Cat Health Problems

Abdominal Distention

Causes of abdominal distention are tumors, fluid accumulation, fatness and pregnancy.


Abscess is an accumulation of pus usually under the attack of other cats. They are usually the result of a cat bite some time four days earlier. The cat becomes listless and has lesser appetite while the abscess is building up. The locations are around the head, on the back and the base of the tail. If the abscess has burst, leaving irrigate it two or three times a day with 50 per cent peroxide and 50 per cent water for three to four days. Keep the wound hole open, using a cotton bud, until it heals from the inside out. After three days irrigate with clean water three times daily. If the abscess has not burst, the cat should be taken to the vet so that the abscess can be lanced. If the cat does not regain its appetite within twenty-four hours, visit the vet for antibiotic shots.


Cats can be allergic to certain foods, plants and other substances. An allergy may reveal itself in several ways: it can be accompanied by dermatitis, swelling of the local area, itchiness or sores. Tracing the cause of the allergy is frequently very difficult and is a job for your veterinary surgeon. Cats do not suffer from acute allergic reactions as do dogs. Cats, unlike dogs, very commonly cause an allergic reaction in humans.


Anaemia is detected by pale mucous membranes of the mouth or the eyes. It can be caused by feline infectious anaemia (a blood parasite), feline infectious peritonitis (a virus), internal parasites (such as coccidiosis, roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms), dosing with antibiotics, chronic liver disease, poor nutrition and as an associated problem with many debilitating diseases. The exact cause of the anaemia should be determined by a veterinarian and appropriate treatment commenced. Supplementation of the diet with liver and B-complex vitamin drops helps.

Appetite, Decreased

Decreased appetite has a number of causes. The cat may walk up to the food and attempt to eat, but cease, indicating that a condition of the mouth is causing the problem, such as ulcers, sore gums, or a cracked or decayed tooth. A fussy eater may be refusing a change of diet. If the cat is apparently well but misses one or two meals, do not worry particularly. The cat may be eating at a neighbor’s place, it may be full of lizards, birds or other small life, or you may be overfeeding it. If the decreased appetite is accompanied by lethargy, the cat may have a fever and be incubating one of the infectious diseases or an abscess. If its temperature is normal but the animal is lethargic, then constipation, ticks or feline infectious anaemia should be considered. It can be seen from the range of illnesses mentioned—and these are only some—that a decreased appetite is only a symptom indicating the cat is unwell.

Appetite, increased

Increased appetite can be caused by an unbalanced diet, malabsorption syndrome, chronic pancreatitis, sugar diabetes, pregnancy, lactation, an extreme worm burden, nervous diarrhea, anxiety, chronic bleeding, a cold environment, kidney disease or hormonal problems.

Artificial Respiration

When artificial respiration is necessary, place the cat on its side in the fresh air with the four legs stretched out. With a handkerchief, pull out the animal’s tongue and then with your hands on its rib-cage press down gently, release and wait. Repeat this sequence rhythmically at about fifteen beats per minute. When the cat revives, treat for shock and take it to a vet.

Bacterial Skin Infections

Bacterial skin infections at leprosy affects mainly the head and lips, but the contraction may be found anywhere on the body. It occurs as a painless, usually multiple, discrete ulcerated lumps varying from 1 to 3.5 centimeters in diameter and extending from the surface of the skin to the subcutaneous layer. Surgical excision is best. M. Lepraemurium (cat leprosy) indicated by an early lesion on the cat’s neck. Feline acne occurs on the chin and margins of the lips. There is hair loss, and pustules and small cysts are present. In severe cases there is swelling of the entire chin and pus on the surface. The cause is the cat’s failure to clean the chin, particularly a cat with excessively greasy skin. Dirt and surface fats accumulate, leading to secondary bacterial skin infections. Clean the area daily with mild soap and water or with alcohol. If there is an infection, rub in an antibiotic cream.
Paronychia is a condition where the ends of the toes are tender and inflamed, and the paws appear malformed. The cat has difficulty extending the claws because of swelling, A severe case of feline acne on the cat’s chin. Inflammation of the skin-nail margin indicates paronychia; eventually the whole toe will be tender and inflamed. and a sticky, pussy material is visible in the claw fold. The condition is usually chronic. The cause is secondary bacterial invasion following damage to the claw fold. Extend the claws and remove the pussy material with 50 per cent water/50 per cent hydrogen peroxide solution and a cotton bud. Then apply 2 per cent gentian violet solution well into the skin nail fold. Antibiotics are also very effective. In chronic cases the nail may have to be removed under general anesthetic to provide good drainage. The infected nail is usually loose and comes away easily. In most cases it grows back after the infection has cleared up.
Pyogenic dermatitis occurs at the base of the tail, on the head and the ears, on skin over bony prominences and between the toes. In superficial cases, this condition appears as small, crusty sores. Under the crust is an inflamed sticky base. Deep cases appear as single or multiple raised acute and inflamed red or reddish-blue pustules, varying in size from 1 to 5 centimeters. They may have two or more openings, discharging a thick yellow pus. The cause is contaminated wounds resulting from fighting and other types of trauma. The sharp canine teeth of the cat are responsible for most sores, particularly at the tail. Clip the hair around the sore. Some wounds may need to be lanced. The cat should be put on antibiotics. Irrigate the wounds three times daily with 50 per cent hydrogen peroxide and water for four days, then with dear water for three days.

Behavioral Problems

Cats do not seem to develop as many neuroses from urban life as dogs do, possibly because they can escape over the back fence and extend their territory. Behavioral abnormalities are confined to ‘spraying’ in the male cat and to aggressiveness. These traits are almost eliminated if the cat is desexed. When a torn starts spraying in the house he usually has a good reason (for a cat); maybe a new cat in the neighborhood has become dominant over him, or there is a new pet or a new baby in the household. Your cat is trying to re-establish his territory by marking it with urine. Control over spraying and aggressiveness can be helped by the administration of progesterone or by desexing. Discuss this with your veterinary surgeon.


The wounds on a cat are usually from another cat. Tears and rips usually indicate involvement of a possum or a dog. If the wound is gaping and has rough the skin, it is best to seek veterinary attention for therapy and stitches. Open wounds should be treated three times daily with a 50 per cent peroxide and a solution for four days. After this period, irrigation and lean water is satisfactory. Keep the wound open with buds so that it heals from the inside out. To prevent cat fighting, feed it in the evening and lock it indoors morning. This will reduce the incidence of fighting because most aggressiveness occurs at night. If the wound is infected, and your cat is off its food, veterinary attention should be sought for the administration of antibiotic.


severe bleeding occurs on an extremity, a tourniquet can be applied between the laceration and the trunk of the body. The tourniquet must be released for several seconds to three or four minutes. If bleeding occurs f on the body, apply a pressure bandage. Take the cat nearest veterinary surgeon in either case. If it is hard to bandage the area, simply use a clean handkerchief and apply pressure over the bleeding point.


There are the two main branches in the trachea windpipe. They extend into each lung where they break further to form the lung tissue. Bronchitis is simply an inflammation of the mucous lining of these tubes. It can be caused by allergies, bacteria, dust, parasites. The usual symptoms are coughing and distressed breathing. There may also be a temperature rise. Treatment depends on diagnosing the cause. A vet usually prescribe antibiotics and antihistamines to control the problem
Cats can be severely burned by lightning (if up a tree during a storm), electric shock, chemicals, open flames or hot ashes. Watch open fire-places—cats will often crawl in there for the warmth and get burned by hidden embers. Many cats are scalded by hot liquids in busy kitchens. If the cat has first-degree bums, where the skin is red or blistered or the hair is singed in a localized area immerse the cat immediately in cold water, then trim away the hair and apply a thick grease such as petroleum jelly, butter, lard or commercial burn ointment. Do not apply antiseptic. Wet tea leaves (which contain tannic acid) will help reduce pain and loss of fluid; however, they should not be used on large burns or scalds, as too much tannic acid is toxic to cell tissue. In cases of more severe burns, where the hair is burnt off and the skin charred or black, it is imperative to get the animal to a vet.
Cats and Birds

It is natural for a cat to be a hunter, even though it may have access to plenty of food. In the peripheral areas of cities, where there are reserves and national parks, domestic cats frequently venture for a day’s hunting. Unfortunately there are practical limitations in trying to stamp out this kind of activity. Cats have also fallen into disfavor with the increasing number of city and suburban bird lovers who maintain feeding trays. Bells on a cat’s collar may work sometimes, although it is quite possible for cats equipped with this alarm system to stalk so quietly that the bells don’t ring until the bird is well and truly caught. If you intend feeding birds, try to place a cat guard (or other animal guard) around the feeding area. But even then tragedies will occur—the bird lands on the ground to pick up a fallen seed and the cat will spring out from a hiding place. A recent survey of cats’ stomach contents in urban areas indicated that much of the wild fauna consisted of small lizards rather than birds.

