Cats are not small dogs! They need specialized care to keep them healthy. Cats are very skilled at hiding disease, which can make it challenging for you or your veterinarian to notice early signs that they are unwell. Being an informed cat owner may help you know when to take your cat to your veterinarian. Regular wellness examinations can also help your veterinarian detect problems before they become more serious.
Here are some common conditions that your veterinarian will screen for with a comprehensive physical examination and perhaps additional diagnostics:
Osteoarthritis A common reason for chronic pain in cats is osteoarthritis, and it can occur even in young cats! Cats are very skilled at hiding their level of pain and discomfort, so careful observations are needed so your pet can be diagnosed and receive appropriate treatment to maintain their quality of life. If you are wondering if your cat is suffering from osteoarthritis-related pain, download this helpful checklist. Kidney disease This is a serious condition which is common in older cats. The main sign is excessive drinking and urinating, but cats may also show signs of lethargy, weight loss, and eating less. Because the clinical signs are similar, and it can be difficult to differentiate kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism on a physical examination alone, veterinarians will usually recommend doing blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis. Blood tests at your cat’s regular wellness visits may help detect this condition early so that dietary modifications and possible other treatments can be started to help your pet feel better.
Hyperthyroidism This condition exists in people. Affected cats may be drinking and peeing a lot and show aggressive and nervous behaviour. Cats with hyperthyroidism may also seem hyperactive, vomit and/or lose weight while eating more than usual. This condition is usually seen in older cats. Cats with hyperthyroidism may have a detectable mass on their thyroid gland that your veterinarian can palpate. Because the clinical signs are similar, and it can be difficult to differentiate kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism on a physical examination alone, veterinarians will usually recommend doing blood and urine tests to confirm the diagnosis.
Diabetes Like humans, cats can suffer from insulin dependent diabetes too. Symptoms include increased thirst and urinating, urinating outside the litter box, lethargy, and increased appetite. Diabetes is a treatable condition, and it is very important to bring in a cat that is drinking more and urinating more often so that a diagnosis can be achieved and appropriate medical care started as early as possible. Colitis/Constipation: Colitis means inflammation of the large intestine. While the most evident sign of colitis is diarrhea, cats may also develop constipation. Signs include straining to defecate, lack of appetite, dehydration, and vomiting. Sometimes, mucus and blood can also be seen in the stools. Your veterinarian will test for the underlying cause and treat accordingly.
Gastrointestinal inflammation/Diarrhea Diarrhea and vomiting are a sign of gastrointestinal inflammation. These signs may be due to a variety of causes, including diet changes, eating certain foods, intestinal parasites, and even kidney disease, among others; visit your veterinarian if your cat is vomiting, has diarrhea, stops eating, and/or looks lethargic. Your vet will possibly recommend supportive care either at home or at the veterinary hospital and potentially some diagnostic tests such as a fecal examination, x-rays, and blood tests.
Ear infections in cats have many causes. The most common cause in cats is ear mites, so make sure that your cat has a preventive treatment on board that covers these parasites. Other causes include bacteria, fungi and allergies. Have your cat checked if they are showing showing signs such as ear discharge, head shaking, red and irritated ears, and sensitivity to ears being touched.
Upper respiratory virus If your cat is sneezing, sniffling, coughing, or has runny eyes or nose, they may have a viral infection of the upper respiratory tract. The two main viruses are feline herpes virus and calicivirus, but there are also other infectious agents that can cause similar signs. Your veterinarian will discuss how to diagnose and treat promptly, and remember that these viruses are contagious to other cats.
Dental disease Cats can develop gingivitis, calculus and other teeth conditions that can cause pain, infections and inflammation in other parts of the body such as the heart. It is important to have your cat’s teeth checked on a regular basis and your veterinarian may recommend dental x-rays to help detect problems early. Regular dental care can help keep your cat’s mouth healthy and pain free.
The health information contained herein are provided for educational purposes only and are not intended to replace discussions with a healthcare provider. All decisions regarding patient care must be made with a healthcare provider, considering the unique characteristics of the patient.