5 "Silent" Killers of Cats
When it comes to caring for your cat, I have a few simple recommendations:
- Maintain A safe environment (keep him indoors)
- Feed a high quality food (e.g., a meat-based protein)
- Think about preventative care (e.g., an annual physical examination, laboratory tests, and the appropriate vaccines)
- Provide lots of affection and exercise
By following these basic tips, you can help keep your four-legged, feline friends healthy--potentially for decades! But as cat guardians, you should also be aware of five “silent” killers in cats. By knowing what the most common silent killers are, you can know what clinical signs to look for. With most of these diseases, the sooner the clinical signs are recognized, the sooner we veterinarians can treat.
1. Chronic kidney disease
One of the top silent killers of cats is chronic kidney disease (CKD) (This is sometimes called chronic renal failure or chronic kidney injury). These terms are all semantically the same, and basically mean that 75% of both the kidneys are ineffective and not working. Clinical signs of CRD include:
- Excessive drinking
- Excessive urinating
- Larger clumps in the litter box
- Weight loss
- Bad breath (due to toxins building up in the blood and causing ulcers in the mouth, esophagus, and stomach)
Thankfully, with appropriate management, cats can live with CKD for years (unlike dogs where CKD usually progresses more rapidly). Chronic management may include a low-protein diet, frequent blood work, increasing water intake (e.g., with a water fountain or by feeding a grueled canned food), medications and even fluids under the skin (which many pet guardians do at home, once properly trained).
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Justine has more than 18 years of experience in the veterinary industry and is a board-certified emergency critical care veterinary specialist and toxicologist as well as the CEO and founder of Vetgirl. She is also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.