No matter how much love and attention you give, felines experience cat illnesses. Recognizing cat health symptoms is challenging because, unlike their human caregiver, cats are rather stoic soldiers. They don't go around grumping when they have a belly ache. Here are 5 Hot Cat Health Conditions that should alert you that your feline is fighting off sickness or injury. #1-- A Loss of Appetite Train yourself to be a responsive and observant caregiver. Take notice when a cat has stopped eating or skipped a meal. If your cat experiences trouble eating, drinking or swallowing, then there is a cause for concern. It is a big RED, FLASHING LIGHT that something is wrong. A change or lack of appetite can happen slowly or suddenly. Recognizing a change in appetite can be complicated if food is left out for cats to share in a multi-cat household. Her appetite may be off because she is struggling with a hairball or she ate a bad mouse. Far worse, she consumed a poisoned mouse and she is now poisoned, or she is in the early stages of a serious illness like kidney disease or fatty liver syndrome. When your cat misses a couple of meals it is time for a visit to the vet. Do not wait to see if she is going to suddenly start eating. The sudden drop in food intake causes damage to the liver. This turns into a vicious cycle where the cat won't eat because her liver is sick and no food intake aggravates the liver damage. #2 -- She Is Lethargic A noticeable change in your cat's energy levels is also a good indicator that something is awry. Cats do sleep a lot, as much as 18-20 hours a day. However, if you notice she has zero interest in her beloved toys or catnip, she is quietly telling you something is wrong. She has pain or a fever and feels lousy. #3 -- She's Losing Weight She probably isn't eating well. When cats are sick they stop eating. When you lift your cat does she feel lighter than normal? Weight loss goes hand-in-hand with loss of appetite, but it can also be a sign of kidney disease, thyroid disease, diabetes and cancer. Weight loss is considered a serious sign of cat illness and should prompt an immediate trip to the veterinarian. #4 -- She's Drinking A Lot of Water (Urinating A Lot Too!) Does she fall to sleep while drinking at the water bowl? The good news is that she's still drinking. A increased need for water leads to an increase in urine. Obviously the two are linked together. After all, if she takes a lot of water in, it has got to go out sometime. Common causes of excessive thirst and urination include kidney disease, diabetes and elevated thyroid levels. #5 -- Urination Is Painful or Interrupted When a cat strains using the litter box, has accidents outside the box, squats for a long time, cries, or repositions herself over and over, you have spotted a problem indicating one or more cat illnesses. If you could view her urine under a microscope, odds are you would find traces of blood. Male cats may lick at the tip of the penis or suddenly lose his appetite, vomit or become very vocal during urination. More than likely he is experiencing a complete blockage. A male cat that is straining during urination is having a fire-alarm emergency. Get him to the vet pronto. When a female cat strains during urination it may not be a complete blockage because her urethra (the tube that drains the bladder to the outside) is wider than a male cat's and is less likely to clog. However, if she can't urinate that means she can't eliminate her body's liquid waste. A blocked cat becomes ill in 24 hours and can die in 72 hours -- don't wait for the weekend to pass! Your veterinarian can unblock the urethra by inserting a catheter. This removes the obstruction allowing the urine to drain. It is most easily accomplished with early detection of the problem. Urinary problems can be caused by a number of things, including bladder stones in the urethra, dietary causes, bacterial infections and the least understood problem, feline lower urinary tract disorder (FLUTD). This illness can be related to stress or a virus similar to a human's cold sore. Some cat illness can be handled with gentle care and love at home, but other conditions are potentially life-threatening requiring immediate medical attention. As a feline caregiver, there is a certain amount of on-the-job training, but delaying a trip to the vet or waiting to see if things improve can be expensive or even cost your feline her life. Your relationship with your cat is what helps you get through your personal trials and rough times. If you lost her because you failed to recognize a life-threatening, but treatable condition would you always regret your ignorance? The answer is obvious isn't it? Bottom line: Don't be shy about calling your vet. Also, find a trusted resource to coach you through cat behavior or cat care questions and your chances for having a delightful, loving and long-lived feline partner become a whole lot better. Kate Rieger has been owned by 15+ cats and is a champion of spay and release for her feral cat neighbors. She is partnered with the Kentucky S.N.I.P clinic and together through adoptions, education programs and spay/neuter efforts, they provide affordable solutions to reducing the pet overpopulation crisis in the Kentuckiana region. While she would like to extend the concept of spay/neuter to some of the human population, she swears she's only into altering cats. Never one to be short on opinion, she is on good behavior during her speaking engagements at local schools, organizations, Fortune 100 companies, and on local and national radio talk shows.
One of the scariest diagnoses for your dog is cancer. Dogs health problems are always difficult, but when the investigation leads to cancer, it is very stressful and emotionally draining for everyone involved. Unfortunately, cancer is fairly prevalent in dogs over ten years of age with 50% of deaths being cancer related. The clinical signs of some types of cancer mimic other illness making it hard to determine the causes of many dogs health problems. If only your puppy could tell you where it hurts, right? Since they can't, here are some specific things to keep an eye out for allowing for early detection and a better chance of survival. Signs to Watch For * A new growth or change in an existing lump * Vomiting or diarrhea * Problems going potty * Bleeding or unusual drainage * Loss of appetite or lethargy * Change in gait or balance Just like humans, cancer can involve any of your dog's systems such as gastrointestinal, skin, blood, lymph nodes, etc. Certain breeds seem to be more susceptible than others to specific types of the disease. Cocker Spaniels, Boxers, Golden Retrievers, and large or giant breed dogs are some of the more affected breeds, but there is also a genetic influence with dogs health problems. Genetic Research and Dogs The ongoing battle with cancer hits home with many people. Most of us know of someone who has struggled with this horrible disease, many times even a family member. Those of us who consider our pets as part of the family know all too well that dogs can be affected by cancer too. Dogs have strong genetic similarities to humans, meaning they can get the same types of cancers with corresponding symptoms and responses to cancer-fighting treatments. Because a dog's life-span is so much shorter than a human, once they are diagnosed with cancer, their survival time period is also shorter. This is very heart-wrenching when it's your furry family member, but it has also brought about some new possibilities with cancer drug research. Since the disease progresses faster in dogs, reactions to treatments can be studied in a much more compressed time line. After running out of viable options, many pet owners are looking for answers and are willing to enroll their dog in clinical trials for testing cancer drugs. Because scientists have already analyzed the hereditary information or genome of different breeds of dogs, these studies may be able to unlock clues for one of the most dreaded of all dogs health problems and in turn, help humans find answers as well. When you see an unusual symptom with your dog, keep in mind that there are other health issues that have similar symptoms. Don't panic. Contact your vet to have a check up to help ease your mind and relieve any issues your dog might be having.