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Keeping Your Feline Friend Healthy: FAQS
February 1, 2024

The month of February is an important one for our feline friends. It’s National Cat Health Month! It’s also Beat the Heat Month, Feline Fix by Five Month, National Prevent a Litter Month, and Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Of course, these all promote spaying and neutering. While these are crucial, they are only one part of keeping your cat healthy and happy. A Potomac, MD veterinarian sheds some light on this topic below.

What Are the Signs That My Cat Isn’t Feeling Well?

Our feline pals are a bit secretive here. It is natural for Fluffy to try and hide signs of illness. This is because predators tend to seek out weak animals in the wild. It is possible that you will not realize something is wrong with your pet until she is quite ill.

Here are some things to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Litterbox Avoidance
  • Hiding
  • Uncharacteristic Vocalizations (Or Lack Thereof)
  • Unkempt Fur
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Discolored Gums
  • Discharge
  • Sudden Weight Loss Or Gain
  • Grumpiness
  • Uncharacteristic Behavior

You’ll also want to watch for anything that seems out of character for your kitty. Our feline pals are all unique. For instance, a normally affectionate cat may hide or hiss when they feel unwell. Paying attention to your feline pal will make it easier to notice small changes that may signal something is amiss. If you notice any of these symptoms, or anything else that seems off, contact your veterinarian immediately.

What Illnesses Are Common For Cats? 

Despite Fluffy’s belief that she’s invincible, she is just as vulnerable to illness and injury as any other animal. Kitties can suffer from a wide variety of health problems. However, some are more common than others.

Among them are:

  • Cancer
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Diabetes
  • Dental Issues
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Kidney Disease
  • Arthritis
  • FeLV

Being overweight and/or infested with parasites can also take a huge toll on your pet’s health. 

Regular veterinary care can help protect your cat from many types of illness and injury. Make sure you take her to the Potomac, MD veterinary clinic on a regular basis.

When Do Cats Usually Start Having Health Problems?

Fluffy usually ages gracefully and slowly, but you may begin to notice some changes around the age of ten or after. These changes may be mild and gradual at first. She may start sleeping more, and she may not be as frisky as she once was. Over time, you may notice her gaining weight, and maybe even having trouble jumping and climbing.

Several sources disagree on what age cats should be considered seniors: some say nine, while others suggest it’s ten, eleven, or twelve. Cornell Feline Health Center puts that number at 12.

Once your pet reaches her golden years, your vet may recommend more frequent visits. You may also need to adjust Fluffy’s care regimen. She might benefit from a special diet, and may appreciate having ramps or stairs. Senior cats also sometimes need help keeping their fur clean. Pay close attention to Fluffy, and watch for signs that something is off.

Is Stress Bad For Cats?

Your kitty’s mental health very much affects her physical health. Over the past few decades, we’ve learned a lot about the harmful effects of stress on both people and pets. The risks include things like heart attacks, digestive issues, and, for people, trouble sleeping. If Fluffy is scared or stressed, she may stop eating, and/or she may cower in a closet or corner. Some kitties will over or under groom themselves. None of these things are good for kitties! Keep that motor going by paying lots of attention to Fluffy, and offering her things like toys, comfy beds, catnip, and, of course, lap space. If your house is a bit loud, make sure she has a quiet spot of her own, such as an enclosed kitty condo or cat tower.

How Often Should I Take My Cat To My Potomac, MD Veterinary Clinic?

This one will likely depend on your pet’s age and health. Kittens will need to visit us several times during that crucial first year, as they need not only their initial exams and vaccines, but also parasite control. Spay/neuter surgery is also important, as is microchipping. This schedule will change a bit over time. Healthy adult kitties that stay inside may only need to visit once a year, but those who are allowed outside may need to visit more often. Senior cats and those with health issues may also need to visit more frequently. Ask your Potomac, MD veterinarian for recommendations.

What Can I Do To Keep My Cat Healthy?

First things first: make sure that Fluffy has good food, fresh water, clean litter, and regular veterinary care.

It is equally important to keep your feline buddy safe from injuries. The most important thing you can do is keep your cat inside. Cats that are allowed to roam outside face a variety of dangers! Your furry friend may love the Great Outdoors, but as soon as she goes out, she could be threatened by cars, traffic, weather, loose cats, chemicals, parasites, and, unfortunately, some people.

It is also crucial to petproof your home. Keep anything that isn’t safe for your pet in secure spots. Sharp or small objects are a common hazard. This includes beads, buttons, craft kits, safety pins … the list goes on. Anything ropy or stringy is also a concern. 

Toxins are also a hazard. Poisoning is unfortunately not an uncommon occurrence for cats, and can be caused by various items that are commonly found in households. Among these items, plants are a significant culprit. Lilies, in particular, are highly toxic: even minimal contact with them, such as nibbling a leaf, can result in organ failure for felines. For additional information on toxic and non-toxic plant species, visit the ASPCA website here

However, plants are not the sole concern when it comes to poisonous substances. Household cleaners, automotive products, detergents, drain openers, paint, turpentine…the list is extensive. Consult your Potomac, MD veterinarian for further guidance on this matter.

How Can I Check My Cat’s Health At Home?

Hopefully this goes without saying, but your veterinarian is the ultimate authority on this. However, there are ways to monitor Fluffy’s health in between appointments. Your cat’s appearance, appetite, and behavior can all give you plenty of insight.

Cats that are healthy usually have bright, clear eyes. They may spend a lot of time sleeping, but when they are awake, they should also be alert, curious, and, of course, a bit mischievous. Fluffy should also have soft, clean fur. She should breathe quietly, at least when she isn’t meowing at you. 

You can also discreetly check your pet’s condition whenever you pet, hold, or let her snooze on your lap. Keep an eye out for things like swelling, bumps, heat, stiffness, bruising, or skin problems. Weighing your feline pal can also help alert you to weight gain or loss.

Contact your Potomac, MD veterinarian immediately if you notice anything amiss.

Conclusion: Cats are usually hardy, but they are vulnerable to illness and injury. Keep your pet happy, healthy, and safe by providing proper veterinary care, good food, comfy shelter, and doing some petproofing.

Do you have questions about caring for your feline pal? Contact us, your local Potomac, MD pet hospital, anytime!