If you haven't had the pleasure of owning a pet cat before, you may not know that you can run into some cat health problems. Some can be prevented easily, while others begin genetically.
One of the most common problems with your cat's health and well being is the terrible hairball. Cats keep themselves clean by cleaning their fur with their tongues. Loose hair is removed and swallowed. Sometimes, instead of passing through the cat's digestive tract, the hair forms into a ball in the cat's stomach. Cats with hairballs develop a hacking cough, gradually expelling the hairball. Hairball prevention is easy: groom your cat daily to help remove the loose hair. You can also get cat food that helps prevent hairballs. If you look at your local stores, you may also find cat treats that can help with this problem.
Urinary tract infections are another feline health problem. This infection happens more frequently in un-neutered male cats, though it is seen occasionally in females as well. If your cat has suddenly developed an aversion to his litter box, it could be due to a urinary tract infection. Another clue is that your cat's urine will smell unusually strong if he has an infection. A trip to the veterinarian is the cure. He will also recommend cat foods that may help prevent the infection from coming back.
Cats are prone to several viruses as well that can be very dangerous to their health and well being: Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Leukemia Virus (FLV) are the most common.
FIP is a cousin to the Corona virus, and is a very serious condition as there is no known treatment. The problem lies in the test. Cats that test positive for FIP may not have it, since Corona virus gives the same result on the test. A vaccine for FIP does exist, but many veterinarians do not believe it is very effective. Fortunately, this disease is not as simple to contract as some of the others.
FIV, also known as cat AIDS, isn't necessarily fatal. Some pet owners are afraid that they can catch HIV from an FIV-positive cat, but it is not possible.
FLV is easily preventable through vaccination if the cat has not been exposed to the virus yet. While FLV is not always immediately fatal, once this disease has been contracted, the cat usually does not live for long. If you have a pet with FLV, do not bring other cats into your household. It is contagious.
Many cats also become a host for worms. Hookworms, tapeworms and roundworms are the most common parasites that infect pet cats. Sometimes, they can also get heart worms. Symptoms that may indicate worms is weight loss, with the inability to gain it back; flea infestation; or white specks in the stool that looks like rice. If you notice any of these signs, take your cat to the vet for a test. Worms are easily gotten rid of with a few doses of worm medication. If left untreated, the cat can waste away and die.
If your cat likes to play outdoors, examine him frequently for ticks. If you find one on your cat and he has been moving more slowly than usual or acting lethargic or as if he is in pain, he may need to be tested for Lyme Disease. Your veterinarian can take care of this test and the treatment. Lyme Disease is given to both people and animals by ticks.
Your cat's health and well being is very important if you want to have many happy years with him or her. Caring for your cat properly is easy with a few regular trips to the vet.
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