Cats and Dogs

If there are cat-hating dogs in the neighborhood you will have to protect your cat. Most cats are quicker than dogs; where there is a one-to-one challenge, the cat can usually look after itself. When there is more than one dog, the cat can sometimes be in trouble, particularly if it is cornered. The cat usually adopts a defensive role and the dog at worst ends up with a scratched nose or a punctured eye. In the worst situations a cat can be torn apart and killed. Cats and dogs of the one family nearly always get along very well. This is particularly the case if one or the other has been introduced as a young animal. The older animal mothers the other one. It is a common sight to see cats and dogs of the same family playing with each other in the garden. If you have no fences or your own dog is a problem with your cat, the best idea is to have accessible high areas in the garden where your cat can escape. Alternatively, have a small cat door which only allows the cat through.

Cats and Fish

Goldfish swimming in a neighbor’s garden pool are another source of interest for your cat. This may provoke some ‘communication’ between you and your neighbor. Although there is no law to stop a cat from going fishing, your neighbor may take steps to stop your cat from roaming near the goldfish pond. The simplest method is to cover the pond with a wire grill.


A microscopic organism, coccidiosis lives and multiplies in the cells of the intestinal tract. It affects mainly young animals and is particularly prevalent where overcrowding exists, such as in breeding establishments or pet shops. It causes diarrhea, lethargy, weight loss and rough coat. The diagnosis can be made by examining feces under a microscope. The disease must be specifically treated; ordinary anti-diarrhea treatments have only a temporary effect.

Congenital Defects

Unlike the dog, the cat has very few congenital defects.


The signs of constipation are straining, listlessness and decreased appetite. In serious and chronic cases, vomiting may also occur. One of the commonest causes is an all-meat diet and consequent nutritional secondary parathyroidism (N.S.H.) which results in the narrowing the pelvic outlet, in turn causing constriction of the boy,. Fecal build-up forward of this constriction results in tension of the intestine. Even though fecal matter may escape from this distended area initially, the muscle in the intestinal walls stretch so that the bowel is permanently ballooned. The right type of diet is important in resolving the condition. Dried food or food high in calcium content, such bone, tends to aggravate the problem. Treatment is by using fecal softeners such as Dilax or Coloxyl tablets combine: with paraffin oil at the rate of one teaspoon twice a day. In addition, commercial enemas or warm, soapy water can be used to evacuate the lower bowel. In cases where conservative treatment is unsuccessful, surgery can be performed to remove the fecal contents from the intestine and to widen the pelvic outlet. Twice-weekly application: of oil, fecal softeners and diets with high moisture, such as tinned foods, will help to prevent the condition. Live:- milk and kidneys tend to have a laxative effect in cats. The amount of medication or the degree of change of diet governed by the relevant activity of the bowel.


A persistent cough is an indication that something is wrong with the cat and it should not be ignored. Coughing can be due to irritation of the throat, the windpipe or the lungs. It can be caused by: lungworms, which are caught when the cat eats lizard, grasshoppers or cockroaches: migrating roundworms ; congestion caused by cat flu : pneumonia; bronchitis; tight collars; foreign bodies in the windpipe. Hair-balls cause regurgitation rather than a cough. If coughing is persistent, the cat should be taken to the veterinary surgeon for diagnosis, as home remedies to suppress the cough without curing the problem.

Cystitis (Inflammation of the Bladder)

The first indication of cystitis is often that the cat is becoming dirty about the house—urinating in places other than its sanitary tray. There is increased frequency of urination. with small quantities being passed. Frequently the urine is bloodstained and contains small whitish crystals, and the cat may strain. The area around the genitals tends to become contaminated with urine and has an ammonia odor. Cats with this condition remain bright, however, and continue to eat in the majority of cases. Sometimes there is increased thirst and occasionally an attack may be ushered by fever and vomiting. The condition is best treated with specific antibiotics which are excreted in high concentration in the urine. If the patient’s urine is alkaline the use of acidifiers is recommended. The alkalinity can be determined in the laboratory. The general treatment of cystitis includes increasing the water intake by the administration of common salt either in the food or in the drinking water. Eliminate dry cat foods from the diet, as these tend to decrease overall water intake, resulting in more concentration of the urine. Although dry foods (10 per cent water) tend to increase the thirst of the cat more than tinned foods (80 per cent water), the overall water intake on dry foods is less than with tinned food because of the different percentages of water in the food.


When dandruff occurs it is most obvious along the back line of the cat. If the hair in the affected area is sparse and the remaining hairs are bristle-like, the dandruff may due to a hormonal deficiency. If the hair coat is normal glossy, the dandruff may be due to a diet deficient in essential fatty acids. These can be replaced by the additional of fat to the diet or by adding butter or margarine at rate of one teaspoonful per day to the cat’s diet.


Depression is a symptom of many diseases and of ma: problems. It may be caused by a fever, incorrect diet (particularly vitamin B-group deficiency), any disease requiring incubation of viral diseases such as cat flu, tooth decay or fight wounds. It may also be caused constipation or a blocked bladder. Cats can also become messed by a change in environment—for example, being n a cattery, being banned from the house for some the introduction of a new animal to the household.
These are some of the common conditions causing depression in the cat, but there are many others. Unless the reason for the depression is obvious, it is best to consult a veterinary surgeon


Diarrhea occurs when something irritates the gut and stomachs it push the food through the intestines at such a fast that water and nutrients are not able to be resorbed in large bowel. This can lead to dehydration, loss of alit and the loss of important electrolytes. Diarrhea must always be controlled as quickly as possible. Diarrhea can be caused by: bacteria; coccidiosis; diet; viruses, such as feline enteritis; worms, especially roundworm infestations in young kittens.
Some tinned foods might disagree with your cat and cause diarrhea. Milk has a component called lactose rich requires the presence of an enzyme called lactase to break down (digest) the lactose. Cats deficient in the enzyme have a persistent diarrhea when fed cow’s milk. Take the cat off milk, but ensure that you replace the calcium content with calcium carbonate in the food at the rate of half a teaspoon per 100 grams of red meat. If the cat is a commercial diet this is unnecessary. Once the cat’s stools are back to normal, cow’s milk may be restarted at e rate of 50 per cent concentration with water, or a commercially prepared lactose-free milk which may obtained from a pharmacy.
If the diarrhea is smelly or has blood in it, veterinary attention should be sought immediately. If the cat appears normal but the stools are liquid, the diarrhea should be controlled by starchy foods, boiled milk, cooked rice, cottage cheese. The administration of half the child’s usage of commonly used anti-diarrhea treatments can be i for twenty-four hours. If the diarrhea persists, seek veterinary attention.

Drinking, Decreased

Some cats, particularly Siamese, do not drink milk. Others do not seem to find it necessary to drink fluids at all. In some cases these cats get their water from other sources such as garden taps or baths. Cats have the facility to concentrate their urine very highly and so long as they are on a moist diet which contains 70 per cent water (such as tinned commercial meat), their fluid requirement is quite minimal. Where the cat is transferred to a dry food diet it is important to teach the cat to drink. This may be done by moistening the food or adding a small amount of salt to it.
Decreased fluid intake in the unwell animal is a real problem. The average adult cat weighs about 4 kilograms. Small body weights dehydrate very quickly, and it is important in any illness to keep the cat’s body fluid up from the first day. This can be done by orally feeding the cat glucose and water, at the rate of one tablespoon of glucose per 600 milliliters of water; the cat should receive about 40 milliliters (4 tablespoons) of this fluid orally per day, in four or five doses. If the cat refuses to drink, it will become dehydrated. Dehydration is evidenced by the skin failing to return when lifted from the body. Lift the skin at the scruff of the cat’s neck; it should return by the count of three. The earlier dehydration is detected, the less damage will be done. If the cat continues to refuse to take fluids orally, it should be taken to a veterinary surgeon for intravenous administration of fluid.

