindness or impaired vision.

Always seek professional advice
While cats can't talk to let us know they're feeling unwell if you look for changes in their behavior it's easy enough to tell when something’s not right. As mentioned, this guide doesn’t replace the advice from a professional, so if you're at all concerned about your pet make an appointment to see your vet.

This article was written on behalf of helpucover. helpucover is a trading style of Pinnacle Insurance plc, an insurance company who offers pet insurance.