A Guide to Feline Care, Health and Fitness

Proper feline health care doesn't have to be difficult. Your cat has specific needs that are easy to meet. Proper preventative measures can safeguard your cat's health. Caring for common feline health problems, and paying attention to certain common symptoms of feline illness, can go a long way toward protecting your cat's health and extending his life.

Preventative Health Care For Your Cat

The most important thing you can do for your cat's health is to have a thorough annual veterinary check up. Your vet should examine your cat's body from his head to his tail. He should look at his teeth, take his temperature, listen to his heart and lungs, and look at his eyes, nose, ears or mouth. Your vet should perform a stool examination to determine if your cat has picked up any intestinal parasites.

Your cat should be vaccinated against all common feline diseases, including rabies, feline leukemia, and feline AIDS or FIV. Neutering or spaying your cat can also protect his health; it will keep him from roaming far from home and fighting with other cats.

Keep your cat indoors to protect him from the many dangers of the outside world, including dogs, cars, nasty neighbors and disease. On average, an indoor cat lives about twelve years, while an outdoor cat lives for only about two.

Common Cat Ailments

There are many common ailments that could plague your cat; while these ailments aren't necessariy serious, they could, if left untreated, cause permanent damage to your cat's health. Here are some of them.

Hairballs are a problem for all cats, but they are especially troublesome for longhaired cats. Hairballs occur when your cat swallows his own fur after cleaning himself with his tongue; normally, your cat will vomit up the hairball. In some cases, however, the hairball could grow so big that your cat can't vomit it up, and it could stay in his stomach, causing a GI blockage. Feed your cat a spoonful of mineral oil once a week to help the hairballs pass, and brush him daily, especially if he has long fur.

Ear mites are parasitic mites that live inside your cat's ears. If your cat is scratching his ears excessively, and shaking his head a lot, he could have ear mites. Ear mites usually leave a dark residue inside the ear. They are easily treated with drops, but if left untreated, can cause permanent deafness.

Tapeworms, roundworms and other intestinal worms can cause anemia if left untreated. They are common, and occur when your cat swallows a flea that contains worm eggs. If you see white segments in your cat's stool, see your vet to procure a worm treatment.

Symptoms to Watch For

One element of feline care is knowing which symptoms could indicate serious illness. They include:

  • Excessive thirst and increased urination could be symptoms of diabetes.
  • A break in housetraining, or going outside the box for no apparent reason, could be a symptom of kidney or UTI disorder.
  • Vomiting could be a symptom of serious illness, especially if it continues for more than 24 hours. The same goes for diarrhea and constipation.