Drinking, Increased

Increased drinking can be caused by dried food diets, fever, kidney disease, vomiting, diarrhea, pyometron or diabetes


Although most cats dislike water, they can swim for a short while before becoming exhausted and drowning. After rescuing your cat from the water, hold it by the back legs, upside down, allowing the water to drain out.
Swing the cat around your head, three times, holding by the back legs, centrifugally forcing out excess water. Then place the cat on its side and apply artificial respiration. When it revives treat for shock and take it to the vet.

Dry Coat

A dry coat can be due to any debilitating condition. It can also be due to worms or diet deficiencies, especially essential fatty acids which can be supplied in the form of additional butter or margarine or by increasing the fatty content of the food. Vitamin A deficiencies can be rectified by adding liver to the diet, but the liver should not constitute more than 10-15 per cent of the diet. Hormonal deficiencies can lead to dry coat.


This is the term to describe difficulty in giving birth. Abnormal births are usually caused by small openings in the pelvis, the result of healed fractures from motor vehicle accidents or spontaneous fractures and deformities resulting from calcium deficiencies; this is more common in Siamese cats.
All queens suffering from pelvic deformities should be spayed at the earliest opportunity. Some birth difficulties result from abnormal presentation of the fetus sideways, oversized kittens or fetal monstrosities. Caesarian section in the cat is very rarely necessary. However, where the queen has been Clear the mouth and nostrils of straining without result for more than one hour, a veterinary surgeon should membranes but leave the cord be contacted.

Ear Disorders

Ear disorders in cats are not as prevalent as in dogs because they have short-pricked ears with little hair. This allows good air circulation to keep the ear dry.

Cancer of the Ear

This occurs in white cats or white-eared cats.


Deafness is a congenital and hereditary problem in blue-eyed white cats. Deafness in old age is caused by senile calcification within the middle ear. Temporary or partial deafness may be associated with ear infections. Apart from clearing any ear infections, nothing can be done for deafness. When cats become deaf, it is important to keep them away from motor vehicles.


Hematoma (in this instance, cauliflower ear) is seen far less often in the cat than in the dog. It is caused by a burst blood vessel in the ear lobe. The ear will need veterinary attention so that it can be drained and sutured for about a fortnight. It usually follows extensive head shaking or scratching because of irritation caused by an infection of the inner ear canal.

Infected Ears

Head shaking, scratching and odor from the ears all indicate infections. Ear infections are usually started by mites in the ear canal. In a recent survey, some 25 per cent of cats were found to have ear mites. The mites burrow and produce inflammation of the skin of the ear canal, which paves the way for secondary bacterial infection. The canal is usually moist and warm, and the leakage of serum from the attacking mites provides an excellent medium for bacteria and fungi to grow. In some cases of severe infestation, fits may occur.
After cleaning the ears thoroughly with a 1 per cent Hibitane solution, control the mites by treating with one of the commercial ear drops that are available from your veterinary surgeon. It is important when treating your cat’s ears to clean out any residual debris before the next treatment.
This can be done with cotton buds (or cotton-wool on a matchstick) dipped in methylated spirits. Also clean the nozzle of the eardrop container before and after application to each ear to prevent transfer of infection. Shake the container well first. Place the prescribed number of drops in the ear and massage the ear canal down behind the jawbone for about thirty seconds to ensure that the drops go to the bottom of the ear (otherwise the cat will shake them out). Always complete the prescribed course. Many drops contain a local anesthetic which gives immediate relief from the pain but does not mean the infection is cleared up. After a cat has had an infection of the ear, watch it carefully for a month to six weeks in case the infection returns. In severe cases, seek veterinary attention as the cat may have to be anesthetized to allow the ear to be syringed clean before the first treatment.

Hair Loss

Partial hair loss immediately in front of an ear in the temple region may be due to ringworm, grass mites or notoedric mange. If the skin appears normal although sparsely haired and the cat is not scratching at the area, the lack of hair is probably normal for that cat.


When a queen is suckling a large litter, there is the danger that she may suffer from calcium deficiency. In extreme cases she may suffer from the disorder eclampsia, when the kittens are three to eight weeks old. Symptoms include shivering, heavy breathing, staggering, high temperature and eventual coma. Take her immediately to the vet, who will administer an injection of calcium. The kittens, at that age, can be weaned.


When the cat has received an electric shock, apply artificial respiration to revive it, treat for shock and take it to the vet.


Euthanasia (painless death) usually involves the administration of an overdose of anesthetic. The cat dies within six seconds.

Facial Paralysis

Injuries to the nerves controlling the facial muscles cause droopiness on the side of the face affected. Sometimes saliva runs from the paralyzed corner of the mouth. If secondary to a wound or abscess, it is then a matter of time after these have been corrected to ascertain whether the nerve has recovered

Eye Disorders

The appearance of the eyes is very important in reflecting the condition of your cat. The most common abnormality is a prolapse of the third eyelid, which is often referred to by owners as a skin growing over the eye from the corner. This condition can be caused by tranquilization or, more commonly, is a non-specific indication that the cat is in ill health. It can be caused by worms, viruses, including cat flu (panleukopaenia) or feline leukemia virus, dietary abnormalities such as vitamin A deficiency, fatty acid deficiency and anaemic conditions. If the cat has prolapse of the third eyelids but is in perfect health otherwise, do not be alarmed—it may be incubating a disease which its body will overcome without help. If other signs are present, consult your veterinary surgeon.


Blindness is rare in cats and usually occurs only in the very aged animal. Providing the cat remains in its own environment, its other sensory mechanisms will permit it to live a normal life.

A reversible inflammatory condition of the nerve of the can cause sudden temporary blindness in young cats. vitamin A deficiencies and low protein diets can also cause – Because of the complexity and interconnections, many of the eye diseases, treatment is best left to your veterinary surgeon.


Cataracts are rarely seen in cats, but when present may be associated with sugar diabetes. Dilation of the oval black pupils, in this case coupled with third eyelid prolapse. As with the feline respiratory diseases, Siamese and Burmese cats are the most susceptible. Because of the difficulty of treatment, veterinary attention is essential. Otherwise blindness may result.

Runny or Pussy Eyes

Runny or pussy eyes can be caused by conjunctivitis (which is an inflammation of the mucous membranes of the eyes caused by infection), a foreign body in the eye, dust or dirt. Home treatment includes rinsing the eye with an eye wash or boracic acid solution. If the condition does not resolve itself within twenty-four hours take the cat to the vet.

Dilated Pupils

The dilation of the pupils from the normal vertical slit to the circular black area in the eyes is a non-specific sign the cat is unwell. This is particularly the case if the fail to constrict when a torch is shone in the eyes. It is commonly seen in vitamin B-group deficiencies, tick poisoning, ocular neuritis (inflammation of the optic nerve) many other debilitating sicknesses of the cat.


Keratitis is an inflammatory condition of the glassy part of the eye (the cornea). It starts as a blue haze and can progress to ulceration, pigmentation and finally, with the growth of blood vessels, can give the appearance of a red, fleshy sore. The most common cause of keratitis in the cat is the feline respiratory virus. It is a common and serious disease in cats, particularly in kittens. In young cats four to weeks of age it is not uncommon for this condition to continue for six to eight weeks, despite intensive treatment. An acute viral conjunctivitis; in this case caused by the cat `flu’ syndrome. Runny eyes can also be caused by a blocked tear duct. These ducts normally take excess tear production from the eyes to the inside of the nose. They can be permanently damaged in Persian cats or any breed with a pushed-in face. They may also become blocked with the cat flu virus or by infection. Sometimes the cat is born with the end of the tear duct covered by a fold of skin. The veterinarian will administer a dye to the eye and note its appearance at the nostril. Sometimes the duct can be flushed clear. Acute conjunctivitis is indicated by a sensitivity to light; the eye is closed and there is a watery, profuse discharge. The mucous membrane of the eye is red. In chronic cases there is less watery discharge, less sensitivity to light and the eye is usually open. Conjunctivitis may also be caused by entropion, an inward turning of the eyelashes which rub on the eye. Ectropion is an outward turning of the eyelids, allowing accumulation of dust in the eye. Entropion, especially of the cat’s left lower eyelid, causing conjunctivitis. To apply eye ointment: push the two lids towards the nose and place the ointment in the corner.

