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3 Categories of Cat Illness Symptoms

Jul 3, 2008
If your cat isn't feeling good, you can imagine it's hard for her to clearly communicate that to you. To make it easier, then, you have to be very observant. Here are a few major areas of cat illness and symptoms to which you should be alert.

Since a radical change in your cat's behavior can be a sign of trouble, you'll want to note your cat's typical routine. Cats are very good at hiding discomfort and signs of illness, but if you notice a change in behavior, look more closely to see if there's a physical cause.

Elimination problems -- Cats may experience a number of issues involving urination, defecation, and litter boxes.

Some urinary tract problems can be life threatening. FLUTD (feline lower urinary tract disease) is a label for a group of problems that can involve crystals, stones, infection, or inflammation.

Cats self-groom regularly, but excessive licking in the anal or groin area can be a sign of illness. If your cat is urinating more often than normal, this can be a sign of an illness such as diabetes.

Occasional constipation is common in cats, and is most often caused by hairballs. Treatments are available for this, and include store bought hairball remedies as well as veterinarian prescribed treatments such as lactulose.

Impacted anal glands my also be a factor which will require treatment. It should be noted that long term constipation may lead to a serious bowel condition known as megacolon.

If your cat is howling or crying out while using the litter box, or makes frequent but unsuccessful trips to the box, she may have some physical problem that needs to be looked at. Also, a common sign of trouble is scooting across the floor while dragging the rear end.

If you notice that your cat is not using the litter box, always assume a physical cause may be at fault. If your cat is not urinating or defecating or is missing the litter box, contact your veterinarian.

Diarrhea may indicate intestinal disease and can lead to dehydration, which can be fatal. Other things to look for are evidence of blood in urine or feces, including black tarry stools.

Eye and mouth problems -- Check your cat's eyes for pupils of uneven size, cloudiness, or discharge. The nictating membrane, or haw, is a "third eyelid" that you will sometimes see when a cat's eyes are open. This is often an indication of disease.

Ulcers in the mouth, bad breath, and loose teeth are signs of disease. Pallor of the gums and lips is a sign that your cat may be anemic.

Hair and skin problems -- Poor coat or problem skin can be a sure sign of cat illness. In fact, the coat and skin of your cat can be used as a measure of overall health.

Certain cat illnesses will manifest as poor or oily looking coat. In addition, if a cat stops grooming, it's a sure sign of trouble.

Also look for swelling, hair loss, excessive dryness or flaking, or skin eruption or growths. Check your cat at least once per week for parasites.

There are certainly other health problems that your cat may encounter, but these are a few of the major categories. Keeping alert to your cat's routine, and being sensitive to any of the possible above problems is an integral part of cat care.
About the Author
Author Kurt Schmitt has created an online resource on cat illnesses including this list of over 70 cat illness problems
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