Helping Us Help Your Cat
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 will usually not 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 news is that by being just a little vigilant and noting when things are even subtly 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 trust cat 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 noting changes in eating frequency (eating more or less often), quantity (eating less or gorging) and type (preference of food including flavors, textures, types). 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, renal disease (kidneys) can actually affect how things tastes and problems like dental disease can affect texture preferences, etc.
2. That was outside of the box (not in a good way)!
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 cat's urinary tract and/or psyche. Noting simple changes in the size or number of urine clumps (I know you don't have anything else better to do with your time) can tell us a lot about your cat's well being, diet, etc.
3. "Slim" isn't so slim anymore!
Although we will always weigh your pet at each annual 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 and/or kidney disease, a cat'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 limited 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. Without an explanation of diet change (more food, less food, canned food or dried food), usually there is an underlying health cause at work.
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 like diabetes, thyroid disease, kidney disease, etc.
5. Fluffy has lice.... Wait... No, Fluffy has dandruff...
Noting changes to the general coat and condition/appearance of your kitty can also go a long way towards spotting a problem. Although many changes in appearance 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.
Words from the Doctor:
"Annual physical exams (also known as wellness exams) are important to help assess your cat's overall health but one should never underestimate how necessary and invaluable your description of your kitty is to us as pet doctors. It is extremely important for us to partner with you to determine the next best steps for your cuddly friend. We can't do our jobs fully without that input from you since you know your feline friend better than anyone else! Never be afraid to share any changes in your cat's behavior or appearance, no matter how significant or insignificant you might think they are. Behind most bloodwork, urinalyses and diagnostic testing are minor concerns that were often noticed before the problem became serious."
Words from the Practice Manager:
"Cats are notorious for living long and relatively maintenance-free lives. Even the best of cat clinics and veterinary hospitals have long lists of clients that come in for 3 year vaccines or just emergencies. Even in our cat hospital (with our incredibly caring and awesome owners), too many times we see cats with problems that could have been intercepted early and in some cases cured prior to becoming permanent. Vigilance, observation, weight checks, etc. are all free and many of these things can be done at home with just a few minutes a month. Noticing these initial changes and bringing them to the attention of your trusted family veterinarian during your cat's annual exam can save you thousands of dollars in potential complications. Especially as your cat grows old, these (often) semi-annual exams can literally pay for themselves in the long-run. With minimal maintenance, healthy cats routinely live full lives upwards of 20 years."
-If you have noticed changes in the behavior or appearance of your cat, don't hesitate to call our cat veterinarians in Issaquah, WA at (425) 392-8770. We are the only family-owned and operated veterinary hospital in East Seattle and would love to meet you and your furry loved one!