Feline Aids

Is an immune-deficiency disease allowing the affected cat to succumb to other diseases. It is transmitted in the saliva, usually by biting. There is a higher incidence in undersexed males. It will not cause aids in humans. There is no vaccine.

Feline Enteritis

Feline enteritis is a major infectious disease of cats, usually known as feline panleukopaenia. There is no effective treatment for this viral disease. Prevention is by vaccination of kittens at ten weeks and again twelve to eighteen months later.

Feline Infectious Anemia

This is caused by a blood parasite which attacks the red blood corpuscles. Many cats carry this parasite without ever showing adverse symptoms. A flare-up only happens when a cat’s natural resistance is markedly lowered by stress, starvation or disease. The cat gets a high persistent fever with loss of appetite and a rapidly developing anaemia noticeable in its very pale mucous membrane. Because of the anaemia, the cat becomes depressed weak. The cat should be taken to your veterinary surgeon
Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukemia virus infects cats of all ages. It is a cancer which results in tumors in various parts of the body and is ultimately fatal. There is a very long incubation period, during which time the cat becomes – down and susceptible to other diseases. Leukemia may also be associated with anaemia, breeding and deaths in young kittens. Infection can become a serious problem where numbers of cats are housed together. as a breeding cattery. Evidence at this stage shows that the leukaemia virus of cats cannot cause disease in human/ Cats that are infected shed the virus in their saliva, and nasal discharges. Other cats become infected by taking these excretions into their mouths. This can happen sharing feed bowls, licking, biting or merely being in contact with other cats. Queens can also transmit the disease to their kittens before they are born or afterwards in the milk. In dry situations the virus does not last more than few hours. Some cats develop a resistance to the virus although sometimes the resistance is only enough to prevent disease symptoms from appearing but not enough to eliminate the virus. This results in a symptomless state. Although there is no treatment for the disease, there is a special blood test which can be done to detect contaminated cats. A vaccine is available.

Feline Respiratory Disease

A viral infection of the upper respiratory tract, also known as ‘cat flu’ and ‘snuffles’. It is easily transmitted, but can be prevented by a course of vaccination. The importance of vaccinating your cat against this disease and feline panleukopaenia

Feline Neurological Syndrome (FUS)

F.U.S. is characterized by cystitis with blood in the female cat, and a blockage of the urinary tract in the male cat. It is more common in males. The condition appears to have been increasing in incidence in recent years—the increase is ascribed by some to the growing popularity of dry cat food. The condition is comparatively rare in cats under one year but peaks at two years of age. Affected cats are more likely to be neutered, lazy males that have restricted access to outdoors. They are more likely to live in households with more than one cat and long-haired breeds seem to be more susceptible. Affected cats tend to drink less. A recent survey indicated that the feeding of dry food is numerically associated with the occurrence of F.U.S. in clinical cases of the condition; but of these cases, 25 per cent had received no dry cat food in their diet.
In the early stages of the condition the male cat licks his penis frequently, occasionally producing sufficient trauma to cause bleeding. The penis is often protruded from the sheath for considerable periods of time. The cat may often become dirty about the house, squatting in odd corners of the room attempting to urinate and avoiding his sanitary Attempts at urination with vigorous straining efforts are often accompanied by a loud groaning cry. Sometimes the owner attributes this to constipation and treats the cat with this, with a resultant loss in valuable time. In early a hard, swollen area the size of an orange can be felt the abdomen. This is the distended bladder. Sometimes can see a yellowish, chalky material in the eye of the after twenty-four to thirty-six hours, the cat may go into almost a comatose condition. In these cases, the bladder may be rupture if handled. Signs of coma, vomiting, dehydration collapse precede death. Treatment by a veterinary professional is therefore essential. By the time the owner realizes the cat is in trouble, the ease has usually progressed to a serious stage, and even through the removal of the urinary plug causing the problem the cat is to be hospitalized for some days. Intravenous electrolyte therapy, together with appropriate antibiotics, is necessary. Straining, and licking the tip of the penis, are signs of Prevention of recurrence is very important, for once the cat has suffered an obstruction it is highly probable that the condition will recur, often with an increasing frequency. It 1s suggested that there is some physiological difference between stone-forming and non-stone-forming cats. In stoneforming cats preventative measures are aimed at reduction of the urinary magnesium concentration by provision of a diet low in magnesium. at dilution of the urine, and lowering the specific gravity of the urine. The cat should be fed foods low in magnesium for at least fourteen days to allow the excretion of any excess magnesium from the body. Following this, they should be fed with milk and low-magnesium food. Water should be available to the cat at all times. The normal diet of the cat is rich in magnesium. Consult your vet for information on local brands. When cats are introduced to dry foods it is important to teach them to drink. This can be done by adding water to the dry food to make it mushy or by adding salt to the food. Initially the dry food should form only a part of the diet, not the entire diet. A cat transferred from a wet diet containing 70 per cent water (such as canned food) to a dry food diet would require ten times as much fluid intake. One reason for the increased incidence of F.U.S. might be that cats transferred to a dry diet do not increase their water intake sufficiently. Stone-forming cats should be allowed easy access to outdoors for the purpose of urinating, as it is known that retention of urine within the bladder helps to produce F.U.S. Fat cats appear to be more prone to develop this condition, so dietary measures should be aimed at reducing the body weight—always providing that magnesium rich foods are not a part of such dietary measures. In the female cat F.U.S. does not result in obstruction, as the female’s urethra is short and larger in diameter. The clinical signs in the female are a tendency to urinate around the house instead of in its sanitary tray, and increased frequency of urination with only small quantities passed. The act of urination appears to be painful, with the cat squatting and straining for several minutes at a time. Usually the urine becomes bloodstained and has a strong ammonia odor. Veterinary treatment is still important.


Fever is a rise in body temperature and can be caused by viruses, such as feline enteritis, feline respiratory disease: feline leukaemia; bacteria, such as those from infected bites (abscesses), septicemia or kidney disease; muscle contractions caused by convulsions or excitement; paralysis, of the respiratory system (for example, from tick poisoning resulting in inability to ventilate properly; heatstroke. The cat’s normal temperature is 38.5°C.

First Aid Box

A number of things that could be kept in an emergency first aid box is limitless. The following is a basic list.
Acriflavin, mercurochrome, triple dye, zinc creamWound dressing powder (preferably one containing an antibiotic)Antibiotic/cortisone skin ointment Antibiotic dispenser Antibiotic eye ointment Eye wash Antiseptic wash (e.g. chlorhexidene)Hydrogen peroxide 3%Flea powder Flea rinse A roll of 5-centimeter wide adhesive bandage, such as Elastoplast Two rolls of conforming gauze bandage or clean white cloth Cotton-wool Scissors 50 milliliters liquid paraffin Tweezers Thermometer Cat carry basket

Fish Hooks

Fish hooks are a common problem; fishermen arrive horn, with a bait on the end of their line; the cat eats the bait and the hook as well. If the cat will remain still and the hook is in accessible place—for example, the lip—the shaft of the hoc, the line should be cut with a pair of pliers or snips. The hook is then continued on its path and out. Fish hooks usually have to be removed under general anesthetic.


If the fits are due to a flea wash or other skin contaminants wash the cat immediately in copious quantities of water
A cat that is having a fit should be placed in a bag, or other container and kept as quiet as possible in a semi-dark room until the fit has passed. Then take it urgently to a veterinary surgeon. It is very difficult to make a cat vomit—don’t try. Go to the vet. Fits in the cat, although not common, are usually companied by frothing at the mouth.
Common poisonings are caused by bathing cats in Malathion, or tick _ flea rinses of an incorrect dosage. Another poison cause problems is strychnine. This is usually from baits laid intentionally for noisy dogs in the neighborhood. Encephalitis, inflammation of the brain—caused by bacterial or viral infections.
Epilepsy is uncommon in cats. Fits can be caused by low blood glucose level or low blood calcium particularly in females that have just had a litter of kittens and are in heavy lactation.


A flu’ is another name for feline respiratory disease.


Fractures in the cat are rare. They usually occur as a result of motor vehicle accidents or falls from heights. The most common reason for fractures is nutritional secondary parathyroidism (N.S.H.), which is a dangerous consequence of an all-meat diet. This causes the cat to have thin-walled bones. Cats with this condition can fracture a ice by merely jumping from a table. To handle a cat with a fracture, lift the cat by the scruff of the neck and support its body but leave the fractured area dangling. Place it in box or blanket and take it to the vet.

