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Keeping Your Cat Healthy – Tips From A Champaign, IL Veterinarian

February 1 2024

February is an important month for our feline friends. Many of this month’s kitty awareness events are focused on spaying and neutering: it’s Beat the Heat Month, Feline Fix by Five Month, National Prevent a Litter Month, Spay/Neuter Awareness Month. Spaying and neutering is very important. However, it’s only one aspect of keeping your kitty happy and healthy. A local Champaign, IL vet goes over some elements of cat health in this article.

How Can I Check My Cat’s Health At Home?

We have to stress that your veterinarian should be the ultimate authority on this. However, there are ways to monitor Fluffy’s health in between appointments. Your kitty’s appearance, appetite, and behavior can all tell you quite a bit.

Healthy cats usually have clear bright eyes. They may spend a lot of time sleeping, but they should be alert and inquisitive, and perhaps a bit mischievous, when awake. Fluffy should also have soft, clean fur. She should breathe quietly, at least when she isn’t meowing for something. 

It’s also not a bad idea to discreetly check her body condition. Whenever you pet your feline buddy, hold her, or let her snooze on your lap, be on the lookout for things like swelling, bumps, heat, stiffness, bruising, or skin problems. Take note of weight gain or loss as well.

If you notice anything amiss, be sure to contact your Champaign, IL veterinarian right away.

What Is The Most Common Sickness In Cats?

Fluffy may think of herself as invincible, but she is just as vulnerable to illness and injury as any other animal. Kitties can be afflicted by a wide variety of health issues. However, some are more common than others.

These include:

  • Diabetes
  • Cancer
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
  • Dental Issues
  • Respiratory Infections
  • Kidney Disease
  • Arthritis
  • FeLV

Obesity and parasites are also not uncommon, and can lead or contribute to a slew of other issues.

Proper veterinary care will go a long way towards protecting her from illness and injury. Be sure to take your cat to the Champaign, IL animal clinic regularly.

At What Age Do Cats Start Having Health Problems?

Fluffy usually ages slowly and gracefully. That said, you may start noticing changes around age ten or after. These may be mild and gradual at first. Fluffy may start sleeping more, and she may not be as frisky as she once was. Over time, you may notice her gaining weight, and perhaps having trouble jumping and climbing.

It’s worth noting that there is some debate about what age cats should be considered seniors: some say it’s nine, ten, eleven, or 12. The Cornell Feline Health Center puts that number at 12. Most sources do agree that kitties are considered geriatric at 15.

Once your furry pal enters her golden years, your veterinarian may recommend more frequent appointments. You may also need to adjust your pet’s care regimen a bit. Fluffy may also need pet ramps or stairs, and she may need help keeping her fur clean. Some cats will also benefit from special diets. Ask your vet for specific advice.

How Do I Tell If My Cat Isn’t Feeling Well?

This one can be a bit tricky. Cats naturally try to hide signs of illness. There is a reason for this: in the wild, predators are often drawn to animals that show signs of weakness. The danger here is that you may not realize that something is wrong with your pet until she is quite ill.

That said, here are some things to look for:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Litterbox Avoidance
  • Hiding
  • Uncharacteristic Vocalizations (Or Lack Thereof)
  • Unkempt Fur
  • Respiratory Issues
  • Reduced Appetite
  • Increased Thirst
  • Increased Urination
  • Discolored Gums
  • Discharge
  • Sudden Weight Loss Or Gain
  • Grumpiness
  • Uncharacteristic Behavior

Keep in mind that our feline pals are all unique. Watch for anything that seems out of character for your kitty. For instance, a normally-affectionate cat may hide or hiss if they don’t feel well. A kitty that is more aloof, on the other hand, may suddenly start demanding attention. The more attention you pay to Fluffy, the easier it will be to notice small changes that may signal something is amiss. 

Contact your Champaign, IL veterinarians right away if you spot any of these.

How Often Should I Take My Cat To My Champaign, IL  Veterinary Clinic?

This will likely depend on your pet’s age and health. Kittens will need to come in a few times during that first year, as they complete their initial vaccines. Spay/neuter surgery is also important, as is microchipping. A healthy adult indoor cat may only need to come in once a year, but one that is allowed out may need to come in more often. Senior cats also need more frequent visits, as do those with health issues. Ask your vet to recommend an appointment schedule.

How Can I Keep My Cat Healthy?

For the most part, kitties are quite hardy. Providing Fluffy with good food, fresh water, clean litter, and regular veterinary care will cover the basics.

Of course, it’s also important to keep your feline buddy safe from injuries. Keeping your feline pal inside is probably the single most important thing you can do here. Cats that are allowed to go outdoors face many different dangers! Cars and traffic, weather, stray cats, loose dogs, chemicals, parasites, and, unfortunately, some people all pose threats to your furry pal.

We also can’t overstate the importance of petproofing, especially with young frisky felines. Cats are both hunters and prey in the wild, so they are instinctively driven to investigate things. Fluffy can’t help but wonder if there’s a mouse hiding under the couch or if that empty cupboard is a good place to hide from the vacuum cleaner. She’s also prone to practicing her murder skills on anything and everything within paws’ reach. This is cute and entertaining, but it can also be a bit dangerous.

Keep anything that isn’t safe for your pet in secure spots. Small or sharp objects are a common hazard. That includes things like beads, buttons, craft kit pieces, safety pins … the list goes on. Anything ropy or stringy is also a concern. Cats just can’t resist batting at strings. Unfortunately, these objects can cause potentially fatal issues with your pet’s digestive system if swallowed.

Poisoning is one of the most common emergencies in cats. Many items that can be found in the common household are toxic to pets. Plants are one of the big ones. Lilies are at the top of the list there: even drinking a bit of water or nibbling a leaf can cause kitties to go into organ failure. You can learn more about toxic and non-toxic plants online at the ASPCA website here. Plants aren’t the only thing on the list, though. Household cleaners, automotive products, detergents, drain openers, paint, turpentine … the list goes on. Ask your veterinarian for more information.

Can Stress Affect My Cat’s Health?

We’ve learned a lot about the toll that stress takes on the human body in recent years. This is true for pets just as much as it is for people. If Fluffy is scared, she may stop eating, and she may cower in a closet or corner.

Keep that motor going! Pay attention to your feline pal, and be sure to offer lots of toys and attention. 

Do you have questions about caring for your cat? Is your kitty overdue for an appointment? Contact us, your local Champaign, IL pet hospital, anytime!

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