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September 16, 2021 |0 min read

Most Common Cat Health Problems

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

You know your cat better than anyone else, so you know when something feels off. Perhaps they used to come up to you and demand that you play with their favorite toy mouse, but recently they’ve had a lot less energy. Or maybe your feline friend has been using the litter box way more often or shedding so much fur you’re getting concerned about the hair loss.

The worry and uncertainty that come with suspecting your pet might be sick is difficult to tolerate, even if you’re able to schedule a vet appointment right away.

That’s why it’s so helpful to know and understand common cat diseases.

How do you know what your infected cat has? And how do you treat it? In this short article, we’ll dive into five frequent ailments so you’re able to recognize and address problems as soon as they appear.

#1 Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Has Mittens been going to the bathroom more often, only to leave very little behind? Feline lower urinary tract disease, aka FLUTD, is one of the most common cat diseases out there.

This category of illness includes any ailment that affects your kitty’s bladder and causes approximately 3% of all cat-related vet visits. FLUTD most commonly encompasses illnesses such as UTIs or bladder stones but can occasionally be caused by bladder cancer.

Your Cat and UTIs

Cats can get a Urinary Tract Infection the same way humans do—through bacteria that gets into the urethra and causes an unpleasant infection. Noticing your kitty’s symptoms can be vital to alleviating his or her discomfort while a simple fix is still available.

Classic symptoms of a cat UTI include the following:

  • Excessive litter box use with little urine passed
  • A grooming fixation on the genitalia and surrounding regions
  • Urination that causes pain
  • Peeing outside the litter box
  • Blood in the urine

Keep in mind that it can be difficult to tell if your feline friend is in pain (after all, your furry friend can’t talk). 

However, the right pet products can help you detect the signs of a UTI. High pH urine is another sign of a UTI. PrettyLitter can point this out immediately so you can help your furry BFF treatment, which normally consists of veterinarian prescribed antibiotics. 

Bladder Stones and Cats

Though unpleasant blockages can present similarly to UTIs, they have very different causes. Bladder stones happen when naturally occurring minerals such as calcium oxalate or struvite become overly concentrated in your kitty’s bladder. They start to make crystals, which can then turn into bladder stones of various sizes.

Your cat might have a bladder stone if he or she:

  • Has a difficult time urinating
  • Misses the litter box
  • Shows signs of pain while using the bathroom
  • Has bloody urine

Since treating a bladder stone typically involves a special diet to dissolve the stone (which can be a long process) or a procedure to break up or remove the stone, it’s better to detect the issue early and prevent further buildup. Once again, the right kind of litter can help you notice these minerals in your cat’s pee as soon as they’re present.

#2 Dental Disease

Dental disease is so widespread that by age three, over 50% of cats had one of the many types. Fortunately, this type of cat disease can be easily treated and prevented in the future through better dental hygiene. 

The dental issues vets most commonly see in cats are:

  • Gingivitis – If your kitty has gingivitis, the telltale signs will be red, inflamed gums. Plaque causes this unpleasant infection by getting below the gum line, where cats’  immune systems identify it as a threat and attack. But this only happens when significant plaque is present. If removed regularly, plaque becomes a non-issue.
  • Periodontal Disease – This is a more advanced form of gingivitis that you can’t just treat with a thorough tooth cleaning and antibiotics. If gingivitis gets to this stage, it will cause tissue weakness in your kitty’s mouth, eventually leading to tooth loss.

Though periodontal disease may sound scary, there’s no need for it to get that far. All that’s needed to prevent dental disease is a good tooth brushing. And if your cat doesn’t like that, you can try soaking Q-tips in a flavor your cat likes and using them to get rid of plaque.

#3 Ringworm

Ringworm is another one of the biggest health issues in cats. The name is highly misleading—it’s actually a fungus, not a worm, and a highly contagious one at that. If your cat has suddenly developed bald spots that have a red ring in the middle or seems to have abraded patches around her head, ears, and front legs, they probably have ringworm. 

To treat it:

  • Go to your vet for a special antifungal shampoo
  • Administer any other prescribed medication as well
  • Expect treatment to take time; ringworm is persistent
  • Disinfect your home, so Mittens doesn’t re-catch it

And be careful! If your cat has ringworm—you can catch it from them as well.

#4 Kidney Diseases

This one is especially prevalent among older cats. 

