Showing posts with label home diagnosis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label home diagnosis. Show all posts

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Are these the 7 signs that a domestic cat is sick??

The New York Post has an article titled, "The 7 ways cats say they are sick: vets reveal the signs humans shouldn't miss".

To cut to the chase, they say that researchers found that the following seven behaviours may indicate a sick kitty:
  • spraying
  • frantic licking
  • not using the litter box
  • self-mutilation
  • attacking legs and feet
  • chewing on objects and growling or hissing when petted
I think the above list is wrong. I think it's plain and simple wrong. But not all of it. I'll tell you why. And then I'll tell you what I think the signs are of a sick cat.

Spraying is not the sign of a sick cat. It is the sign of a cat that wants to protect their territory against invading cats. It's a way of marking territory through odour. Fit and healthy cats do this. It may be a sign that the cat is stressed because they are trying to defend their territory inside the home or in the backyard whatever but it is not per se a sign of an ill cat.

Not using the litter box has many causes. It might simply be that the cat doesn't like the particular substrate in the litter box. That's a typical reason. Or they might have sore feet because of declawing. That would be a health problem admittedly. The first reason would not be a health problem but simply a domestic cat preference. You can't say that not using the litter box is a good sign of  cat ill-health. It simply isn't.

Frantic licking, is also not necessarily a sign of a sick cat. It may indicate that the cat has an allergy which makes their skin itchy and therefore they are licking their skin to alleviate the itch. It may indicate that the cat is stressed as they over-groom themselves in areas which are easily accessible as this calms down. This is not a sign that a cat is ill necessarily but it may be (allergy)

Self-mutilation can come about by over-grooming because it means all the fur can be removed from their belly. That's a form of self-mutilation. Another form might be to scratch their ears because the ear canals contain ear mites. Ear mites are incredibly distressing because they are very itchy. So, yes, self-mutilation can be indicative of a specific illnesses most likely an infestation of an ectoparasite or an allergy, perhaps an environmental allergy, food allergy or a flea allergy as these are the three most typical.

If a cat is attacking their legs or feet, this may be a sign that they are feeling pain in their appendages. Once again you could say that this is a sign that the cat has a specific health issue.

Chewing on objects may be a sign of poor oral health but that would hurt the cat if they'd chewed on an object. This is not a sign of ill-health for me. It is perhaps more a sign of predatory behaviour.

Growling and hissing when petted would indicate that the cat has an internal problem causing sensitivity in an internal organ. When they are petted it hurts them. They growl in response and hiss to deter the petting. 

I would agree, therefore, that growling or hissing might be indicative of a health problem. But they can also be indicative of a cat who wants to tell their owner to go away because they want to protect their food - a prey animal that they have brought in from outside which their human caretaker who wants to take from them.

The more common signs of an ill cat would be persistent vomiting, lethargy, quietness and stillness and hiding in a quiet place because they feel more vulnerable and therefore need to protect themselves. A change in their routines would indicate ill health. A change in their behaviour would be the same thing. This requires the owner to be observant and familiar with their cat's normal routine behaviours. This is the best sign and will encompass hiding and being lethargic and disinterested in food which would be another sign of ill health (anorexia). Disinterest in food means feeling ill and/or very poor oral health as it hurts to eat.


P.S. please forgive the occasional typo. These articles are written at breakneck speed using Dragon Dictate. I have to prepare them in around 20 mins.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

You can't check your cat's poop without difficulty if she is an indoor/outdoor cat

This is an aspect of looking after an indoor/outdoor cat which genuinely concerns me. Indoor/outdoor cats go to the toilet outside. Normally you never see it happen. I don't see my cat going to the toilet. I sort of know when he is gone to the toilet because he does it at a similar time each day and I can smell actually that he has just been but I don't know where and I don't see his poop.

And to be perfectly honest I am failing my cat in this respect because at a very simple level it is useful for a cat caregiver to check their cat's poop from time to time. It is a good diagnostic tool. And of course, if your cat is an indoor cat, you will be looking at your cat's poop every day when you clean out the litter tray. It's an automatic, quick check on your cat's digestive system and general health.

A lot of illnesses result in diarrhoea. Diarrhoea, as you no doubt know, is not a disease but a symptom. A common cause is overfeeding because the colon cannot deal with the quantity of food provided.

Food in the small intestine takes about eight hours to get to the colon. The bulk of the food is absorbed at this stage. 80% of water is absorbed in the small bowel. The colon concentrates and stores the waste and at the end of the process a well-formed stool is evacuated containing no mucous, blood or undigested food.

But if the food passes through the intestinal tract rapidly it is incompletely digested and arrives at the rectum in a liquid state. This is diarrhoea. And the transit time down the gastrointestinal tract can be speeded up because the cat has eaten some irritating substances including (this is not a complete list):

  • Dead birds, rodents and other dead animals; 
  • decaying food and garbage;
  • foods that are too rich, salts, spices and fat;
  • indigestible items such as plastic, paper, cloth et cetera;
  • intestine or parasites (endoparasites).

