Cat Health threats fall into two major categories. Bodily harm from fighting, accidents, or cruel humans is one category. Common illnesses, parasites, and known system weaknesses is the other.
An indoor cat has a huge advantage against the bodily harm threats. A cat that lives outdoors (or ventures out often) is subject to many physical threats. It does depend on the environment, busy suburban areas and rural areas are probably the worst. Quiet neighborhoods, with little traffic and few predators have much less risk.
The same factors have a bearing on the second category too. If a cat is not exposed to other animals or parasites, and receives proper feeding and care the risk for illness and disease is greatly reduced. There still are some natural causes, like kidney problems, that are unavoidable.
Cats are tough little critters. The common tale of a cat having 9 lives is a result of the ability of a cat to survive under the most adverse conditions. A cat’s natural agility, suspicion of everything, and quick reflexes offer a huge advantage against many physical threats. Cats seem to possess a high survival instinct that serves them well too.
Almost any cat owner can tell a story or two of a harrowing escape by their pet from almost certain disaster. And if you’ve ever tried to rescue a feral Tom Cat that didn’t want to be rescued, you are certainly aware of their ability to defend against or escape capture.
I know from experience that some cats (especially rescued cats) want to go outside. And they will make your life miserable if you don’t concede. One solution I’ve found is to make an outdoor shelter of some kind (like a portable dog kennel – but make sure it has a top of some type) or enclosed area. That way the cat gets to go outside but you’ve protected them from most threats. I’ve even seen people put a cat on a leash but none of my cats would ever allow that to happen.
The number one cat health threat to an indoor cat is getting over weight. The more excess weight, the greater the risk for all types of health issues (just like in people). Controlling the amount and type of food is important to your cat’s health. Some dry food (helps keep their teeth clean too), some high protein soft food, and a few table scraps are all OK. It’s when you give them unlimited amounts of all three that the problems start.
Playing with your cat can be important when it comes to weight issues. Don’t let your cat become a couch potato, try to keep them active. A great simple toy such as a stick with a feature tied to a string at the end can provide lots of exercise. Anything that rolls around is a good toy too since most cats will chase it around.
Vaccinations are important and yearly checkups at the Vet can alert you to problems before they become life threatening. Watching your cat for unusual behavior (like not eating or drinking as normal) is important too. Catching any health problems before they become critical can save you lots of frustration and money at the Vet.
Urinary and Kidney infections are common in cats. The most common cause appears to be absorbing too much ash elements from prepared cat food, especially the wet variety. Always check the label on any cat food to check for ash content. I don’t know what levels are acceptable, so I avoid any brands with ash.
Another common cause of urinary and kidney problems are minerals that build up and block the urethra tube. I had a cat that constantly had blockage problems until we changed his food and went to filtered water. A simple filter on your faucet can help both you and you’re cats from too many minerals in your water. Speaking of water, you should always allow access to clean water, hydration is important to keeping your cat healthy.
It’s also recommended that you feed multiple small meals or free feed (cat has 24 hour access to food) than feed one big meal a day. This is true of most animals and people. Small meals are easier to digest and also increase the body’s caloric burn rate, which can help with the weight problems too.
Hookworms, roundworms, and tapeworms are common parasites that present severe health threats to cats. Hookworms are the worst since they live in the intestines and suck blood from the host. Hookworms can cause death from creating severe anemia in very short periods of time. Roundworms will steal nutrients and make the host more susceptible to many illnesses. Tapeworms will consume nutrients and cause rapid weight loss.
Parasites can be visible in fecal matter or be found with blood tests by your Vet. That’s why it’s good to try and makes sure your cat gets an annual checkup. Or if you notice your cat eating more but not gaining any weight, or becoming listless, you should immediately have your Vet do some fecal and blood tests.
If you’d like to learn more about common cat health issues, you can find more information at our website listed below. We haven’t got all the answers but we are starting to get some good input about many cat health problems.