What is a healthy cat? Knowing the difference between a healthy cat, one that is "off its feed" or one that is really ill can sometimes be the difference between life and death for a cat.
A healthy cat is bright-eyed, alert and active, wants to play and annoy you, enjoys its food and purrs up a storm. The coat of a healthy cat will be soft and shiny, with little shedding, except in the springtime. The body of a healthy cat will be fairly trim, no sores or rashes, teeth and gums in good condition, no fleas or other parasites, breath should be odor free (except after eating fish) and it should not be coughing, sneezing or have a runny nose.
The inner workings of a healthy cat should follow a normal pattern of regular bowel movements and urination.
A cat "off its feed" will generally exhibit all the healthy cat characteristics except it will not want to eat for a day. I have 3 cats and each one has gone through a day, where food is of little interest (maybe they found a mouse) and they were acting perfectly fine other wise. However, later in the evening or the following day their appetites were back and then some.
A cat that is ill may have many symptoms or just one or two. Some things to look for are lack of appetite that lasts for more than a day. Has your cat's behavior changed? Sudden inactivity may be a sign you cat is not feeling well. Constipation or diarrhea (blood in the stool) that lasts a day or two is also a sign that all is not well internally. Should you see blood in the cat's stool call your vet at once?
The inability to urinate could be a sign of blockage (cats do get kidney stones) or other bladder disorders again if you see any of these signs, including blood in the urine, call your vet as soon as possible. If your cat suddenly starts urinating outside the litter box, it may have a bladder problem. Some cats think the litter box is causing the pain.
Vomiting can be a sign of fur balls a common cat problem, however if your cat vomits more than once a week, call your vet.
A sudden increase in drinking water or an increase in your cat's appetite is also signal that something is amiss. Should your cat show any of these signs call your vet at once as it maybe a sign of something very serious.
A healthy cat will have eyes that are shiny and clear. Cats have what is known as a "third eye." It should not be seen. If you see a covering coming over the eye it is usually a sign that there is a health problem or the cat is suffering from some stress.
A healthy cat should have a soft velvety nose that is moist, but not runny. If your cat's mouth is not pink and clean looking and its teeth are getting a build up of tartar, have your vet examine your cat as soon as possible.
There will be times when you can treat an ailing cat at home, but the best advice I can give, is call your vet and get his/her advice first and then follow through with home treatment.
I tried to treat my cat, Smokey, when he has a small lesion on his leg with a "petroleum based ointment" not realizing that while he was licking it off, he was ingesting the product and as a result got very sick. A quick trip to an "emergency clinic" (night visit) and many dollars later I learned "petroleum based products" and cats tummies, do not get along very well.
So call your vet when you have the slightest doubt about the correct procedure to follow and even if you do know, it is a good idea to verify it with the vet.
One of the most important things you can do for your kitten is to make certain that it receives its kitten shots. These shots are known as the "3 in 1" vaccinations and are given to a kitten at approximately 4, 8,and 12 weeks along with a rabies shot. The purpose is to protect your kitten from some very serious viruses that can be deadly. My cats get yearly booster shots along with their rabies shot. It is my understanding that some vets suggest the booster shots every two years with some states allowing cats to get a 3-year rabies shot. Talk to your vet and follow their advice. The important thing here is that your cats has these shots.
Bacteria, viruses and bacteria-like organisms cause the majority of cat diseases. Your cat can pick up these things simply by inhaling an organism coming through the wind, coming in contact with an infected cat, eating infected food or water or a bite. Realizing this, keeping a cat inside sounds like the best advice I can give. However, my cats, because of the size of our property and the fact our guys stay within the confines of our fence, they are indoor/outdoor cats.
While I have given you an idea of what a healthy cat should be, never hesitate to call or see your vet, should you have the slightest worry regarding your cat's health.
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