Although it can happen, it is uncommon for a cat to have diarrhoea from eating toxic substances. This is because cats are quite careful about what they eat and they tend to eat slowly. But sometimes toxic substances can be ingested when their cat grooms themselves and clean their feet. These toxic substances can be toxic to the stomach and cause vomiting and diarrhoea. The substances include, for example:

  • Tar derivatives, oil, kerosene gasoline;
  • refrigerants and cleaning fluids;
  • toilet bowl cleaner inserts, bleaches, insecticide;
  • mushrooms, ornamental plants and wild plants;
  • and building materials such as paints, lime and cement.

Some adult cats and kittens are unable to digest milk and milk byproducts. This is because they are lactose intolerant. Most domestic cats are lactose intolerant because they lack adequate amounts of the enzyme lactase. It causes diarrhea and for kittens it can be very serious because it dehydrates and ultimately it can kill kittens if the problem is left unaddressed.

Finally, some cats experience emotional diarrhoea when they are excited or stressed. If you want to narrow the search for the cause of the diarrhoea you begin by examining the colour, frequency of stools and the odour and consistency.

It is notable that veterinarians suggest that you bring to a veterinary clinic appointment a sample of your cat's stool as it will be useful to your veterinarian in diagnosing illness

Analysing diarrhoea, although it sounds horrible, is a very good way to diagnose the where it has happened in the intestines such as rapid transit or a bacterial infection or malabsorption and then from that you may be able to get a handle on the underlying cause.

  1. For example, if there are several small stools in an hour with straining the likely location is the colon and the likely cause is colitis according to my veterinary handbook.
  2. If, in another example, the diarrhoea is putrid, the likely location where this happens is the small bowel and the likely cause is an intestinal infection with bleeding.
  3. In a third example, if the colour and appearance of the stool is soft and bulky, the location where this occurs is a small bowel (rapid transit) and the likely cause is due to overfeeding or poor-quality diet, high in fibre.

My suggestion if you want to take me up on this would be to occasionally place a litter tray in the home or outside the home with fresh litter substrate in the tray to encourage your cat to use it at which time you will be able to check on their poop.

Of course, you can make an outdoor toilet with sand or some other suitable substance but there's no guarantee that your cat will use it and they might have a variety of locations where they go to the toilet of which you are unaware. 

It is very convenient for the caregiver if their cat goes to the toilet outside. Perhaps it is too convenient because you tend to accept it and forget about the advantages of cleaning the litter tray. That's sounds extraordinary but there are advantages in terms of monitoring your cat's health.

Wednesday 19 July 2023

How to take your cat's pulse and what the result might mean

The normal pulse rate of a cat is 150-240 bpm. To take your cat's pulse, grasp the chest just behind the elbows with one hand while supporting the cat with the other. Move your hand until you detect a heartbeat. Count the number of beats in 20 seconds, and multiply that number by three. For example, 50 beats in 20 seconds would be 150 bpm.

You can also take a cat's pulse by feeling for the heartbeat on the inside of the back leg where it joins the body. Use the above beat count.

Note: I am not a veterinarian but I do have a lot of experience and knowledge about cats and their health.

High metabolism - shorter life

As you can see, the domestic cat's heart rate is much higher than that of humans which is one reason why they have a shorter lifespan than humans. There is a link between heart rate and survival which is down to metabolic rate which is greater in small animals and which is directly associated with heart rate.

Fast beat

A high heartbeat rate which would be over 220 bpm may be accompanied by other symptoms such as coughing, fainting, weakness, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhoea, vomiting, increased urination, excessive thirst, nervous behaviour, sudden aggressive behaviour, shallow breathing, high blood pressure, unkempt coat, pale mucous membranes and/or intolerance to activity.

Possible causes of an increased heart rate might include cardiac arrhythmia, hyperthyroidism or congestive heart failure.

Slow beat

A heartbeat of less than 120 bpm can be considered to be bradycardia. Conditions and situations which might result in a slow heart rate would be nobody temperature (hypothermia), low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), sedative medications or terminal feline infectious peritonitis.

Tuesday 4 April 2023

Female cat of 14 years keeps wetting herself when she sleeps. Cause?

Matsa has urinary incontinence when sleeping. Image: Reddit. com.

'My elderly lady of 14 years keeps wetting herself when she sleeps. Is this common in older cats or should I take her to the vet ASAP?' The person is asking the question on social media. I don't really like that. But anyway, I answered the question as follows:
"The age may be significant. My top-quality vet book states: "Geriatric cats may lose some or all of their control over urination and leak, especially when sleeping."

That seems to cover your cat's problem but it could be something else as the guys below have mentions such as FLUTD. Normally urinary incontinence is caused by a neurological problem or a recurring urinary obstruction causing a distended bladder.

But the fact that it happens when the age indicates an old age problem. I guess malfunctioning anatomy due to age. Last point. Your cat is obese - no criticism intended but obesity is a risk factor for urinary incontinence. Diabetes? Kidney problems? 
The source for that response is: Cat Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook Third Edition. It is a great book. Very comprehensive and very readable.  But no substitute for seeing a vet in a timely manner.