Fungal skin infections

Moniliasis affects the external ear canal, nail folds, anal opening and vaginal membranes. Sores on the mucous membranes appear as grey-white areas with a foul-smelling discharge; external sores are covered with a brown crust. Diagnosis and treatment of these sores are best left to your veterinary surgeon. Ringworm is very common, particularly in young kittens, and affects the head and legs, with a tendency to become generalized. The classic case begins as one or more pinkish, scaly areas which spread outwards. The condition is caused by a fungus (not a worm) which invades the wall of the hair. The hair becomes brittle and breaks off close to the skin. The mature sore is well-defined, round, discrete and covered with adhering grey scales. Diagnosis and therapy are best left to a veterinary surgeon. Ringworm can be transferred to humans; it is common for young children to get ringworm from kittens. Ringworm of the claws is very similar in appearance to paronychia. The claws become misshapen and have a mottled appearance. The claw shell becomes loose and is usually shed. Local treatment three times daily for fourteen days with tincture of iodine is often satisfactory. Otherwise see your vet.

Grass Eating

Grass eating is normal and is done for two reasons: the first to take in essential vitamins and minerals; the second is cause the cat to vomit stale food.


Groaning is usually due to the cat having severe pain, as 1:1 a blocked bladder. The cat has a deep yowling cry.


Hematoma can cause cauliflower ear.

Handling Cats

In their normal domestic situation most cats are quite calm and placid, but sometimes the veneer of domestication wears thin—for example, during traveling, or after injury. When transporting a cat, confine it in a firmly fastened basket, carrying case, zip bag or pillow slip. Ensure that the cat has sufficient air. When restraining a cat, take it by the scruff of the neck (the loose skin behind the ears) and the back legs; hold it firmly. An injured cat will sometimes bite its owner. Keep the cat’s mouth away from you. Vicious cats can be caught by using a cat-catcher, which is a 1.5-meter length of hollow pipe through which a rope loop has been passed. The loop is placed over the cat’s head at a distance and pulled tight through the pipe. The cat can then be placed in a bag, basket or case. Once captured, a vicious cat is best handled by a professional such as the vet.


Iodine deficiency in the pregnant cat or cortisone administered to a queen during pregnancy may produce deformity in her kittens—where there is a cleft in the roof of the mouth.

Head Down
Flexion of the head downwards.

Head Shaking

Head shaking is usually a sign of irritation in the ear.


Cats suffer greatly from excessive heat and should not be left in hot rooms or cars. Long-haired cats, especially, will become overheated very quickly. Cats have a very small body weight at 4 kilograms, and a high surface area per unit mass of body. This means the cat’s thermostatic mechanism has a much more difficult time controlling fluctuations in the outside temperature than that of most other animals. Symptoms of heat exhaustion in a cat are fever, heavy and labored breathing, vomiting, prostration and eventually coma. Remove the cat to a cool place, wet it thoroughly and place it in a draught or in front of a fan. Do not give it any liquid while it is unconscious. When it regains consciousness, give it a stimulant, such as a teaspoonful of made coffee, which contains caffeine. Take it to a veterinary surgeon, as it will require further treatment for the next few days.

Hernia (Ruptures)

Four types of hernias are seen in cats:
Diaphragmatic hernia—caused when the diaphragm ruptures, allowing the intestines and other abdominal organs (such as the liver) to invade the thoracic cavity. This makes accident difficult for the cat to breathe. This condition is usually the result of a motor vehicle accident. Inguinal hernia—appears as a soft swelling in the groin, on one or both sides. The swelling may vary in size from time to time and usually disappears on pressure. This condition is hereditary, and treatment involves surgery. Scrotal hernia—occurs when part of the bowel descends into the scrotum with the testicles. This condition is very rare in the cat and does require surgery. Umbilical hernia—located in the centre of the abdomen in the region of the navel. Small ones contain only fat and are best left alone. Surgery on larger ones should be left to the discretion of your veterinary surgeon.


Much fuss is made about hair-balls, particularly by Breeders. As a practicing veterinary surgeon I have rarely seen them cause problems in cats. Usually the cat copes quite well by regurgitating the ball of hair. Certainly the administration of paraffin or vegetable oil will help the cat pass the hair-balls. This should be administered at the rate of half a teaspoon twice a week.

Hormonal Problems

Hormonal imbalance in the cat manifests itself in strange behavior and in skin disorders. Consult your vet for diagnosis and treatment.


Lack of coordination can be of a general nature and caused by an ear infection, a central nervous system disease such as meningitis or encephalitis, or vitamin A or thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiencies. General illness can cause weakness. Weakness in the hind legs can be due to ticks, fractures of the spine or limbs, dislocated hip joint or infections caused by cat bites.


Irritability can be caused by a general disease situation, but it is more usually caused by a dietary deficiency of vitamin B, especially thiamine (vitamin B1). It can also be caused by vitamin E deficiencies (when high unsaturated fatty acids have been fed—for example, canned red tuna, cod liver oil, liver and horse meat). Excess vitamin A, in high liver diets, can also cause irritability.


The causes of jaundice in the cat are similar to those in the dog.

Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is very common in cats, particularly in old age. The signs include loss of appetite, weight loss, increased drinking of water to the point of sitting over the water bowl, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation, dehydration, ulceration of the tongue and gums, brownish scum on teeth, increased frequency of urination, occasionally increased respiratory rate, anemia and depression. In many cases, the disease has progressed to a serious stage by the time the cat is brought for veterinary attention and permanent damage may have been done to the kidneys. Because of the complexity of the different types of urinary diseases and the different methods of treatment for each of them, early veterinary attention is advised. Once the kidney disease crisis has been controlled, conservative medical management can be instituted. This includes maintaining fluids, electrolytes and acid/base balance by providing unlimited access to water. The excretory load of waste products in the blood presented to the kidneys should be reduced. Protein intake must be lowered to reduce the excretory load on the kidneys. The caloric value of the diet must be raised to compensate for the reduced protein content and to ensure that body proteins are not used for energy purposes. Experiments have shown that cats will accept up to 64 per cent fat in their diet and remain healthy. Apparently cats find such a diet very palatable, so it may be preferable to give more fat than starches. Protein content of the diet should be of high biological value—lean meat, chicken, eggs, cottage cheese, milk and cream. As the kidneys eventually lose their ability to conserve sodium, salt should be given in the drinking water at the rate of ‘/4 teaspoonful per 500 milliliters. Cats with kidney disease must be allowed unrestricted access to water. Only if significant vomiting occurs after drinking should the supply of water be regulated and then only until vomiting has been brought under control by the use of drugs. Maintain the animal’s appetite by using appetite increasers (anabolic agents), treat all infections properly, and eliminate any vomiting or diarrhea. Care must also be taken when prescribing drugs for cats with kidney diseases, as the kidneys are the major route of excretion of drugs.


Lameness can be due to abscesses, fight wounds, fractures of the leg, a dislocated hip, foreign bodies in the pads (such as glass, burrs or thorns), infections between the toes, and ruptured ligaments in the knee joint. Stiffness in the foreleg may be due to excess vitamin A in the diet, particularly where liver is fed.


A bacterial skin infection in the cat, affecting mainly the skin on the head.

Loss of Balance

Middle ear infections can cause loss of balance. It can also be an indication of ticks or of vitamin B deficiency, especially thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency.

Malabsorption Syndrome

Malabsorption is the end result of any disease affecting the small intestine or its lymphatic drainage to the extent that there is interference with the passage of digested nutrients into the appropriate circulatory system. It is a very complex syndrome and can only be diagnosed and dealt with by a vet.


Inflammation of the skin caused by mites. The condition is usually referred to as grass itch.


Mastitis is an inflammation of the mammary glands which usually occurs during lactation—although occasionally a torn may suffer from the same condition. The mammary gland is a hollow, moist, warm organ where bacteria can multiply rapidly, causing a high temperature and making the gland hot, swollen and painful. Suckling kittens may become unwell as the milk is watery, blood tinged, clotted and contains pus. Abscess formation and rupture of the wall of the gland may also occur. It is important to seek veterinary aid immediately. Where possible the gland should be milked out continually and the animal put on to antibiotics. Hot compresses on the outside of the gland will increase circulation of the antibiotics and give some pain relief. Retention of milk after losing a litter can precipitate mastitis.

