Most anyone would agree that cats are fairly independent creatures and are pretty good at taking care of themselves. But even the most meticulous feline will experience health issues, especially as they age. The key for every cat owner is to be aware of these possible issues, know the signs to watch for, and hopefully prevent them from occurring.
To help with this, we share here not only the top cat health problems, but also some of the preventative measures you can take to help your feline fur baby live the best life possible.
CAT JOINT STIFFNESS AND ARTHRITIS
Unfortunately, as with people, no kitten stays energetic and flexible forever. One day he may be leaping to the top of the bookcase, and another he is having difficulty just climbing to the top of the stairs. As cats age their muscle tone decrease and their joints may become inflamed due to conditions such as arthritis, degenerative joint disease, or even injuries that are just slow to heal.
Some preventative measures include ensuring your cat continues to be active as they age. If your cat is already experiencing problems, you can help them by ensuring their cat litter tray and beds are easy for him to climb in and out of. Or setting up ramps out of plywood covered in carpet to help your cat climb up stairs or onto his preferred patch on the couch.
Depending on your cat’s situation, explore alternative treatments such as massage, physiotherapy, as well as hip and joint supplements such as ones containing Glucosamine and Chondroitin which can be used to reduce your cat’s pain and inflammation. In addition, there are many natural and homeopathic remedies such as the BestLife4Pets Cat Joint and Hip pain relief remedy that uses a special combination of plants to help reduce inflammation, making it easier for your cat to continue to move around.
EYE DISCHARGE, INFLAMMATION AND BLINDNESS
Cats can experience a number of different eye issues from a mild irritations that cause guppy eyes, to conjunctivitis and other eye issues that show up as discharge coming from the eye, all the way to severe problems such as cataracts or blindness. If your pet starts rubbing their eyes or their sight starts to deteriorate and they begin to bump into things, the first thing to do is see a vet.
Some of the causes of eye irritations and eye discharge can include: feline upper respiratory issues, blocked tear ducts, pink eye (conjunctivitis), inflamed cornea, allergies and many more possible issues. Treatment for dealing with these eye issues vary widely from eye drops or ointment to antibiotics - and depend largely on determining the root cause of the issue as the problem can stem from another area of the body and not necessarily the eyes. This is why it is important to monitor your cat's overall health as well as getting their eyes checked.
As cats age, it is also normal for a cat's eyes to become cloudy with age so as they get older you should have your veterinarian check your cat for cataracts, glaucoma, and other eye conditions during regular check-ups.
One other thing to watch for with a cat that is having trouble seeing is cat anxiety.
A cat that is in pain or suddenly stops seeing can experience a lot of anxiety and stress so it is equally important to make sure to keep them as calm as possible and keep to their familiar routine. One of the ways to help a cat that is going blind is to try not to change the location of the furniture in your home as this can frighten or confuse your cat. If you need to make changes, carefully observe your cat for a few days while adjusting to the new environment to make sure they do not hurt themselves.
BLADDER STONES, UTI AND KIDNEY DISEASE
The kidneys are a weak area for cats and many end up with some sort of issues with their kidneys, be-it kidney stones, difficulty urinating, bladder crystals, feline urinary tract infections (UTIs) or kidney disease which leads to kidney failure. Kidney disease falls into two main categories: acute and chronic. Acute kidney failure comes on suddenly and is usually the result of toxins, infection or shock. Chronic kidney failure occurs over time from the toxins that build up in the kidneys causing infection and blockage. Other conditions, such as dental disease, high blood pressure or thyroid issues could also contribute to kidney problems.
Despite a cat's propensity to developing some kind of kidney related problem, there are still preventative measures that you can take:
Cats are carnivores so feeding them a diet that is meat based rather than plant based will make it easier for them to process and digest their food.
Feed cats moist food instead of dry kibble. Cats have very sensitive stomachs and digesting dry food is much harder on their system
Limit their exposure to toxic substances, both inside and outside the home
Have plenty of water on hand for them to drink
Give them natural supplements like Milk Thistle, which is a natural anti-oxidant that helps keep the liver functioning, and BestLife4Pets Kidney Support for Cats which flushes out toxins from the renal system to help support kidney function
DEAFNESS AND HEARING LOSS
Going deaf is another sign of growing old with many cats starting to experience some hearing loss after the age of 10. Most of the time we don't notice this change until the cat has already lost a significant amount of their high-frequency hearing.
You as the owner, who spends the most time with your kitty, are in the best position to spot when your cat is starting to experience hearing issues. Some of the early signs of cat deafness can include:
not responding to being called
decreased response to sudden and startling noises
Hearing loss can also make a cat extra sensitive as well as be easily frightened.
Deaf cats tend to rely more on their remaining senses, especially vision and touch. They may feel the floorboards vibrate as you walk by and could be more sensitive to vibrations from loud music or the slamming of a door. Because of this deaf cats will often move to a position where they will not get startled. They may want to hang out in very high places, like the top of the refrigerator or a bookshelf.
If you notice that your cat is going deaf, use a heavier stride when walking into a room or gently tap on the floor to let them know when you are coming near. To help guide them, you can use a laser pointer to show the way in front of you as you walk. If you notice that your cat is just starting to lose their hearing anticipate their need for security by creating lookout spots ahead of time in various areas of the home.
CAT PERIODONTAL DISEASE AND TOOTH LOSS
When it comes to oral hygiene, it is better to prevent than to cure, and this is especially true when it comes to gum disease. Once the gums have deteriorated, there is no way to regenerate them and too many cats end up having their teeth extracted. To avoid issues down the road you can help your cat by getting them used to having their teeth brushed from an early age. Getting your kitty comfortable with brushing will help you as they age. But if your finicky feline won't let you brush their teeth you can also feed them a special diet or treats containing foods designed to prevent plaque buildup. If your older cat has sensitive teeth, try to feed them moist foods or dry foods soaked in water to make it easier for them to chew.
As cats age, dental issues may be unavoidable so if you discover that your beloved pet has swollen gums, periodontal disease, stomatitis (painful mouth sores), or is refusing to eat because of the pain in their mouth, take them to a vet for an examination. Infections in the mouth and gums can spread to the kidneys and heart, so it is best to get it checked right away.
You can also take steps to improve your cat's oral health and prevent issues with some excellent natural dental cat treatments and supplements that can help reduce the inflammation and infection in the mouth, provide relief from tooth pain, ease swelling and redness of gums, and reduce the occurrence of mouth ulcers.
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