Keeping Your Cat Healthy Takes Diligence and Teamwork

cats hide illnessesNo one knows your cat like you do. That’s why keeping a close eye on your feline friend is so important to keeping her healthy. Unfortunately, there’s a catch. Cats are notoriously adept at hiding their discomfort, pain, malaise and other symptoms of disease. This is an instinctual reaction that comes from when cats were wild and didn’t want predators to see their weaknesses. Because of this behavior, you may not notice any signs of illness until the disease has reached an advanced state. Here are some things you need to pay particular attention to, and notify your veterinarian if you notice anything unusual.


Is Your Kitty Acting Differently than Usual?

A common way that cats hide their illnesses is to hide themselves. Sick cats will often find a quiet, out-of-the-way spot such as under the bed or in a closet to hang out. She may lie with her head on the floor and her back hunched. Is she meowing more than usual or in a different pitch? Is she neglecting her grooming to the point where her fur is dull and disheveled? Does she seem disinterested in her surroundings or reluctant to play or jump up on places where she typically loves to lie? These are general symptoms that something isn’t quite right. Take note and if she isn’t back to her usual self in a day or two, give your veterinarian a call. Better safe than sorry.


Has Your Cat’s Food and Water Intake Changed?

Is your cat suddenly not eating? It could be anything from a mild gastric upset to a more serious illness such as a thyroid problem, parasites or cancer to a foreign body lodged in her intestines, which can quickly become life threatening. Or maybe her appetite is stronger than normal. This could be a sign of diabetes or hyperthyroidism. Increased thirst can be related to diabetes or kidney problems.


Is Your Cat Losing or Gaining Weight?

Have you noticed your feline friend is looking a little anorexic? It could be due to a thyroid problem, diabetes, parasites or even cancer. Or perhaps the opposite is true, and she’s packing on the pounds.  It could be cancer, hypothyroidism, heart or liver problems or pyometra (infection of the uterus). Either way, any sudden weight change is a reason to consult with your veterinarian.


Have You Noticed Any Changes in Litterbox Habits?

Is your cat peeing or defecating more or less often? Are her stools harder or softer or a different color than usual? Or perhaps she’s stopped using her litterbox altogether? Any of these can be signs that something is not right. Urinary changes can mean kidney or bladder problems as well as diabetes or other conditions. Changes in stool clor can mean some type of metabolic disorder. Diarrhea or constipation can have many causes so monitor the litter box and seek help if it continues.

Most of these things to watch for are general signs of something not quite right. Often they signify something minor, but because cats are so good at hiding health problems, by the time you notice a problem, it could be a big problem. Your veterinarian is your best ally in keeping your cat healthy, but you have to do your part too. Don’t skip your cat’s annual wellness exam, keep her current on vaccinations and watch her for any change in habits or health. If you have any concerns or need to schedule an appointment, call Powell Veterinary Service at 970-352-9164, and together, we can help ensure a long, healthy life for your furry feline.