Just like us, a cat’s health changes with age. Because our pets age much faster than we do , it’s important to keep a close eye on your cat as he starts to gray.
Regardless of your kitty’s age, however, you always play a key role in helping him stay as healthy as possible. It may seem obvious, but your cat can’t tell you when he doesn’t feel well. He can’t describe symptoms, tell you his stomach hurts or that his joints are sore. Because of this, awareness of the most common signs of disease is one major way to help reduce your cat’s risk of becoming very ill.
Not convinced? Consider this: 10% of pets that appear healthy to their owners and their veterinarians during annual checkups have underlying diseases.1 That being said, here are the top ten reasons why your cat might be sick:
- Bad breath or drooling
- A change in behavior – shyness if your cat is usually friendly, or friendliness if your cat is usually withdrawn, for example
- Signs of aggression, such as hissing or scratching
- Increased chattiness – if your cat is usually quiet but is suddenly more vocal
- A haggard, unkempt appearance, including shedding
- Inappropriate elimination – urinating or defecating outside the litter box
- Increased frequency of urination or defecation
- Lots of vomiting and diarrhea
- A marked increase or decrease in thirst or appetite
- Rapid weight loss
- If your kitty displays one or more of these symptoms, it’s probably time to call your veterinarian.
What You Can Do About It
Because signs of disease are not always obvious, your veterinarian may recommend preventive care testing as part of your cat’s annual exam.
Preventive care testing often includes the following:
- Chemistry tests to evaluate kidney, liver, and pancreatic function, as well as sugar levels
- Antibody tests to identify if your pet has been exposed to tick-borne or other infectious diseases
- A complete blood count to rule out blood-related conditions
- Electrolyte tests to ensure your dog isn’t dehydrated or suffering from an electrolyte imbalance
- Urine tests to screen for urinary tract infection and other disease and to evaluate the ability of the kidneys to concentrate urine
- A thyroid test to determine if the thyroid gland is producing too little or more commonly too much thyroid hormone in older cats
- An ECG to screen for an abnormal heart rhythm, which may indicate underlying heart disease
Additional tests may be added on an individual basis. Your veterinarian will recommend the right course for your furry friend.
Preventive care screening not only helps to detect disease in its earlier stages, when it is most likely to respond to treatment, it also can help you avoid significant medical expense and risk to your cat’s health if an illness goes undetected. In addition, by establishing your pet’s normal baseline laboratory values during health, your veterinarian—and you—can more easily see when something is wrong with your pet. Annual screening is the best preventive medicine!
For more information about preventive testing, contact your veterinarian—your best resource for information about the health and well-being of your pet.
Posted January 30, 2013 in Cat Health