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Senior Cats – Health Issues to Look for as they Get Older

When you’ve been with your feline friend for as long as you can remember, it’s easy to forget that she may now be a senior. Yes, you read that right. Your cat is no longer the sprightly little furball she once was. In fact, she is aging. Once upon time cats were considered geriatrics at the age of eight. But thanks to progress in veterinary care and cat nutrition, Senior Cats can live well into their twenties (in human years). Despite this longer lifespan, cats will still be considered seniors as they reach year seven. It is inaccurate to say that a “cat year” is equal to seven human years. To be precise, a cat who is a year old is physiologically equal to a 16-year old person. And for every year after that, a cat year is equal to four years. Thus, a 10-year old cat is as old as a 53-year-old human. A cat that is 12 years old is about the same age as a 61-year-old human and so on.

As your cat ages, she will begin to show signs of slowing down. They will tend to sleep more and be less active. No longer the nimble kitten, they are less inclined to climb and jump. While these may seem normal for an older cat, symptoms like these could indicate serious health issues that should be addressed.

Common Health Issues Senior Cats Face
1.BRITTLE NAILS and THICKENED FOOT PADS – the first noticeable sign of aging is a change in a cat’s coat. What won’t be too obvious are brittle nails and thickened foot pads. Take extra care when clipping your senior cats nails. It may need to be clipped often since they won’t be scratching posts as often as their younger counterparts.
2.ARTHRITIS and DECREASED MOBILITY – Arthritis almost always occur in Senior Cats, especially if they’ve injured their joints early on. As with humans, arthritis can either cause slight or debilitating stiffness. You’d notice this if your cat has difficulty jumping or climbing a flight of stairs. Do not give anti-inflammatory or pain relief meds unless your vet prescribes it. Cats have 3.known sensitivities to many anti-inflammatory medications such as acetaminophen and aspirin.
DENTAL ISSUES – While dental disease can happen to cats of any age, at least 2/3 of older cats (three years and older) suffer from dental issues. This is a painful disease. As such, it can affect appetite and cause weight loss.
4.OBESITY – Senior cats, most especially neutered ones, are prone to obesity. Neutering doesn’t cause obesity but it’s a factor. Older, neutered cats eat more and are less active. To prevent obesity, portion your cat’s food and make sure he gets to work out daily.
5.HEART DISEASE – The most common heart issue that senior cats face is cardiomyopathy, a disease of the heart muscle. Heart disease can end in congestive heart failure. This is when the heart is no longer able to pump blood effectively and efficiently.
6.DIABETES – Diabetes results in an increased blood sugar level. Risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle and excessive weight. Cats who are diagnosed with diabetes will need insulin injections. But with aggressive treatment, remission of diabetes is possible. If remission isn’t possible, your cat will have to live with insulin injections for the rest of her life.
7.HYPERTHYROIDISM – this is a disease of the thyroid gland where excessive thyroid hormones are produced. Cats with hyperthyroidism will display weight loss despite a huge appetite. Other symptoms may include diarrhea, vomiting, an increase in water consumption, and increase in urine.
8.LOSS OF VISION – Cats with diabetes are most likely to suffer from loss of vision. This may cause cats to urinate and defecate in places where they shouldn’t. You may want to consider adding litter boxes around your home.

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Intestinal Parasites and Worms Common to Cats

A cat’s digestive tract can host a number of intestinal parasites. All cats will have acquired intestinal worms at some point. In fact, it is more unusual to have a cat that hasn’t been exposed to worms at all.

How do cats get worms?

Cats get worms by coming into contact with eggs or infected feces. They step on feces and ingest them while grooming themselves. Outdoor cats prey on rodents that have worm larvae in their tissues. When the cat eats the rodent and ingests the infected tissue, the worm larvae thrive and grow in the cat’s intestines. Other means include eating fleas with worm eggs or being bitten by worm larvae. Even kittens can get some types of roundworms while nursing from its infected mother.

Worms Common to Cats

CAT ROUNDWORMS: These spaghetti-like intestinal parasites are the most common in cats. Adult worms are three to four inches long. Adult cats can acquire cat roundworms by ingesting infected rodents or infected cat’s feces. Kittens are not spared. Nursing kittens can get these types of worms from an infected mother’s milk. They may look normal but may have poor hair coat or suffer from stunted growth. Cat roundworms can cause parasites blockage in small kittens. In older cats, a heavy infestation can lead to a poor appetite, weakness, diarrhea, and a tender abdomen. Adult worms can sometimes be seen in the stool, rarely in vomit.

People can get infected with cat roundworms by ingesting eggs found in the soil (via poorly washed fruits and vegetables). Eggs that hatch into larvae can travel through body tissues, leading to severe organ problems and even blindness. Parents and guardians of little children must be cautious of sandboxes as these are attractive places for cats to poop.