Metabolic Skin Conditions

Endocrine dermatitis affects the hindquarters and abdomen of the cat. It affects both sides symmetrically and results in partial hair loss, with the remaining hair short, dry and brittle. The skin appears normal; there is no redness, scaling or itchiness. The animal is usually a castrated male desexed female; it is rare in unaltered cats. The condition can be rectified by treatment with thyroid tablets and appropriate hormone therapy. Nutritional alopecia usually appears as a short, ungroomed coat which is harsh and lusterless, accompanied by excessive shedding and generalized dandruff. but no itchiness. It is usually seen in undernourished animals and in females under the strain of late pregnancy or heavy lactation. A good response is achieved by providing the animal with an ample and adequate high 130 percent diet with mineral and multi-vitamins and nutrients. Where possible, wean her kittens.

Milk for Kittens

Cat’s milk contains about twice as much protein as cow’s milk, so care needs to be taken when feeding orphaned kittens. Weaning should commence at about four weeks

Mineral Imbalance

The calcium : phosphorus ratio is an important factor in the health of the cat, particularly pregnant and lactating queens. Cats susceptible to feline urological syndrome will probably need a diet that is low in magnesium.

Miscellaneous Dermatoses

Lick dermatitis occurs on the inside of thighs, the lower abdomen, back and tail, and any other area that the animal can lick conveniently. It is more common in short-haired thoroughbred cats. The signs are well-defined areas of complete hairlessness. The surrounding hair is usually stained brownish-red by the saliva in light-colored cats. Various degrees of inflammation are seen in the hairless skin. The cat continuously licks the area. The condition probably starts with a local irritation arising from any number of causes, but boredom and nervousness are psychological factors that do contribute to the condition. In many cases, response to therapy is disappointing. Sometimes a change in the animal’s environment and routine is all that is necessary. Rodent ulcer (eosinophilic granuloma) usually develops in the upper lip opposite the canine tooth. It can occur on the hard or soft palate and occasionally on the skin of abdomen, legs and feet. The lip usually shows an early localized zone of inflammation with a raised edge, progressing to a yellowish-pink ulcerated area with a glistening surface. It can occur elsewhere on the body as circumscribed, multiple, hairless, granulating, pink, moist areas on the abdomen and the inside of the thighs and feet. The cause is uncertain, though it is generally thought to be caused by the cat’s rough tongue. The lesion may eventually develop into a cancer. This condition should be seen by a veterinary surgeon immediately. Stud tail occurs on the top side of the tail, along the midline of the back, and occasionally extends to the head. It is caused by the activities of the cat during mating. Signs are scant or profuse, dry or oily, white or yellowish-white flaky scales throughout the hair. They vary in size from 1 to 3 millimeters. There is no complete cure, but the condition can be kept under control by regular bathing in hexachlorophene or Seleen shampoo.

Motor Vehicle Accidents

If the cat runs away from the accident on all fours it can be assumed that its skeletal structure is unharmed. The cat should be caught and checked by a vet for internal injuries.
If the cat is lying on the road gently move it to safety, allow it sufficient time (say, five or ten minutes) to recuperate from the shock of the accident before moving it. Then take the scruff of the cat’s neck in one hand and slip the other hand under the cat’s body. This should be done from behind the cat in order to avoid your being bitten. Be warned: cats in this situation will bite their owners. Take the cat immediately to a veterinary surgeon. If the cat has severe respiratory difficulty, do not leave it to rest but hold it upside down by the hind legs to allow any blood to drain the lungs.

If there is any bleeding of an extremity, place a tourniquet between the wound and the heart. If the bleeding coming from the body where it is difficult to apply a tourniquet, use a clean handkerchief and apply pressure to reduce the blood flow.

Mouth Disorders

_orders of the mouth in cats are now extremely common. :s particularly concerning that few cats reach middle age -;.::bout severe ‘dental caries—usually resulting in extraction their teeth. This may be a reflection of the soft diets that they are fed. When it is still a kitten. the cat should be encouraged to :ear and strip meat from large bones. Dry food also has a good effect on reducing the build-up of tartar on the teeth.

Bad Breath

Bad breath can be due to the type of diet being fed, particularly fresh meat. Any one of the following conditions .:an also cause bad breath.


The mouth is a very vascular cavity and sharp objects can easily lacerate the blood vessels. Take the cat to a veterinary surgeon, as a general anesthetic may be needed to Locate the damaged vessels.


Dribbling can be caused by convulsions, poisoning, stimulation of the salivary glands by infection or by chemical substances, bad teeth, infections of the mouth caused by viruses, bacteria or other organisms, trench mouth or infections of the gum. Some cats may dribble when earring—this is normal.

Inflammation of the Gums

Inflammation of the gums is also associated with kidney disease. Imbalances of calcium in the diet will cause the gums to recede from the teeth, gaps in which food can accumulate. This food will decay, causing bad breath.

Trench mouth

Trench mouth is a complex of organisms which cause inflammation in the arches of the back of the mouth. It leads to salivation and bad breath. There is a theory that the condition is perpetuated by dietary deficiencies. Trench mouth is a very difficult condition to treat. The B-group vitamins may help, although for effective treatment veterinary advice should be sought.


Paronychia is a disorder in which the ends of the toes are swollen and pus is visible in the claw fold.

Neoplasms of the Skin

The cell carcinoma commonly appears on the tips of ears. the eyelids, nose and other skin areas sparsely covered by hair. It is more frequent in unpigmented skin lightly colored cats. The lesion is usually single and irregular in size and shape, and appears as a red, slightly raised, ulcerating area, with a thickened border. The speed of invasion of surrounding healthy tissue varies greatly, and in the latter stage a secondary spread to the local lymph nodes and lungs is common. Because it is cancer. take the cat to your veterinary surgeon immediately for a diagnosis. Basal cell carcinomas may appear anywhere on the cat’s body but the neck is the most frequent site. The tumor is usually a single, discrete, rounded, rubbery, hairless elevation. and the surface may ulcerate. This condition requires veterinary attention immediately.

Nose Disorders

The sense of smell in the cat is very important to the animal’s eating habits. Cats will only eat if they can smell their food. Sick cats, especially those with upper respiratory diseases, should be offered smelly foods such as sardines, pilchards or tuna. In addition, the nose should be kept free of discharge by regular cleaning and the use of decongestants.

Cancer of the Nose

Cancer of the nose follows rodent ulcer of the lip and spreads to the nose area. In the early stages it is seen as a wet, weeping chronic sore. The cat is very sensitive in the nasal area. As the cancer invades further into the nose, the lesion becomes more inflamed. The cat’s face becomes so sore that it will not eat and it tends to snuffle. The earlier therapy can commence the better chance the cat has of survival. Failure to respond to conventional therapy indicates that a cancerous change has taken place and radiation treatment is indicated.


If a nasal discharge is watery, it may indicate an allergic sinusitis. If it is accompanied by sneezing it indicates feline. respiratory disease. A pussy discharge may indicate a later stage of the viral disease or an infection of the sinuses or lower areas of the respiratory system, such as pneumonia. If the discharge is coming from one nostril only, the condition is localized to one side of the sinuses; it may indicate a cheek tooth-root abscess, or a local infection.


Obesity is less of a problem in the cat than it is in the dog. However, more cats are now becoming overweight as a result of leading a sedentary life and being fed good quality commercial rations. It is unhealthy for any animal to be overweight. The most effective way of dieting a cat is to choose a nutritious food which is relatively unpalatable for the cat. If the cat has been on a moist or fresh meat diet, convert it to a dry food diet or try different brands of tinned cat food. Frequently, cats have a very narrow range of foods that they find palatable, so keep trying until you find an unpalatable one. Some cats in urban areas are always in the kitchen, always waiting for high-calorie food dropped by a sympathetic owner. Cats in the wild need to be slim and lithe in order to catch their prey. If they become overweight they are not fast enough to catch their food and they starve until they slim down. Domestic cats are handed their food even when overweight. This is unhealthy and unnatural. Apart from selecting an unpalatable food, feed the cat only one meal a day. It is important to remain steadfast and not give in to the temptation to supplement the cat’s diet with more appetizing food. When the cat becomes hungry, the relatively unpalatable food will be appetizing enough for it to eat. Another diet for slimming a fat cat is to feed it on alternate days with its usual highly palatable diet and leave dehydrated food or unpalatable food around for it to eat on the other days. However, despite these measures, a cat’s natural agility allows it to scale high fences and beg food from a softhearted neighbor.

