Cat Health Tips
Everyone wants their cat to stay fit and healthy so, to help, we’ve compiled a list of common health concerns that can affect your cat as well as some tips about what to look for when you are examining it. If you have any concerns about your animal it’s always wise to contact your vet.
Preventing health problems
It is said that prevention is better than cure- and this is certainly true when it comes to our cats. You should ensure that you cat is regularly vaccinated against common feline complaints and receives preventative worming and anti- flea medications from your vet. You should also try to regularly brush your cat’s teeth to help maintain her oral health. A high quality diet will also help keep your favourite feline in tip top condition as well.
When you run your hands over your cat, you should be able to feel and sometimes see their ribs relatively easily, with only a slight covering of fat. There should be a well-defined hourglass waist when viewed from above and a very slight belly/fat pad should be visible.
Your cat’s ears should always be clean and without any thick brown waxy discharge. There should also be no redness, itchiness or offensive smells.
Meanwhile, eyes should be bright and clear, with no signs of runniness, redness or soreness. There is usually no need to clean your cats ears, but if you need to then, using a soft damp piece of cotton wool, gently wipe the areas you can easily see. Never push anything down the ear canal - especially hard items - as they could cause severe damage to the ear drum.
Your cat's nose is usually soft and damp to the touch. There should be no crusting on the surface of a healthy nose, nor any discharges or bleeding.
Bad breath can indicate an underlying digestive or kidney problem. More commonly it is an indication of bacteria or plaque on the teeth or gums, which can lead to tooth decay and gum disease.
Teeth should be white with no excess tartar, and the gums should be a healthy pink (or black depending on skin pigmentation). Any signs of redness, swelling or bleeding should be investigated. Ask your vet or vet nurse to show you how to brush your cat’s teeth. Regular brushing using a special veterinary toothpaste and soft brush will help keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy.
Skin and Coat
Your cat’s skin can be pink or black depending on the pigments common to the breed, and the coat should be thick (depending on breed) and shiny with no broken hairs, bald patches, dandruff or fleas. Hair can be shed all year round, but it normally sheds the most in summer and autumn.
Eating and drinking
Cats don't appear to drink often (but rather like to drink from unusual sources), so always have a large bowl of clean water available. Make sure the water bowl is ceramic or metal (a plastic bowl can taint the flavour of water, discouraging your cat from drinking.) . It’s also considerate to use a wide flat bowl large enough to ensure that your cat’s whiskers do not have to touch the sides of the bowl while she drinks.
Cats can be fussy eaters, but it’s important to persevere with the high quality balanced cat food you have chosen for your cat- and most fussy felines will eventually eat what they have been given.
Occasional regurgitation of food and vomiting of hairballs can be normal for some cats, but regular vomiting can be associated with a wide variety of digestive complaints or systemic illnesses and so any signs of vomiting need to be investigated by your vet. Stools should be a consistent brown colour of solid texture, produced without any straining, blood or mucus present
If your cat is urinating often, or strains without urinating or defecating, then there is probably a problem with her lower urinary tract. If you find blood in your cat’s urine then contact your vet immediately. Similarly, if your male cat is unable to urinate, take him to your vet immediately as he may have a urinary tract blockage which is an emergency.
Cats are experts at concealing ailments, but generally if you notice your cat retreating from human contact then that’s usually a warning sign. Like people, all cats are different and some are naturally shy, so it’s crucial to notice a change in your cat’s normal behaviour. Ill cats can also start urinating in unusual locations or sometimes appear unusually aggressive for no apparent reason. Keep a close eye on things as cats are experts at hiding illness, but mood changes are a good indicator.