CAT HOOKWORMS: These intestinal parasites reside in the small intestine and are smaller than cat roundworms. It is less than an inch long. Since cat hookworms feed on blood, its presence can cause severe anemia. Hookworm eggs are passed in the stool and then later hatch into larvae. Cats can get infected through ingestion or mere skin contact. If acquired via skin penetration, cat hookworms can result in skin irritation and sores. Common signs that a cat is infected include diarrhea and a decreased appetite. People infected with cat hookworms may develop itchy skin lesions and gastrointestinal infections.

CAT TAPEWORMS: Cat tapeworms are long (around four to 28 inches), flat, and look like grains of rice. Infestation can cause weight loss and vomiting. Cats acquire tapeworms through an intermediate host such as an infected rodent or flea. You know your cat is infected because tapeworm segments or actual sections of the cat tapeworm are visible on the cat’s fur or hind end. You can even find cat tapeworm segments crawling on the floor.

How are Cat Worms Diagnosed and Treated?

Cat worms are diagnosed through a physical exam, an examination of your cat’s stool sample under a microscope, or blood test.

Treatments are given by mouth at intervals. Doses are dependent on the type of cat worm and degree of infestation.

If you are a cat parent, the most loving thing you can do is to be proactive. Have your feline children get a regular blood and fecal exam. Be meticulous with the litter box by cleaning and changing it frequently. Protect your cat by strictly adhering to a regimen of flea prevention (oral meds, topical applications or collars). Protect yourself as well. Always wash your hands and wear gloves when cleaning the litter box. Wear gloves while gardening as outdoor cats use gardens as litter boxes.

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Cat Flu – Symptoms, Causes and Prevention

Did You Know that Cats Can Get the Flu Too?

Influenza (Flu) is not just about people. Your cat may also get this viral infection. Although most cats recover completely from influenza(Cat Flu), it can be particularly difficult in young, older or immune-deficient cats.

Causes of Cat Flu

The symptoms of influenza are often caused by exposure to “Feline Calicivirus” (FCV) or feline viral rhinotracheitis virus (FVR). Viruses spread when an infected cat coughs or sneezes and your cat inhales infected air droplets or when your cat comes in contact with a bowl of water, a blanket, a toy, a sandbox, or other objects that contain the infected cat’s saliva. Cats become lifelong carriers once they get infected with other cat flu. You can be an unintended source of cat flu. Because the virus can survive for hours on surfaces, as long as it stays wet, you can take it home with your clothes or shoes, without knowing it.

Some Common Symptoms of Cat Flu
Your cat might experience many of the same symptoms that you have when you have the flu. Some of the most common signs and symptoms include:

  • Dehydration
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Sneeze
  • Joint pain
  • Red or pink eyelids
  • Eye discharge
  • Scratchy voice when meowing
  • Ulcers in the mouth or in and around the eyes
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fatigue
  • Mostly cases of feline influenza last from 10 days to three weeks. Your cat may feel sick about two to five days after exposure to a virus.

Contact the Veterinarian

Veterinary care is important if your cat is very young or old, has a disease that has compromised the immune system, or a disease or chronic condition, such as kidney failure or diabetes. These animals are more likely to develop pneumonia or other secondary infections and should be carefully monitored and promptly treated for complications.

If your pet develops any of the symptoms of cat flu then consulting your veterinarian is a good idea. Often it is possible to make a diagnosis based on these symptoms and the veterinarian might want to confirm your pet’s diagnosis with blood and urine tests and X-rays in some cases. If you suspect that your cat is suffering from cat flu, tell your veterinarian when you make an appointment.

Antibiotics are not helpful in treating viruses, however, your vet can offer treatments for your cat to prevent complications and make your cat more comfortable. For example, sore mouth ulcers can force your pet to stop drinking water, which can lead to dehydration. During your visit, your cat may receive intravenous fluids to restore the normal balance of fluids and electrolytes.

Preventing Cat Flu with Vaccines
Vaccines for feline herpes virus (FHV-1) and feline calicivirus (FCV) are always combined, as these two viruses together are the main causes of upper respiratory tract infections in cats (cat flu).
How to Make Your Cat More Comfortable?
It is not surprising that cats with cat flu are often miserable. You can make your cat more comfortable by trying some of these tips:

Use a cool mist spray to facilitate breathing. (Be sure to keep it out of the reach of your cat).
Clean the discharge of eyes and mouth with a damp cloth.
Provide a variety of foods to encourage your pet to eat.
Move the cat little closer to your cat’s favorite resting place.
Install a warm bed in a quiet part of the house away from drafts.
The vaccination of your cat can provide protection from the flu. Although the vaccine is effective against the most common flu strains, your cat may still be ill if she is infected with a less common or new strain of influenza.
Separating a sick cat from a healthy cat is important if you have multiple cats. Often wash sheets and blankets and regularly clean hard surfaces to protect your other cats from getting sick.
Are you worried that your cat is suffering from cat flu or other illness? Immediate veterinary treatment can help your pet recover and avoid serious complications. Contact us today for a practical appointment.

