Three common health issues in cats

It’s no fun to see our cats sick, and often they hide it so well! The most common illnesses among cats tend to be diabetes, obesity and abscesses. Let’s take a look at each of these illnesses that cause so much discomfort and pain to our feline friends.

What is it? Diabetes mellitus

Risks and symptoms This complex illness of the endocrine system is caused by the inability to produce enough insulin to balance blood sugar (glucose) levels. This condition is thought to be associated with risk factors such as obesity, age, a sedentary lifestyle, high-carbohydrate diets, medications such as corticosteroids, genetic predisposition, hormonal imbalance and disease of the pancreas. If left untreated, it can lead to weight loss, loss of appetite, vomiting, dehydration, severe depression, coma and even death. Although it is seen in cats with the correct body weight, it is more common in older, obese and male cats. Without immediate and effective treatment, this condition is fatal. The main symptoms are increased thirst and increased urination. Other symptoms include inappropriate elimination, change in appetite, weight loss, change in walking, decreased activity and vomiting.

Diagnosis and treatment The diagnosis can be challenging because cats can have abnormally high blood glucose levels just from stress. The diagnosis will be made by evaluating the cat’s history, physical examination and blood and urine tests. A diabetic cat will excrete glucose in her urine. These tests will be essential to confirm whether it is definitely diabetes and not another illness with similar symptoms. The treatment will depend on the severity of the disease. Usually long-acting insulin injections once or twice per day will be effective for diabetic cats who aren’t normally ill. Dietary management is essential to keep your cat’s sugar levels stable and regulate blood glucose after meals. Discuss your cat’s diet with your vet and feed her the best-quality food you can afford. Regular blood glucose scores must be taken to ensure the correct levels.

What is it? Obesity

One of the most frequent issues cat owners are faced with in today’s life is obesity, which in turn can lead to serious health problems. The primary reason why cats become obese is quite obvious: they consume more calories than they burn. Often cats are kept indoors due to safety hazards outside, therefore they get less exercise than when they are free to roam to their heart’s desire. Because they are mainly indoors, they tend to eat more or more often out of boredom, especially if they have permanent access to food. Many times owners are uncertain about portion size and how many times per day a cat needs to be fed.

Your cat’s diet Follow a diet plan where the cat will lose weight gradually. If there is a drastic reduction in food intake, it can lead to a potentially life-threatening condition called hepatic lipidosis. It is essential that the cat does not lose more than 2% of her body weight per week. The diet must be specifically formulated for active weight loss, otherwise essential nutrients can be lost in the process. Remember that cats are carnivores and need a diet rich in proteins and fats with little carbohydrates. That is why you should avoid giving your cat treats, as these snacks are usually high in carbohydrates, which actually encourage cats to eat even more. More fibre in her diet helps her to feel fuller for longer, as it provides volume and takes longer to digest.

Along with her newly adapted diet, she needs adequate, regular exercise (especially if she is only indoors) to shed the excess weight. In order for the cat to partake in a successful weight-loss programme and achieve positive results, you as owner will have to be dedicated and well enlightened to assist in giving her exercise and the correct food portions. Continuous monitoring of her weight is essential.

What is it? Abscesses

Causes and symptoms A cat abscess frequently occurs as a result of bites during fights, especially in cats roaming outside. A cat’s mouth has many bacteria, which can enter the puncture wound and get trapped inside. The bacteria multiply and the result is an abscess. Abscesses are swollen, hot and painful. If they open, a thick yellowish discharge may be seen and may have a foul smell. If they do not open, the cat may become ill. An abscess is often hidden under the fur and the owner may only notice illness when the cat is acting depressed and not eating. Abscesses are usually found on the head, neck, limbs and base of the tail.

How is it treated? The area will be clipped and cleansed and the abscess lanced and drained. The wound will be flushed with an antiseptic solution and antibiotics will be prescribed. In most cases cats respond well after the abscess is opened.


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