Also, I noticed the cat is obese and queried it. Obesity causes all kinds of health problems. Especially in old cats. Obesity in old cats is likely for shorten their lifespan.

I expect this to be a rare problem. There may not be a lot the owner can do to improve things if it is due to old age and the only way to find out is to take the cat to the vet as soon as is convenient.

I sense that age and obesity are behind this problem.

Saturday 21 January 2023

Female cat with CKD and hyperthyroidism is vomiting a lot. What's going on?

A person on social media asked for some advice because their cat is vomiting and they are suffering from chronic kidney disease and hyperthyroidism. They are seeing a veterinarian but they wanted to bounce the problem off other social media users one of whom is me. Of course, I strongly advocate seeing a veterinarian and this person has seen a veterinarian about the recent developments and will see them again.

Female cat with CKD and hyperthyroidism is vomiting a lot. What's going on?
Image: MikeB

This is my brief response:

"I am not a veterinarian but I know cats very well. Your cat has chronic kidney disease. She is vomiting. Is there a link between chronic kidney disease and vomiting? That is the question that comes to my mind.

There is a connection. Signs of uraemia which is toxins in the blood because they are not being eliminated by the kidneys, can result in vomiting, diarrhoea and anaemia.

There are other symptoms. So, it's just possible that the chronic kidney disease may have advanced more than is believed.

That said, the vomiting might not be linked to the kidney disease. Domestic cats vomit very well and competently for a large number of reasons and those reasons might not be associated with her chronic illness.

Has the vet done a urine test for blood urea nitrogen (BUN) and creatinine? I would ask the vet about that asap. 

I don't think vomiting is linked to hyperthyroidism. Hope this helps a bit and the best of luck."

Do any readers of this post have any other thoughts out of interest? 

Tuesday 6 December 2022

90% of bald cat bellies are caused by this

 This about the reason for a healthy cat having a bald belly. It is common sense really.

Classic example of a bald belly caused by overgrooming
Classic example of a bald belly caused by overgrooming. Image: Reddit user: u/Kimimyu
90% of cases of baldness on the belly are due to overgrooming by the cat themselves. It is called 'barbering' as it is as if the cat has gone to the barbers for a No. 1. Self-grooming is a pleasant experience for a domestic cat and the belly is easily accessible. 

It helps to counteract the negative emotions caused by stress. Therefore, the cause is stress. What has caused the stress? It is down to the owner to understand how and when cats can be stressed and eliminate those causes. The link below goes to pages on how stress can be caused:

Cat stress

That is about it. Or at least that is the first thing that the cat's owner should do to stop barbering. If there is no apparent stress, I'd watch the cat and look for overgrooming. No overgrooming? Look for ill health. But this cat looks healthy, and the owner does not report signs of ill-health.

If in doubt, see a vet. The usual common-sense mantra.

How do I know the 90% figure? Dr Bruce Fogle told me. He is the best-known vet in the UK and a brilliant author as well. I highly recommend his book Complete Cat Care available on Amazon.

Some causes of stress

Some more to fill out the page.  There are many causes of stress in a household in which there are domestic cats. One of them is problems within the multi-cat household. Don't think that if you adopt a new cat to be a friend of a resident cat that it will automatically work out well. In fact, it is more likely that it won't.

The problem is this: domestic cats in following their wild cat ancestor, are territorial. They want a home range and for cats living indoors full-time, that home range is much, much smaller than it would normally be if they were living outside.

Domestic cats protect their home range from invading cats. Both these factors contribute to the potential for arguments between a resident cat who settled in their home range and the invading cat i.e., the newly adopted cat entering their home range without the resident cat's consent!

And don't forget that resident cats will look upon their home range as a place where there are resources. Resources such as food, comfort, protection, warmth and security.

Anything or anybody which jeopardises or threatens those resources causes stress.

A new baby coming into the home can also be a source of stress and the same goes for a stranger coming to live in the home.

But of all these possibilities, which by the way would include moving home, an incoming new cat is the greatest source of stress to a resident cat.

A problem here is that cats are inscrutable. They have limited facial expressions. They don't give much away in the look in their eyes. They will convey their feelings through their actions such as increased marking of their territory which as you know mean spraying urine normally and scratching furniture. 

They might leave faeces unburied and, as mentioned in the article above, they might overgroom to relieve stress. Perhaps over-grooming is the best giveaway that a domestic cat is stressed.

Other signs of stress would be excessive vocalising, eating too much, not eating enough and possibly idiopathic cystitis which is a bladder infection which occurs without any obvious reason.

The cure for domestic cat's stress is to look for the underlying cause through analysis of their behaviour and of their environment and then eliminating it.


People like Jackson Guy, rightly state that if you adopt two siblings, that get on well from a rescue centre, it is better than adopting a single individual cat. However, siblings don't always get along. They might be very friendly when they are kittens, but their relationship may cool, and brothers and sisters may end up hating living with each other. More potential stress.

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