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Common Cat Diseases That Can Affect Your Furry Friend

As a responsible cat owner in Naples, it is important to have an idea of what cat diseases may affect your pet. Cats can be affected by many common diseases—infectious and non-infectious. Although there are certain cat diseases that cannot be prevented, most common diseases in cats can be prevented by vaccination, proper nutrition, regular grooming and health check-ups.

Common Cat Diseases
Feline Panleukopenia

What is feline panleukopenia?
Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious and deadly disease in cats. It is also known as infectious enteritis, feline distemper, feline ataxia and cat plague. The disease is caused by a virus (parvovirus).

How can my cat get the infection?
Susceptible cats may get the disease from other cats through direct or indirect contact. Direct contact with the infected cat’s urine, blood, fecal material, nasal secretions, vomitus and parasites that feed on the infected animal’s blood can cause transfer of the disease.

Indirect contact happens when a susceptible cat comes in contact with the beddings, food dishes, cages, even the clothing and shoes of the handlers of infected cat. Moreover, pet shops, catteries, human shelters and other areas where infected cats frequent can be sources of infection for other susceptible cats.

How can I know my cat has the disease?
The symptoms of this disease usually appear within 2 to 10 days after a cat’s exposure to the virus.

The signs and symptoms of the disease include:

– Fever

– Depression

– Loss of appetite

– Abdominal pain

– Vomiting and dehydration

– Extreme thirst

– Anemia

– Bloody diarrhea

What is the treatment for cats with feline panleukopenia?
Cats suspected to suffer from the disease should undergo intensive fluid therapy to address dehydration. Sick cats should also be given antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infection. Secondary bacterial infection occurs as a result of an initial infection, which is in this case, is feline panleukopenia infection. The initial infection provides the favorable environment for bacteria to multiply uncontrollably resulting to a more severe infection.

How can feline panleukopenia be prevented?
The disease, generally speaking, can be prevented by proper vaccination of kittens. Vaccination usually starts when kittens reach 12 weeks old. A booster shot is given in 2-4 weeks (3-4 weeks is ideal). Then, a year-after vaccination is given and same shot is given every after 3 years. However, this vaccination program can be adjusted depending on the prevailing circumstance in Naples. Your vet in Naples will be able to tell you the most suitable vaccination program for your cat.

Upper respiratory infections (Feline Respiratory Disease complex)

What is feline respiratory disease complex?
Feline respiratory disease complex includes those illnesses that show symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (e.g. rhinosinusitis, runny eyes and nose, salivation, and oral ulcers).

Upper respiratory tract infections are caused by many pathogens, namely feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), feline calicivirus (FCV), Chlamydia felis, or combination of these infections.

Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) virus and feline calicivirus (FCV) are the most common cause of upper respiratory infections in cats.

How can my cat get the infection?
Susceptible cats can get the disease through the air or through direct or indirect contact with an infected animal.

How will I know my cat has the disease?
Signs and symptoms that your cat has upper respiratory tract infection include:

– Fever

– Intense sneezing

– Runny eyes and nose (discharges later becomes thick and mucus-like)

– Severe cough

– Swelling of the eyelids

– Excessive salivation

– Ulcers in the mouth (results to difficulty in eating and drinking)

– Depression

– Lethargy

– Loss of appetite

What will happen if the disease is left untreated?
If left untreated, the disease may be complicated by secondary bacterial infections leading to abortions and generalized infections (in the case of FVR).

Is there a treatment for the disease?
There is no specific treatment for the disease and the treatment is largely symptomatic and supportive.

The treatment includes intravenous fluid therapy to keep the cat hydrated, antibiotics to fight secondary bacterial infection, medications to keep the eyes and the nose clear and unclogged (e.g. decongestants, antihistamines), and supportive treatment that will make the cat comfortable and well rested.

The owner can also help the cat by frequently removing the discharges from the nose and the eyes. Lysine may help reduce the severity of FVR infections by interfering with the replication of the virus.

How can upper respiratory infections be prevented?
Vaccines are available against Chlamydia felis, FVR and FCV.

Aside from vaccination, other measures to protect your cat from getting respiratory infections include avoiding exposure to sick cats, avoiding stress and overcrowding.

For more information on cat health and cat diseases consult your Naples Veterinarians.

Keywords/Tag: Naples, common cat diseases, feline panleukopenia virus, upper respiratory tract infections in cats, feline viral rhinotracheitis, feline calicivirus infection, rabies in cats

Links:
Feline panleukopenia

http://www.petwave.com/Cats/Health/Multi-System/Feline-Distemper.aspx

Vaccinations for cats

http://pets.webmd.com/cats/guide/core-vaccinations-for-cats