Old Age

The average lifespan of a cat is fifteen years, but cats can live into their twenties. The most common problems affecting older cats are dental decay and associated gum problems, and kidney disease. The dental problem can be largely avoided by veterinary check-ups on a twelve-monthly basis. The kidney problem arises because cats eat large amounts of protein, and the kidney of the cat has a remarkable capacity to concentrate urine. This no doubt takes its toll towards the end of the cat’s life. In many cases the kidney and mouth problems are directly related. The cat usually dribbles, drinks excessively, and gradually loses weight.

Painful All Over

Sometimes cats react painfully to touch over large areas of their body. This can be due to multiple cat bites or to a condition called steatitis caused by diets high in unsaturated fatty acids, such as canned red tuna, any sort of fish, cod-liver oil, liver and horse meat.
If the cat’s diet is also low in vitamin E, it will produce steatitis. Most commercial manufacturers are now aware of the problem and add vitamin E to the food. Affected cats are irritable, reluctant to move and have a fever. They have a generalized pain from inflamed body fat which takes on a yellow color. The history of a diet mainly of fish or large amounts of fish oil suggests the diagnosis. Treatment consists of vitamin therapy, 50 milligrams per day, plus a change in diet.


Paralysis is most commonly caused by tick poisoning. Other causes are severance of the spine after a motor vehicle accident; dog attack; an abscess over the back which causes such severe pain that the cat refuses to use its back legs; snake bite; and spider bite.


The larger parasites are worms (roundworms, hookworms. tapeworms, lungworms), fleas, mites and ticks.

Penis Licking

This can be a sign of feline urological syndrome in the male cat.

Parasitic Skin Infections

Feline flea dermatitis can either be localized to the inside of the thighs, the abdomen, under the forelegs and sometimes the base of the tail, or be more generalized and include the lower back, the spinal region and the neck. In severe cases it may extend to cover the entire body. Two forms of the condition occur:Localized, inflamed, small, moist areas up to 2 centimeters across, which later develop into discrete, oval, weeping areas with intense itchiness; a generalized form which shows numerous, small, reddish-brown, moist crusted areas. The skin may become thickened, wrinkled and scaly. Partial hair loss may be evident and the areas will be obviously itchy. The lesions are due to the cat being highly sensitive to the flea saliva. This condition is very common in cats, and its prevention and control is by removal of fleas both from the cat and from its environment. This can resent problems of its own, as most insecticides are toxic oats. Malathion and carbaryl are the only two that offer me degree of safety. They are most conveniently used in form of powders or aerosol sprays, because cats do not being bathed. Powders should be rubbed well into the skin and the surface powder removed by smoothing the hair in its natural direction with a damp cloth. Alternatively, combing the hair after a few minutes will remove comatose fleas as well as excess flea powder. It is important when using any insecticide to read the instructions on the containers. Malathion can be used as a 2 per rent powder or a wash (20 per cent Malathion solution, diluted to 1 dessertspoon to 600 milliliters of water). It should not be used on kittens. Dichlorvos-impregnated powders are 90-100 per cent effective on cats, and the incidence of allergic reaction is low. Oral insecticides in the form of tablets or liquids are available. These should be used only as a last resort, as you would be feeding an insecticide to the cat! However, it doesn’t seem to cause them much harm. The liquid can be added to the food, which is ideal for difficult cats. Instead of having the cat attracting fleas from the surrounding environment to its body (and then trying to eradicate the fleas), it is much better to treat the cat’s surroundings. Use the insecticide in the environment, particularly under houses and in sandy spots where the cat may rest. A suitable insecticide is 30 per cent Malathion spray. Residual insecticides may be sprayed around the skirting boards and under furniture. In severe cases the services of professional pest exterminators may be required. Because cats are extremely sensitive to insecticidal preparations, they should be kept away from the treated area for at least forty-eight hours.

Flea-bite Allergic Dermatitis.

Fly strike usually occurs in incontinent, paralyzed or sick animals which are unable to groom themselves or attend to their wounds. The usual sites are around the anus and other body openings. The hair is moist and matted into clumps and can be pulled out easily. The skin is inflamed and usually has small holes which overlie pockets filled with numerous small white larvae. The area should be clipped and any dead tissue removed, then cleaned with a mild antiseptic solution and as many larvae as possible removed. Insecticidal powders will kill remaining larvae. Grass itch (from mites present in the grass) usually involves the external ear canal and the ear lobe, particularly the small cleft on the outer edge of the ear. The area between the ear and the eye may also be affected. Occasionally the condition may be generalized. The lesions appear as discrete, red, crusted lesions up to 2 centimeters in diameter. Small, bright red to orange-colored mites can be seen in the crust. Itchiness and self-trauma are also evident. Remove the crust and mites from the lesions and apply an insecticidal dust such as 5 per cent carbaryl powder at regular intervals. Keep the grass short in the cat’s environment by regular mowing, particularly in late summer and autumn. Lice infestation occurs around body openings. Lice do not penetrate the skin, but gain moisture by congregating around the bodily orifices (for example, ears, mouth, anus). Infestation can also be generalized. Signs include intense itchiness and a dry, matted, neglected coat with loose hair. Lice can be effectively treated by insecticidal powders.


The most common type of poisoning in the cat is caused by washing it in flea rinses. In these cases a cat salivates profusely and may convulse. First aid measures are to wash the cat thoroughly in copious quantities of clean water to dilute the insecticide remaining on the coat and skin. Prevent the cat from licking the coat and take it to a veterinary surgeon immediately. The causes of poisoning in the dog are also relevant to the cat.


This is an infection of the womb (uterus). It normally occurs after a pregnancy. The queen becomes dull, listless and off her food. She may drink excessively and vomit. There may be a pussy discharge from the vagina. Surgery to remove the puss-filled womb (hysterectomy should be performed urgently.

Respiratory Problems

Respiratory disease in the cat is almost entirely confined to cat flu (feline respiratory disease).

Shaking the Head

Shaking the head usually indicates an irritation in the ear.


Shock can follow severe injury, as from car accidents or snake bites. The cat may not be conscious; its eyes be glassy, staring and vacant; the body may shiver or shake; and breathing may be shallow and irregular. The animal may also vomit and have diarrhea. Firstly, check for serious bleeding and apply artificial respiration as the situation warrants. Keep the cat warm with a blanket, sweater, and water bottle and tilt the head down. Tilt the whole body a head-down position to assist the flow of blood to the Take the animal to a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.

Skin Disorders

Overall incidence of skin disease in the cat, particularly when compared to that in the dog, is relatively 7:1. Probably because of the cat’s fastidious habits of cleanliness. However, when a skin disease is present, the cat’s habits of licking and grooming lead to great difficulties with treatment and therefore delay healing. Sometimes the medication is swallowed, giving rise to side pain as many medications are toxic to the cat. The range substances that can be used with safety in treating skin ceases in the cat is therefore somewhat limited. In general. lotions and tinctures are better accepted than greasy oils and creams

Skin Infections

Allergic skin infections are usually a generalized condition, with intense scratching, biting and licking at the skin. The condition can also be accompanied by diarrhea. It is an allergic response—various foodstuffs such as milk, canned cat food, raw and cooked beef, rabbit, chicken, whale meat and penicillin have been incriminated. The diagnosis of this condition is a veterinary matter.

Snake Bite

Although cats in urban areas are rarely bitten by snakes, it is a problem in the peripheral areas of the city and in rural areas. Snake bite usually appears as two small punctures of the skin. The symptoms include swelling, intense pain, weakness, shortness of breath, vomiting, poor vision and eventual paralysis. Try to keep the cat still by wrapping it in a blanket or coat, as excitement or motion tends to increase the movement of the venom in the bloodstream towards the heart. If the bite is on an extremity, such as a leg, apply a firm bandage to the whole of the leg. This is a constriction band to prevent the venom from flowing towards the heart. The latest information is that the snake bite should not be cut. Get the cat to a veterinary surgeon as soon as possible.


Continuous sneezing is one of the symptoms of feline respiratory disease.


Removing (or destroying) the ovaries of a female.


