Help Us Help Kitty
In the hustle and bustle of life it's easy to miss the small things. Be they where you put the keys or a post-work trip to the supermarket--Let's face it, things get forgotten. While we all struggle to organize our lives through a myriad of digital and analog means, one of the biggest things you can to do to help your feline friend not get forgotten is to be aware. As a prototypical predator (and harkening back to their evolutionary roots), your feline friend will not usually show weakness until it is unbearable. This can include injuries, not feeling well due to conditions like diabetes and hyperthyroidism, dental disease, kidney disease, etc. The good thing is that by being just a little vigilant and noting when things are off, you can potentially change the life of your furry loved one. If you find yourself thinking the following thoughts, then it's not a bad idea to see your veterinarian (sooner rather than later) for help:
1. She's eating me out of house and home (or not)!
Having a basic idea of your kitty's eating habits can go a huge way to figuring out if a problem exists. This includes nothing changes in eating frequency (eating more or less often), quantity (eating less or gorging) and type (preference of food). These things are particularly concerning if you otherwise haven't changed anything else food-related in the cat's daily routine. Things like glandular disorders often affect appetite as well as problems like dental disease, etc.
2. That was outside of the box!
Is your cat going more often? Things like increased urination (with or without increased drinking, when occurring together they are called polyuria/polydipsia) can be indicative of any number of problems including urinary issues, diabetes and hyperthyroidism. In addition, the dreaded "going outside the box" phenomenon is a clear indicator that something is amiss with your feline friend. For the latter observation, any number of psychological or physical causes could be the culprit.
3. Slim isn't so slim anymore!
Although we will always weigh your pet at each exam, in between exams it's often not a bad idea to keep tabs on if your kitty is getting heavier or more skinny. While, weighing your pet a few times a year is not a bad idea, being observant of the general build of your kitty is a fantastic habit. As with any number of glandular issues, kitty's weight is as tied to its appetite (which is itself often tied to health) as it is to the type and volume of food you feed him/her. Weight loss, especially when tied to one section of the body, may tip you off to underlying injuries such as spinal problems or arthritis. Noting any changes in muscle mass or general build also can be key indicators of your feline's overall health.
4. The beast has been unleashed (or not)!
Is your kitty sleeping more than normal? Is your kitty aggressive or abnormally energetic? While, sometimes this is just because your feline is getting older or has broken into that coveted stash of catnip, it may also be indicative of a less benign underlying cause.
5. Fluffy has lice.... Wait... No, Fluffy has dandruff...
Noting changes to the general appearance of your kitty can also go a long way towards spotting a problem. Although many changes in appearance (be they weight-based or coat/condition based) may be concurrent with a change in food, if they occur without a known etiology (or identifiable cause), your veterinarian can look at physiological problems that might be at work. Things to look for include a dull or dulling coat, dander and dry skin, leathery or red ears, red gums, excessive grooming (including constantly wet or discolored areas of fur, etc.), yellow eyes (whites, not the colored iris), etc.
A word from the Doctors.
Physical exams are important to help assess your kitty's health but never underestimate how absolutely necessary and invaluable your description of your kitty is to us as doctors. It is important for us to partner with you to determine the best next steps for your cuddly friend. We can't do our jobs best without input from you since you know your friend better than anyone!! Never be afraid to share any changes in your cat's behavior or appearance, no matter how significant or insignificant you might think it is.