Learn about the 7 common warning signs of disease, as well as health tips for kittens, adult cats, and senior cats.
When you acquire a new kitten, you should make sure that he is healthy before introducing him to our homes, especially if you have other cats. All Kittens should be tested for feline leukemia virus and feline immunodeficiency virus prior to entering our home. Additionally a stool sample should be checked to insure that your kitten is parasite free.
Your kitten will need a series of vaccinations over the first several months. The type of vaccines that your kitten receives depends in large part on his or her living situation. Cats that go outside or reside in multiple cat households require vaccines against the common respiratory viruses (rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, pneumonitis) and panleukopenia (FVRC/P vaccine) as well as against feline leukemia and rabies. Cats that are solitary indoor cats should receive the FVRC/P vaccine. Because leukemia, rabies and FIV require direct exposure to infected cats, solitary indoor cats are very unlikely to become infected and the risk of vaccinating likely outweighs the risk of the disease.
All cats between the ages of 1 and eight years should have annual physical examinations. During these examinations, we check for problems that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. We examine the mouth for dental disease, check inside the ears for infections, listen to the chest for signs of heart or lung problems and palpate the abdomen to check for organ enlargement and tumors. It is important to remember that in the wild there is a real threat to animal that appear sick so a cat’s natural instinct is to hide illness, even from its owner.
In addition to an examination, any indicated vaccinations should be administered according to your veterinarian’s recommendations.
Starting at about 8 years of age, cats should be examined every six months. Remember that a year in the life of an older cat is equivalent to about 7 of our years. By examining your cat every six months, we are much more likely to detect problems when they are minor and amenable to treatment. In addition, we recommend that a base line blood panel and urinalysis be performed every twelve months in cats 8 years old and above.
The 7 Common Warning Signs of Disease:
Sudden weight loss or gain. The best way to assess this is to stroke your cats back. You should just barely feel the top of his or her spine.
Increased water consumption. Many diseases of cats, including urinary tract infections, kidney disease and diabetes, present with a history of increased water intake.
Sudden changes in appetite: either increase or decrease.
Persistent vomiting and or diarrhea.
Persistent coughing or rapid respiration.
Cats are particularly susceptible to two conditions that if not detected early may prove fatal. They are feline asthma and feline cardiomyopathy. Because cats are so sedentary by nature, they must have severe impairment of the cardiac and respiratory systems before they exhibit symptoms. Once symptoms develop, the cat is usually in very bad shape. If your cat has a cough or appears to be breathing abnormally fast or heavily, have him examined immediately!!!
Decreased activity levels. It is often hard to tell with cats if their activity levels are diminished, but if you find your cat not getting up to eat or use the litter box or lying he same spot all day long, it would be prudent to have him examined.
Changes in litter box routine, either increased frequency of use or inappropriate elimination in areas other than the litter box can signal a medical problem for your cat. Have him checked!
A Final Word of Advice:
Indoor cats live 2-3 times longer than the average outdoor cat and are healthier throughout their lifetime. Keep your cat inside at all times if possible!