Cats may look independent most of the time, but it is important to know that cats are still vulnerable to a lot of health issues that may cause serious health issues. This is why as a cat parent, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses and know when to seek veterinary help as early as possible!
There’s a lot of common diseases in cats that can be hereditary, from an infection, or from their daily diet and environment whether they are an indoor or an outdoor cat. Some may not be as serious as others, but if they’re undetected and not treated as early as possible, they may become a serious health issue for your cat. Here are top 5 of the most common illnesses of cats in Singapore that you should watch out:
1. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FLUTD is several feline conditions that affect the lower urinary tract of cats or inflammation of the bladder and urethra of cats. Female and male cats can get FLUTD, and it often occurs in cats that are overweight or obese, those with underlying health issues, or cats that only eat dry food or kibble. Other important factors to consider are your kitty’s exposure to stressful conditions, a multi-cat household, and sudden changes in your cat's environment.
Some estimates report that as many as 3% of cats seen by vets have FLUTD, which is a group of feline diseases with multiple causes.What are the signs:
- Drinking more
- Difficulty in urination
- Blood in urine
- Urinating in unusual places
- Crying when urinating
- Excessive licking around the urinary area (because of pain)
- Lack of appetite
- Urinating outside of litter box
- Frequent trips to the litter box (increased urination)
- Feed small but frequent meals
- Provide clean, fresh water all day, every day
- Keep the litter box clean
- For a multiple-cat household, provide a sufficient number of litter boxes (at least two)
- Feed your cats with a diet that encourages the formation of urine that is acidic
If treatment is needed, this will depend on the type of FLUTD the cat especially if it’s already serious. But Catheterization is often the kind of treatment done. This is removing of stones by flushing a sterile solution through a tapered tube placed in the urethra. Once the stones are removed, an additional treatment that consists of fluid therapy and antibiotics is crucial to be given to your kitty. Surgical treatment will be recommended depending on the case.
If a cat is unable to urinate, you should bring them to the vet immediately! Call your vet as soon as possible if you suspect your cat has a urinary tract problem.
You can check these 7 ways to get your cat to drink more water to learn more!
2. High-Rise Syndrome
High-rise syndrome refers to the injuries that cats have when they fall from heights, such as buildings, second-floor landing, balcony, or a window. When they miss a jump and landed wrong, they can suffer severe injuries, fractures, shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises, and bleeding. Some cats even get paralyzed because of spinal injuries while for some, death. As a matter of fact, this is considered the most common cause of death of cats in Singapore.
Cases of high-rise syndrome tend to be more prominent during warm weather months when windows are open and outdoor spaces like terraces are used more often. Unscreened windows pose real danger to cats who can fall out of them so often that a lot of vets call this illness out more often. It also happens so often that it has been given its name: High-Rise Syndrome.
What are the causes:
Cats love windows and I’m sure all cat parents already know this! They like to sit up high in windowsills, enjoy some fresh air, and watch the birds and the people out there like it’s their television. If they push on a loose screen or if the window is open too far, they can fall out. They can also be tempted to jump when a bird comes too close or get startled by loud noises like a vacuum or a hairdryer then fall out. Cats also sleeps in high places often and when they go into a phase of deep or REM sleep, they could also fall out because these dreams can cause them to move around or suddenly wake up and lose balance.
- Shattered jaw
- Broken limbs or pelvis
- Fractured teeth or palate
- Punctured lungs
- Spinal fractures
- Ruptured bladder
It can be prevented with right knowledge and planning. Here are some things to look out for:
- Always supervise your cat on a balcony or terrace.
- Make sure window screens are properly installed and secure. If not possible, keep the windows closed. Avoid opening windows without screens.
- Watch them carefully for cats have a way of getting through tight spaces, especially when something grabs their attention.
- Place patio chairs, couches, and tables far away from your terrace or balcony railings so your cat can’t use them to climb up and accidentally fall off.
- Don’t rely on childproof window guards since cats can slip through them.
- Close all windows before playing games like fetch or chase with your cat.
- Spay or neuter your cat so they won’t be tempted to escape through a window or high spots to find a mate.
- Keep your cats indoors.
Keep in mind to go to the veterinarian as soon as your kitty suffers from a fall even if you’re not sure how badly your cat is hurt. While you may be able to notice a broken bone or laceration, you won’t be able to see internal injuries like fractured ribs or vertebrae. Your veterinarian will conduct a full physical exam and may order X-rays, an MRI, or other diagnostic tests to evaluate your cat’s condition. Treatment will depend on the type and severity of the injuries. It can include medication to control pain, hospitalization, and surgery to set broken bones or repair other damage.
