Signs of a Healthy Cat
As you get to know your cat or kitten, you will be able to tell if they are feeling unwell. If you think your pet is ill and you are unsure of the cause, you should take them to the vet.
However, many minor aliments in cats and dogs can be treated by their owners with the help of remedies from Pets at Home.
Appetite and Condition
A healthy cat should always have a good appetite. Loss of appetite may be the first sign of a major illness, however, from time to time well-fed cats may refuse to eat. There can be many reasons, such as a change of ownership, or a change of location.
Female cats may refuse to eat just prior to kittening, or just after. However, it could simply be that your cat is being fed elsewhere. Regularly weighing your cat is a good way to monitor if your cat is under or over eating.
If none of these reasons apply, and the cat does not eat at all for more than 24 hours, or its appetite declines over a period of 2-3 days, visit your local vet.
From time to time cats will eat certain types of grass. It is not clear why cats eat grass but there are a couple of possible reasons. Firstly, it acts as a good source of roughage, and secondly it induces vomiting if the cats stomach is overfull, or to remove a blockage.
Grass does not seem to harm cats as long as it has not been sprayed with toxic chemicals. However, if grass eating is accompanied by prolonged and continuous vomiting visit your local vet.
It is useful to note how much your cat normally drinks, therefore it is easier to spot changes. There are common reasons for increased drinking such as hot weather, eating salty foods, or a cat that has just had kittens. Increased drinking not related to any of these circumstances needs to be checked out by your local vet.
Kittens show considerable abdominal distension after eating and this is quite normal. However, if a kitten is thin at the shoulders and hindquarters, with a poor coat, in addition to the abdominal distension, it could be suffering from a worm infestation. Other causes of a pot-bellied appearance could include pregnancy, fluid accumulation or infectious peritonitis.
Bad breath is often caused by a build up of tartar on your cat’s teeth and is particularly common in older cats. Cats should have their teeth brushed once a week for the first 3 years of their life, gradually increasing to 3 times a week as they get older.
Pets at Home sell many products to help prevent bad breath in your pet, including special cat toothbrushes, which are specifically designed for the cat’s mouth. Finger brushes or dental chews may be a more suitable alternative if your cat is nervous or difficult.
Cats ears should always be clean and have no evidence of smell or accumulation of wax. Abnormal discharge, smell, soreness or irritation may be an indication of infection.
If your pet constantly shakes his head or scratches his ears he may have an ear infection, mites or a grass seed problem in his ear and you should take him to the vets for diagnosis. Ear mite infections commonly occur in puppies and kittens and will cause a build-up of back wax in their ears. If you look carefully, you may be able to see the tiny mites. Mites can be treated with ear mite drops.
Cats eyes should be bright and clear. There should be no evidence of abnormal discharge or soreness surrounding the eyes. Some breeds such as Persians, naturally have a clear discharge secreting from their eyes. In other cats any cases of an unusual persistent clear discharge should be examined by a vet. Cloudy discharges may indicate an infection, therefore it is important to keep your cat isolated indoors to prevent cross-infection. In any cases of runny eyes, where pain is also present, the cat should be examined by your vet, whatever the appearance of the discharge.
Coat and Skin
A healthy cat should have a nice shiny coat with no signs of bare patches or skin blemishes. It is a good idea to groom your cat regularly, not only does this remove any shedding hair, you can check your cat over thoroughly and observe any potential problems.
Cats will normally scratch because they itch, however, continuous scratching needs to be stopped. Two of the main causes are ear mites or fleas. These can be easily found and treated; however, buying a treatment from your vet is generally more effective.
The cat’s nose should be free of discharge and should be damp to touch. Most healthy cats have a wet nose, though a dry nose is not necessarily a sign that your cat is unwell. If the cat’s nose remains dry, and is accompanied by other signs of ill health, get it checked out by your vet.
MouthWhen looking inside the mouth there should be no signs of soreness, teeth should be clean and gums should be pale pink.
Cat drool as a normal response to the anticipation of food or when frightened. However, this can also be due to a sore mouth caused by an ulcer or a foreign body.
Hypersalivation can be a sign of poisoning or nausea, for example in cases of travel sickness. If the cat is showing unexplained hypersalivation, particularly if is also unwell, you should get this checked by your vet.
The normal motion for a cat should be firm, however, like all other creatures consistency and quantity may vary from time to time. Colour and consistency vary with the type of food eaten, occasionally slight streaks of blood found on the outside of the stool are likely to have come from a small broken blood vessel around the anus, and are unimportant provided that the cat is otherwise well. If blood is seen regularly, or there is a large amount present, this needs to be checked by your vet.
Over 30% of domestic cats can be prone to Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD), this disease can be caused by a variety of things. Cats will show different signs of FLUTD as a number of conditions can fall into this disease, ranging from blood in the urine, straining to urine and when they do only passing small amounts. This can be painful and very uncomfortable for your cat. If problems persist you should seek veterinary advice immediately.
A cat’s body temperature should be between 38-39.2 oC. If you have any concerns that your cat is unwell taking its temperature is a good way to check. Temperature abnormalities should be viewed in the same light as humans and monitored.
Cats are fastidious self-groomers, regularly licking their fur. Generally more common in long haired cats, but can occur in short haired breeds, Hairballs can be quite dangerous if they are not treated. The hair that they swallow can cause blockages in their stomachs or intestines, resulting in vomiting or constipation. The occasional dose of hairball remedy of other laxative will help reduce the amount of hair there is to be swallowed.