Many people feel cats are low-maintenance pets and are perfect for owners that have a busy lifestyle and do not have time to care for a dog. Many cat owners mistakenly believe cats are great at fending for themselves, but in reality it is just that cats are very good at hiding signs of illness. Because of a cat's innate ability to hide illness and even severe pain, oftentimes, owners do not realize just "how" sick their cat is.
Usually what happens is an owner brings the cat to the veterinarian because they notice an abscess, a limp or a chronic cough. During the veterinarian exam, the vet finds other life-threatening issues that the cat's owner had not noticed. Below are five of the most common cat health problems most cat owners do not worry about as much as they should.
- Obesity: Like with humans, obesity seems to go unnoticed. Oftentimes, a veterinarian may feel reluctant to discuss a cat's obesity with an overweight owner so as to not to cause hurt feelings. Just like in humans, being overweight is a killer as it can lead to other health issues.
- Hyperthyroidism: Some owners mistakenly think that it is wonderful how much energy their senior cat has. Actually this is not always a good thing, if Hyperthyroidism is the root cause of all this energy. Increased energy, coupled with extreme weight loss, is often due to Hyperthyroidism (the over-production of the thyroid hormone by the thyroid gland). Hyperthyroidism is easily treated and managed and ignoring the symptoms can be tragic for your cat.
- Urinary Tract Disease: Improper litter box habits is one of the most common reasons cats are given up for adoption. Many owners do not realize that litter box problems may stem from a health related issue, such as a urinary tract infection or stones, rather than bad behavior. If your cat is having a litter box issue it may not be "for no reason", "out of spite", or any other behavioral issue. If your cat is having litter box issues it is time to talk to your veterinarian to determine if there is an underlying health issue and treat it. Do not ignore the issue or just learn to "live with it" – find out what is wrong and address it; both of you will be happier.
- Dental Disease: Because cats are so good at hiding pain, many owners do not realize that their cat may have rotted teeth and/or infected gums. We all know how painful a broken or cracked tooth is, imagine how a cat feels with dental disease! To end your cat's suffering take your cat to the veterinarian and have a comprehensive dental examination. Work out a treatment plan with your veterinarian which may include extractions.
- Joint Pain: Arthritis may be incurable and a factor of old age, but pain from those aching joints can be treated. The pain from arthritis is not something any cat should have to live with.
It is very easy to overlook ongoing problems with your cat's health which sometimes start slowly and get worse over time. So, it is imperative that you take a step back and be brutally honest about what you see in your cat. Are you ignoring chronic health issues? If your cat has not seen the veterinarian in a while, it is time to schedule a comprehensive exam. At a minimum, a cat should have a yearly health check up with the veterinarian. Recognize the problem in your cat and work with your veterinarian as most of the above issues can be stopped, treated or even reversed.