Ticks are more of a problem in Singapore cats compared to fleas. This is because the high ambient temperature and humidity in Singapore are very favorable to the breeding and thriving of ticks. Even if your cat is confined indoors, flea and tick preventatives should always be considered. Cat ticks are spider-like, egg-shaped, blood-sucking creepy crawlies. They have eight legs and vary in size from about 1mm to 1cm long. Adult ticks look a bit like small spiders for they belong to the arachnid family like spiders and mites. Ticks are more obvious as they are larger in size and move a lot more slowly. You may see them crawling around in the walls, carpets, or on the floor if you have an infestation.What are the signs of ticks infestation:
- Lumps or bumps especially in your cat’s head, neck, ear, and feet
- Itching or infected skin
- Finding them on or around your cat
- Bites, rashes, hives, or blisters
- Constant scratching
- Hair loss
How to prevent and remove them from your cats:
Cat ticks carry diseases, so it’s important to remove any that is attached to your cat as soon as possible to lessen the risk of diseases.
Be careful not to squeeze the tick’s body or allow its head to get stuck inside your cat. Squeezing a tick’s body can cause it to expel blood back into your cat, increasing the risk of infection. Twisting them off your cat is the best removal method. Pet shops also sell tick-removal devices to make this easier. Do not touch ticks with your bare hands as infections may transmit to you. You can ask your trusted vet for advice.
A year-round parasite preventive program is the best way to protect your pet from external throughout the year. Be sure to consult your vet as soon as you see a tick to know how to properly handle them without making the problem worse. Gather as much knowledge about ticks from your vet as possible!
Environmental control is also important to reduce the presence of both fleas and ticks. This includes:
- regular vacuuming
- washing the bedding in hot water
- cleaning the floors thoroughly once a week
- getting pest control if the infestation is severe
Your cat risks anemia if the problem becomes serious, so be sure to treat your cat's tick problem and prevent future infestations. Talk to your vet about which tick control would be best for your cat.
Here are 7 Tips on How to Prevent Flea and Tick Bites on your Pets to learn more!
4. Cat Flu (Upper Respiratory Tract Disease)
Cat flu, also known as upper respiratory tract disease (URT), is a general term equivalent to human flu. Cat flu is caused by airborne viruses that has to be treated to avoid secondary infections or transmissions that might take place in the nose, eyes, mouth, and lungs.What are the signs:
- Clear to colored nasal discharge
- Inflamed (swollen) eyes
- White-eye discharge
- Mouth/tongue ulcers
- Lack of appetite
- Runny nose
- Gagging, drooling
- Rapid breathing
- Nasal and oral ulcers
- Squinting or rubbing eyes
- Open-mouth breathing
- Keep affected cats away from other cats.
- Wash hands with warm soapy water before coming into contact with your cat.
- Have your cat vaccinated. It is the best protection against respiratory diseases.
- Bring your cat to a vet if you spot symptoms as soon as possible.
There is no long-term solution for cat flu. What you can do is to keep your cat comfortable and treat the symptoms. Keep your cat's nose and eyes free of discharge with a slightly wet cotton. Do call or bring your cat to your trusted vet if you notice the signs above as soon as possible for cat flu can get serious as it affects your cat’s whole body!
5. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FIV is one of the most common viruses in cats and is the only lentivirus causing a disease similar to AIDS in non-primates. FIV is not that serious or lethal to cats and they can even live healthy as FIV carriers. But you should still be careful for it can compromise your cat’s immune system and infect many cells and decreases the function of the immune system. The virus is spread through the saliva of an infected cat, primarily by biting. Outdoor cats, male cats, and older cats are more likely to become infected.
Cats infected with FIV may not show symptoms until years after the initial infection occurred. Although the virus is slow-acting, a cat’s immune system can be severely weakened which makes the cat susceptible to various secondary infections.What are the signs:
- Nasal discharge containing pus
- Inflamed (swollen) eyes
- White-eye discharge
- Mouth/tongue ulcers
- Lack of appetite
How to prevent it:
The most effective prevention would be your cat’s annual checkups and bringing your cats to the vet as soon as you notice something wrong! This condition is diagnosed using a blood test. Your veterinarian may suggest performing this test when adopting a new cat.
But if your cats already have it, infected cats receive supportive medical care and must have a stress-free life, indoor environment to live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages and they will have it for life.
It is highly important to do preventions regularly like your cat’s vaccination and protect them from viral infections. Prevention is always better than cure! Consult with a veterinarian about the vaccination program for your cat, for health-related questions, always consult your veterinarian, as they have examined your pet, know the pet's health history, and can make the best recommendations for your pet. They will advise the recommended vaccines and procedures according to your location and your cat's lifestyle.
Finding out that your precious kitty has an illness can be very scary and confusing so it’s important to keep these illnesses in mind. If you suspect your cat is sick, call and talk to your vet immediately! It’s always better to be safe than to regret anything in the end.
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