Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Forewarned is Forearmed: Keep On Top of Your Cat’s Health!

When I was younger and was the grateful human to several cats, I wish I’d known a bit more about what to watch for regarding their health.  After all, a lot of feline diseases can be minimized by early detection and treatment!  Here are a few common illnesses in cats and what you should watch out for:

  1. Urinary Tract Infection:  These are fairly common, just as in humans, and also fairly easy to remedy if spotted swiftly.  What to watch for:  your cat may seem to experience pain when urinating; may make more frequent trips to the litter box without producing much; may show traces of blood in their urine; may have accidents outside of the litterbox.  Make sure your kitty is getting plenty of water; even consider upping the amount of wet food you feed him.  Take your cat to the veterinarian for a round of antibiotics and your cat will be on the road to recovery.  You don’t want to wait around on this, as the infection could spread to the kidneys, or there could be a blockage somewhere–which can be fatal.
  2. Upper Respiratory Infection:  Again, something that is common in both humans and cats. These infections, since they are like the common cold, are contagious but usually only affect cats who go outside or who encounter other cats a lot.  The symptoms are the same as in humans—runny nose, fever, sneezing, coughing.  You can let it run its course for a few days, but if there’s no sign of improvement, take your kitty to the vet to make sure there isn’t a secondary infection, such as a bacterial one, developing.  Who knew we humans had so much in common with cats?
  3. Chronic Kidney Failure:  This is one I learned about the hard way, after caring for lots of different kitties with  Kidney problems tend to increase and worsen as cats get older, and they are extremely common.  Basically, as a cat ages her kidneys cease to function fully; since kidneys clean the blood, kidney failure can be serious. You may notice your cat all of a sudden drinking a lot of water, as her body attempts to supplement the fluids needed to remove toxins from the blood. Other symptoms may include constipation, lack of appetite, lethargy and possibly nausea or vomiting.  If you notice any of these symptoms, especially in a younger cat, get her checked out as soon as possible.  It’s also possible she ingested something that is causing kidney trouble, such as antifreeze.
  4. Diabetes Mellitus: If your cat is overweight, male, under a great deal of stress, or has hormonal abnormalities, he is at a higher risk for diabetes.  Just as in humans, however, diabetes can be managed and treated.  A diet with more fiber, as well as the use of insulin and—if needed—weight loss can help.  Signs of diabetes include weakness, extreme thirst, frequent urination, rapid weight loss, depression (believe it or not!), and abdominal pain.
  5. Feline Hyperthyroidism: This is usually caused by a benign tumor in the thyroid gland. It can be treated by removing the tumor, using medication, or injecting the thyroid with radioactive iodine.  What to watch for:  again, increased thirst and urination, weight loss, extreme hunger, rapid heartbeat, changes in the coat or in your kitty’s behavior, such as nervousness, excessive grooming, or increased meowing.


So… not exactly the happiest topic for the month of December, but one that is important.  Just remember to watch over your kitty, especially for these common signs of illness (increased thirst and urination, behavioral changes, and energy levels) – you might save his life!

~ Written by: Ashley Denham-Busse

Ashley Denham Busse has worked part-time for since 2006. is a professional pet-sitting company located in Old Town Alexandria, celebrating more than 12 years of providing daily walks and customized in-home pet care. Visit or email 

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