Last month I discussed how cats show you that they are sick by drinking too much water. This month I am going to discuss some other feline health issues that can lead to declining health in your cat.
One of the most common problems that is missed by owners is poor dental health. I know what you’re thinking, “My cat won’t let me look in his mouth unlike my dog.” You’re right! Peering into your cat’s mouth can be hard and in some cases downright dangerous, but it’s worth doing. It might take two people but even if you can only get a quick peek at the teeth you could discover something important. Make sure that you get a look at the molars in the back because most of the time these are the teeth that have problems first. Take a whiff of Fluffy’s breath, too. Just like humans, foul-smelling breath can indicate problems. Recent studies have shown that keeping an animal’s teeth in good shape can add up to 5 years to their lifespan. That’s a pretty good benefit from a small investment.
Another very common thing we see in cats, especially outdoor cats, is tapeworms. The cat gets up off your guest’s lap and there on their pants is a writhing, white tapeworm segment. Yuck!! Alternatively, you find little things on the floor or on your cat’s fur that look like small pieces of rice. Tapeworms are easy to treat but can cause numerous problems such as gastrointestinal obstructions, diarrhea, vomiting and even nervous disorders such as chronic licking of the rectum. These conditions are rather easy to diagnose and treat. Tapeworms are usually a sign that the cat has had fleas at some point in the past. I want to reiterate what I have said before about cats and flea control. Products that advertise themselves as “Just like Frontline” are not! I have seen many sick cats as a result of these over- the- counter products. Don’t use them. When it comes to flea control, you get what you pay for and sometimes more than you wanted. Please discuss safe options with your veterinarian.
Finally, nutrition is very important for your cat. I have found that most indoor cats tend to be overweight which can then cause a myriad of other problems. I firmly believe that most indoor cats over one year of age can be fed a low-calorie diet for their entire lives and be just fine. As I have said in the past, you don’t want to just feed less of a normal diet. For one thing, your cat will bug you for more food and often they simply don’t get enough nutrients from eating a smaller amount.
Remember: Cats are not small dogs. They are different in many, many ways. If you have any other questions concerning your cat, please speak with your veterinarian. He or she is your best resource for accurate information regarding the health of your pet.