Saturday, April 9, 2016

Common Health Problems in Cats

Cats suffer from many different health problems, and it would be impossible to try to write one comprehensive blog post about all of the potential health problems cats can suffer. But knowing which health problems are the most common for cats can help a concerned pet owner understand what's going on with her pet. Please talk to your cat's veterinarian for specific diagnosis and treatment recommendations.

Three Common Health Problems in Cats

  1. Feline lower urinary tract disease: (FLUTD): I wish I understood why cats are prone to urinary problems. I thought it was merely a problem with boy cats, but other research I've done seems to indicate that both male and female cats can get urinary problems. Males tend to be prone to FLUTD, especially neutered cats. One of the veterinarians who treats our cats recommended leaving the males intact as long as possible before neutering; he speculated that a smaller, less developed urinary system might make passage of crystals more difficult. He did say it was pure speculation and anecdotal evidence, but we tried to wait until our boys were at least 8 months old before neutering. Anyway, what is FLUTD? It's a constellation of urinary diseases among cats that can cause them to have difficult urinary, form blood in the urine, or at worst case, make them unable to urinate at all. Anytime your cat has blood in the urine or can't urinate, call your vet immediately. It's an emergency. A burst bladder can be fatal, and cats can be in agony before they show signs of problems. Most problems are caused by crystals forming in the urine. These mineral crystals irritate the lining of the bladder and the ureter and can cause bloody urine. Bladder and kidney stones can also form, causing difficult urinating for cats. 
  2. Vomiting: Cats vomit. A lot. At least my cats do. Most of the time it is harmless. Cats have a short digestive tract from the mouth to the stomach, and because it is horizontal while they eat, the food can regurgitate if they eat too quickly or drink rapidly after eating. (This is what happens to our Pierre, so we have to give him smaller portions than the other kitties to keep him from being a glutton and throwing it all back up.) Cats will also vomit up hairballs, grass, and foreign substances they eat, not to mention bones, feathers and indigestible parts of prey they've caught if you have an outdoor cat. So when should you call the vet? Because vomiting can also be a sign of diabetes, urinary infections, or ingesting something poisonous, it's a good idea to call the vet when your cat vomits a lot or you see other symptoms. Whenever you aren't sure, bring your cat to the vet. Drooling, lethargy, hiding and other symptoms mean something is wrong beyond the usual hairballs and calls for a vet visit.
  3. Parasites: Cats who spend time outdoors often contract parasites. It's nasty, and no one wants to think about parasites, but tapeworms and hook worms are two of the most common parasites in cats. Tapeworms are transmitted from fleas, so if you treat your cats for fleas you can prevent tapeworms. To tell if your cat has a tapeworm, look for signs such as weight loss and vomiting. Small grains of what looks like rice may be in the feces or near the anus; these are segments from active tapeworms. Your best recourse if you suspect a tapeworm is to take a fecal sample to your vet for a reading, and have your vet treat any parasites you find. Your vet will also know more about local parasite problems and will help plan a proactive treatment for your pets. For example, in our part of Virginia, ticks and fleas are an awful menace, especially ticks. Tapeworms and hook worms are also prevalent. He checks for these parasites and proactively worms our cats at each visit. We also use a topical treatment to kill fleas and ticks, which greatly reduces their chance of getting these parasites and tapeworms. It's all part of good cat ownership and keeping your cats healthy.
Pierre and Whitey outside

Remember, to keep your cat healthy, make your pet's veterinarian your partner. Talk to your cat's vet if you have any problems, questions or concerns about your cat's health.

H is for Health and Common Health Problems in Cats on the A to Z blog challenge!


  1. Thankfully, aside from the occasional hairball, our cats are fairly healthy! Although, our one cat has an annoying but fairly mild skin issue caused by allergies.

    Tracy (Black Boots, Long Legs)

  2. It's really important, thanks for this post! When we had cats, we were also blessed with an amazing vet. He was knowledgeable, trustworthy, great with animals and was ready to come to the house when we had a common problem (we used to have 11 cats and 2 dogs). He was even trained in homeopathy for animals which we used a couple times too. It's funny how I'm always OK with me not going to the doctor but when my cats or dogs had a problem we always called the vet 😉

    Andrea from Music & Words blog
    Volunteer in Damyanti's D Company #atozchallenge