This can be caused by deficiencies of vitamin E or excesses in vitamin A. Wounds, abscesses or motor vehicle accidents.


This are common in cats. They can be painful and particularly if the cat is allergic. When stung, the animal usually cries out, leaps into the air to escape by climbing the nearest tree or examine the swollen area, and if a sting is visible miaow it with tweezers. Ice packs or cold wet cloths apply all to the swelling will help to reduce the pain and swelling relief, particularly where the bite involves a vein or vital organ. Where the sting is from a venomous insect or the symptoms are similar to snake bite.


Early stages of feline urological syndrome (F.U.S.), aimed swollen area can be felt in the male cat’s abdomen. The cat will have difficulty in urinating and will constantly it penis in an attempt to ease the irritation. The condition worsens rapidly, and if the bladder ruptures death fellow.

Tail Disorders

Reeding Tail Tip

It is usually a consequence of the cat chasing its tail and biting This is an indication for an Elizabethan collar around the cat’s neck so that the tail is inaccessible (the Elizabethan) collar is more frequently used on dogs, to stop them themselves). If the condition occurs often, a quick, permanent solution is to amputate the tail at the base. Amputating the tip of the tail does not stop the problem.

Kinks in the Tail

Kinks in the tail are due to dislocation of the vertebrae in the tail, usually when the cat is immature. Splinting will rectify the problem in many cases.

A Limp Tail

This usually indicates a fracture of the pelvis or the base the tail, or infection from cat bites.

Skin Infections on the Tail

Skin infections can be due to flea dermatitis. In these cases there is hair loss with a pussy superficial sore over the base of the tail, extending down over the first 5-8 centimeters. If it is a very deep infection, it is due to cat bites, the most common site being the first 5 centimeters of the base of the tail. Close examination will reveal one or two holes about 3 millimeters in diameter, surrounded by devitalized skin which has lost its hair. If the area is squeezed, it sometimes releases pus. These wounds should be irrigated three times a day with 50 per cent peroxide and water. The cat also requires antibiotic therapy for at least five days. Failure to use antibiotics can result in gangrene of the tail.

Teeth Disorders

A cat has its full mouth of 30 permanent teeth by seven months of age—the twelve incisors appear at four months, the four canines at four and a half months, and the fourteen molars between six and seven months. For the next couple of years a cat’s teeth are usually trouble free.


A yellow discoloration of the teeth is due to the cat’s mother receiving medication during pregnancy, particularly tetracyclines. Nothing can be done to restore the nor- This kitten is losing the upper molars on both sides: Note the inflamed gums.
Some antibiotics, especially the Tetracyclines, when given during pregnancy can cause yellow enamel on the teeth. mal color of the teeth. Discoloration can also be due to tartar build-up.

Loose teeth

Multiplication of gum tissue and a premature loss of incisor teeth in front is seen in cats on diets that consist mainly of liver or are high in cod-liver oil, or where excess multi-vitamin preparations have been given. The problem is excess vitamin A.


Dental plaque and tartar may start to form from the age of three years. The cause is not fully understood, but it is thought to be associated with a degree of alkalinity or acidity in the saliva. There must also be some predisposing factor in individual cats, since the majority of cats do maintain clean, healthy teeth in their old age. Tartar build-up is seen much more frequently since the introduction of soft, commercial foods. To prevent it, feed the cat dry foods occasionally and obtain some large meaty shank bones from the butcher on which the cat can exercise its teeth and gums. Inspect the cat’s teeth each six months, and if necessary take it to the vet. Very few cats will allow the tartar to be removed, so a general anesthetic is usually required.


Toxoplasmosis is transferable to man. In any given population about 25 per cent of adult humans have been exposed to this infection.
Toxoplasmosis is an intracellular parasite which is neither host specific nor tissue specific. The organism invades the cell, multiplies until the cell ruptures, then moves on to invade a further cell. Toxoplasmosis has been reported in animals and humans throughout the world.
At the onset of the disease in cats. Non-specific signs include lethargy, loss of appetite, weight loss and persistent high fever. This is followed by shortness of breath and acute abdominal disorders, such as vomiting, tenderness. liver enlargement and mild jaundice. As the toxoplasmosis egg has a three-day incubation period, daily disposal of the feces is recommended (wear plastic gloves). The cat excretes infective eggs for about two weeks after it has become infected. Cats should be fed on cooked or sterilized meats to reduce the possibility of contamination. Treatment should be left to the vet.

Urinary Incontinence

This has two major causes: disturbance of nerves supplying the bladder, and severe cystitis.
Disturbance of the nerves supplying the bladder can result from fractures of the back, or dislocation or inflammation of the spinal cord, or damage to the brain. In these cases there is a lack of voluntary urination, with the result that the bladder becomes distended with consequent overflow type dribbling of urine. Bacterial infection of the stagnant urine often occurs, so the condition is usually complicated by bacterial cystitis.
Severe, long-standing cystitis causes replacement of the muscle tissue of the bladder by either fibrous tissue or cancerous elements. This results in the bladder wall becoming hard and inelastic, so that urine overflow is a fairly constant dribble. There is no treatment. Unless the owner is prepared to cope with this problem, the cat should be euthanized.


Excessive vomiting causes a severe fluid deficit together with a loss of electrolytes. Classifying the cause of vomiting is difficult and the following list serves only to emphasize the complexity of the problem.
• Infectious diseases—feline panleucopaenia and hepatitis. Acute abdomen—acute pancreatitis, peritonitis, intestinal obstruction, penetrating wounds and ruptured organs within the body.
• Indigestion, pancreatitis, overeating, spoilt foods, poisons.
• Deformities of the gastrointestinal system.
• Metabolic disorders resulting in retention of by-products (nephritis).
• Drugs—such as digitalis, morphine and certain antibiotics.
• Nervous problems—motion sickness, injuries to the head and nervousness.
• Throat irritations—caused by enlarged tonsils, or by a piece of string with one end caught around the base of the tongue and the other end in the food pipe, stomach or small intestine.
• Bites—from ticks, snakes or spiders.
• Projectile vomiting—caused by increased pressure on the brain, high intestinal obstructions or foreign bodies. If your cat is behaving normally and appears healthy but vomits once a week, this is considered normal and nothing to worry about. Because of the complexity of the vomiting sign, cats with a problem should be taken to a veterinary surgeon for differential diagnosis.


This usually accompanies depression or lethargy and is associated with a generalized infectious process. It can also be associated with poor diet, including vitamin A deficiencies, vitamin B-group deficiencies (particularly thiamine), worm burdens, and weaknesses of the hind legs, including tick paralysis, snake bite, abscesses and infectious processes of the hindquarters.

Weight Loss

The average adult cat weighs about 4 kilograms. It is difficult to assess weight loss if the diet varies, if the animal is overweight to begin with or if previous weight records are unavailable. The two major considerations in weight loss are changes in food consumption and evidence of a disorder of gastrointestinal functions, such as vomiting or diarrhea. The magnitude of the weight loss and the time in which it has taken place are important.
Loss of appetite can occur in such a wide variety of conditions that this sign in itself is not fruitful in reaching a diagnosis of the cause of weight loss. However, decreased absorption of food may occur in pancreatic or liver disease.
Weight loss may accompany general illness, such as feline panleucopaenia, hepatitis, kidney disease or cancer of the alimentary tract. Fever, itself a sign of disease, increases the metabolic requirements of the animal and may result in severe weight loss. Weight loss accompanied by increased urination suggests sugar diabetes, water diabetes or chronic kidney disease. Weight loss may frequently occur without a significant change in food consumption. This suggests hyperactivity or a psychosis, such as extreme nervousness created by a new environment or the introduction of competition, such as a new baby or a new pet into the household.
Weight loss sometimes occurs because of underfeeding. The animal may be receiving large quantities of food but the caloric density of the food and total calories may not be enough to fulfill the animal’s need. An animal’s caloric requirements fluctuate with its activities, the environment. body temperature, environmental and emotional stress and specific conditions such as pregnancy. Diagnosing the cause of weight loss demands a careful investigation of the animal’s diet, how much the animal is fed, how much it eats, its environment and its general health.
The common causes of weight loss in cats are diarrhea, vomiting and kidney disease—the latter usually occurs in the older animal and is accompanied by the cat drinking excessive amounts of water. Parasites such as roundworms, lungworms and tapeworms also cause weight loss..