Most pet owners recognize emergency circumstances when they absolutely must take their pet to the vet – difficulty breathing, vomiting or consuming toxic substances, for instance. But there are less obvious indications that your pet might have underlying medical issues that need to be dealt with.
Cats in particular are masters at hiding ill health so it becomes even more challenging for pet parents. Throw in their aversion to car travel and it’s too easy to avoid the ‘dreaded’ vet visit and miss an opportunity to tackle important health needs. Don’t forget that preventive care is always the best option. Cats age much faster than humans, so regular check ups with your vet may help weed out potential issues before they become larger, more serious ones. Here are five signs your cat might need to see the vet.
Weight Gain / Loss
It’s estimated that 50% of cats are overweight or obese. While many pet parents take pleasure in overindulging their cat’s appetite, the resulting excess body tissue can put your kitty at risk of a number of serious health issues. These include diabetes, heart, respiratory, and kidney disease. Your vet will be able to advise on feeding schedules and diet-friendly foods to help your feline achieve their optimum weight. Alternatively, if your cat has a sudden weight loss – while maintaining a healthy appetite – this can be indicative of a condition called hyperthyroidism which affects the heart, liver and kidneys.
Though hyperthyroidism is treatable (even curable if caught early enough) it can lead to health complications and potentially death if left undiagnosed.
Nobody knows your cat like you. Even subtle changes in behavior – for more than a couple of days – should be considered warning signs. Is your cat hiding more frequently, eating more/less than usual, avoiding grooming, overly lethargic, or walking in a strange manner? Each of these behavioral changes can indicate that something’s up and that you should schedule an appointment with your vet to investigate further.
Missing the Litter Box
When a cat begins peeing in unusual places (i.e. not in their litter box) many pet parents misinterpret this as disobedience. However this could be a sign they are suffering with feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), a common affliction among cats between the ages of 2 – 6 years. Other clinical signs include painful urination and increased grooming around the genital area. If you suspect your kitty is suffering with FLUTD (often associated with cystitis, an inflammation of the bladder) consult your vet who can advise on treatment options as well as dietary and environmental changes to help resolve the issue.
There are of course several reasons for litter box problems which your vet can help determine and resolve accordingly. Important concepts with respect to missing the litter box include the following: 1) diet matters – if your vet prescribes a special diet for your cat because he is having crystals in his urine, then stick with the diet until your vet says it is ok to stop feeding that diet… but keep in mind your pet may need to be on that special diet for the rest of his life, and 2) the equation for litter boxes in multi-cat households is n+1, so a two cat household should have 3 litter boxes, a three cat household should have 4, and so on.
While it’s true that some cats are more vocal than others, you’ll probably notice when your cat starts meowing more frequently – or indeed, less frequently. Usually it’s an environmental issue – she or he needs extra food, water or (most likely) attention. But, if you’ve satisfied your cat’s every need and they’re still meowing, he or she might be signalling they’re in pain. Your vet can perform a physical exam plus further testing if they suspect something’s amiss.
There are many reasons that might cause a cat to experience hair loss. These include ringworm, thyroid issues, allergies, or parasites. Again, you know your cat’s normal behavior – a little hair loss here and there should be expected, what with all the grooming. But, if hair loss occurs in patches and in excessive quantities, it’s worth taking time to go see your vet to get a professional diagnosis and treatment. Flea allergy dermatitis and environmental allergies are the most common cause of fur loss due to excessive licking, usually on the inner thighs and the inner forelegs from the elbow to the toes.
How Can Activ4Pets Help?
If you’re worried your feline is eating too much, Activ4Pets provides a helpful health tracker that allows you to input and keep track of their weight and food intake as often as you need. For added convenience, you can use the chart tool to graph out the data to help monitor weekly losses and gains.
Need to ask your vet a question but struggling to find the time? Activ4Pets enables you to conduct a virtual vet visit to discuss potential issues and provide peace of mind. An e-Consultation gives you real time audio/video feed so your vet can see and examine your pet without the need for a stressful car ride. Though, occasionally, the advice may well be to attend in person for treatment.
As well as all this, Activ4Pets stores your pet’s complete veterinary history in the cloud, so you always have easy access through the online portal or our free mobile app. You can quickly pull up medications, allergies, surgeries, treatments, cat vaccines and more to help plan your next vet visit accordingly. Membership starts at just $2 per month and covers up to 4 pets. Check out our sign up page for more information.