Keep a sharp eye on your older cat because the outcome of kidney disease can improve a lot if you have a tool to monitor your cat’s health and catch it early.

The kidneys are central to vital processes such as cleaning the blood and processing waste. If your kitty seems lethargic, starts drinking more water than normal, or loses her appetite, she may be showing signs of kidney problems. Other typical symptoms of kidney issues include:

  • Abnormally frequent urination
  • Vomiting
  • Urine that is bloody or cloudy
  • Higher blood pressure

For cats, kidney disease comes in two main types: acute renal failure and chronic kidney disease.

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Acute Renal Failure

This type of kidney disease can unfold very rapidly, typically in days or weeks. It usually occurs when a cat eats something toxic that causes kidney failure, suffers an injury to the surrounding area, or has a severe kidney infection or blockage. This kind of acute kidney issue is serious, but swift treatment can help fix it, so take your cat to the vet immediately if you notice any signs that could indicate kidney issues.

Chronic Kidney Disease

Chronic kidney disease—also known as CKDhas a slower onset but is much more persistent. It can arise slowly from other underlying health problems such as:

  • Types of feline cancers
  • Infections
  • Autoimmune issues
  • Kidney stones
  • High blood pressure

While many different kidney diseases can affect cats CKD has the highest prevalence. It can’t be reversed like acute renal failure, but it can be treated and managed.

CKD Treatment

One common way to tackle CKD is to change your cat’s diet. Since felines can’t filter out certain waste products, a low protein and sodium diet can help take the strain off of her kidneys by giving them less work to do. Oral medications to lower blood pressure and treat anemia caused by kidney shutdown help as well.

Also, catch it early! Noticing symptoms of CKD and getting your cat into treatment will improve the outcome. You can check your cat’s water bowl to see if he or she is drinking excessively and monitor the litter box for abnormally large amounts of urine. And, once again, the right litter provides a visual indication that something is wrong with your cat’s urine so you know to speak with your veterinarian right away.

#5  Diabetes

Unfortunately, feline diabetes is on the rise. However, this disease is not fatal and will not take away from the time you can spend with your furry friend as long as you treat it.

Like humans, cats can be either type I or type II diabetic, though most cats are type I when diagnosed. You may begin to suspect your cat is diabetic if they:

  • Eat a lot but still loses weight anyway
  • Seriously increases the amount of water they drinks and how much they urinate

Though the full cause of feline diabetes is unknown, the treatment isn’t. Insulin injections are a standard treatment for diabetic cats the same way they are for humans. This treatment requires a trip to the vet for an initial consultation prior to receiving injections. You may also need to monitor your kitty’s diet and make sure to cut back on treats that have too much glucose.

The Best Treatment is Prevention—Let PrettyLitter Help

While being a pet parent can feel a lot like being an actual parent, there are a few key differences. For one, your cat can’t actually tell you what’s wrong if they feel sick. It’s up to you to figure out what your cat’s various symptoms mean—something easier said than done.

But with PrettyLitter, detecting some of these common diseases has never been easier. Our litter is specifically designed to react to your cat's urine and alert you with a visible color change if it detects any problems, eliminating the need to guess what’s wrong. 

PrettyLitter is also made out of silica gel crystals that don’t clump and are very absorbent, so you need less to get the job done. This means more saving and less scooping! How much more saving, you might ask? About $4 a month when compared to the leading competitors.

So cut back on the stress and feel more secure in the time you spend with your cat by getting started with PrettyLitter today. Your cat will thank you!


Sources: 

UC Davis. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease. https://healthtopics.vetmed.ucdavis.edu/health-topics/feline-lower-urinary-tract-disease

Cornell University. Bladder and Kidney Stones. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/bladder-and-kidney-stones

VCA. Dental Disease in Cats https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/dental-disease-in-cats

Cornell University. Chronic Kidney Disease. https://www.vet.cornell.edu/departments-centers-and-institutes/cornell-feline-health-center/health-information/feline-health-topics/chronic-kidney-disease

VCA. Plaque and Tartar Prevention in Cats https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/plaque-and-tartar-prevention-in-cats

ASPCA. Common Cat Diseases. https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-diseases

Written by

Sharilyn Vera

Sharilyn is a proud cat owner, long time storyteller and researcher. Her work spans beloved podcasts, television shows, media outlets, and independent documentaries. She likes to strike a balance between education and comedy, which you can hopefully tell when you read her articles!

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