Category Archives: Diseases of cats

Herpesvirus for cats…

Yes – cats have their own herpesvirus, just as irritating as the human variety, and liable to flare up with stress just like it does in human sufferers. However cat herpesvirus mostly affects the eyes and respiratory system.
The great majority of cats suffer their first bout with herpesvirus when they are kittens. They get watery eyes, sneeze, snuffle, go off their food for a day or two and look very sad and fluey. Antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and good nursing pull nearly all of them through.
Although most infected cats then become carriers very few have any further trouble with the virus themselves.
A few poor cats go on to develop flu-like signs or various eye diseases whenever they are stressed.
Some just get watery eyes. Painful ulcers on the cornea, the window of the eye, and on the conjunctiva, make other cats very miserable. Occasionally a part of the cornea dies and turns black, or the eye perforates.
Any eye problem is an emergency. If your cat has watery or pussy eyes, is squeezing his eyelids closed, or the eye looks blue, red or black bring him straight in to the surgery.

Permethrin flea products toxic to cats

Flea products containing permethrin are highly toxic to cats.

Products for dogs such as Advantix spot on for fleas and ticks and Permoxin, a spray, contain permethrin.  Do NOT ever apply them to cats.

Cats which groom or sleep with dogs treated with these products in the previous 48 hours can be poisoned also.

Signs of toxicity include: tremors, twitching, drooling, incoordination, convulsions, coma and death. Some cats flick their paws, twitch their ears, or are sensitive to touch or sound. Vomiting and diarrhoea are also common.

Signs start within 1 to 3 hours of ingestion or application but can be delayed up to 12 hours. Effects can last more than 3 days.

More than 500 cases of permethrin poisoning have been reported in Australia. A quarter of these cats died despite treatment.

Flea control in cats

Because of the all the rain over the last 6 months and now the very warm days, fleas are hatching in unprecedented numbers  around Canberra.

Signs of flea infestation:

  • Cats develop an allergy to flea bites. They groom or scratch excessively and develop “miliary” dermatitis.
  • The fleas cause anaemia in kittens and debilitated animals.
  • Cats are infested with tapeworm (Dipylidium caninum) from eating infected fleas during grooming.

Flea control

  • Conquer fleas on your cat with long lasting flea control products (Frontline, Advocate, Revolution, Advantage) applied as a spot on. Flea collars, shampoos and powders kill fleas present on your cat at the time of application but have little residual effect.
  • Remove flea eggs, larvae and pupae from the environment with regular vacuuming of carpets, sofas and beds. Throw away or burn the dust bag to prevent eggs and larvae developing.
  • Professional fumigation controls larvae and pupae.
  • Wash bedding in hot water or replace regularly.
  • Spray garden sheds, cars and favoured outdoor sleeping spots.

Cat fleas hatch from flea pupae in your house in warm, humid conditions. Our carpeted, centrally heated homes are ideal for the year round development of fleas.

After feeding on a cat adult female fleas lay eggs that fall off onto couches, carpets and beds. The microscopic eggs develop first into larvae that migrate deep into carpets, furniture or cracks in floors away from the light, and then into pupae. The pupae contain adult fleas which lie in wait for the next cat or dog to pass.

Effective flea control depends on knowing the flea’s life cycle.

Fight wound infections

Bites from another cat during a fight cause abscesses and infection. Dog, rat and other rodent bites are rare.

Consequences:

Cat bites on the head, forelimbs or at the base of the tail leave lumps that swell and burst. Your cat is lethargic and goes off his food.

When a cat bites its teeth go through the skin leaving small puncture wounds which seal over, trapping bacteria under the skin of the victim.

A pocket of pus forms an abscess. In areas where the skin is tighter, such as on the foot or the tail, the infection spreads through the tissues causing cellulitis.

Rarely more serious consequences such as a septic arthritis (infection of a joi

nt space) or osteomyelitis (infection of bone) result.

Treatment:

  • Antibiotics by injection or mouth stop the spread of infection and development of an abscess.
  • Surgery to drain the pus.

Tooth decay

Plaque and bacteria mineralise on cat’s teeth to form tartar or calculus.

Tartar and red inflamed gums, or gingivitis, loosen teeth.

Holes in teeth at the gumline affect 80% of cats. These so-called neck lesions are intensely painful. Tartar builds on them and rubs the inside of the cheek. The only solution is extraction.

Cats with bad mouths show less interest in food or approach the food bowl eagerly then don’t eat.  They chew cautiously, drop food from the mouth, or swallow with difficulty. Dribbling, blood-tinged saliva, and bad breath are common. In some cases affected cats paw the mouth or shake the head. Reluctance to eat may lead to weight loss.

Many cats show no signs of bad teeth despite being in pain.  However after we clean their teeth they are obviously much happier and relaxed.

A scale and polish under general anæsthesia removes tartar and saves teeth.

Chunks of meat such as gravy beef or chicken thighs encourage chewing and prevent the build-up of plaque and tartar.  Greenies are a palatable treat that clean the teeth as well.  A bowlful of special dental foods such as Royal Canin dental or Hills t/d several times a week also prevent dental disease.  Chewing meat and dental biscuits stimulates the production of saliva, which contains natural antibacterial substances, and scrapes plaque and tartar from the teeth.

Calicivirus vaccination of kittens helps prevent gingivitis.

Bladder worries

Indoor cats  straining to urinate and not producing much but bloody urine have bladder problems. Some exhibit their frustration and pain all over the house.

The urinary passage of male or desexed male cats can block up with crystals and mucous. If your cat is tense and restless then he may have a blockage and you must contact a vet immediately before the bladder bursts.

Stress causes bladder inflammation or cystitis in some cats.

Kidney or bladder infections and bladder stones cause similar signs.

When you come to the vet surgery we examine your cat for urinary blockage and shock. Then we analyse your cat’s urine for infection, crystals and mucous plugs. We might order an X ray or ultrasound to rule out bladder stones.

If we find no sign of blockage, infection or stones then  we conclude that your cat has Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) or Interstitial Cystitis (FIC).

Contributing causes:

No single cause of FIC has been identified. However, several factors have been shown to increase the risk of FIC. These include:

Stress

  • Indoor confinement
  • Dry food
  • Obesity
  • Low water consumption
  • Sedentary lifestyle
  • Frequent meals

How can you prevent further episodes of FIC?

  • Introduce a predominantly wet food diet such as food in sachets or cans, or raw meat. If your cat prefers dry food you may have to introduce the new foods gradually. Add a little of the wet food to the biscuits and gradually increase the amount of wet food. Alternatively sprinkle the biscuits with water and increase the amount of water added over a few weeks until the biscuits are soft and wet.
  • Increase your cat’s water intake. You might try adding more water to the food or offering water flavoured with chicken stock. Some cats like running water. Pet fountains are available in many pet stores. Cats often like drinking water from the shower recess or basin. Provide water in a variety of bowls in different shapes, sizes and textures to identify your cat’s preference. If rain water or filtered water is available your cat may prefer it to tap water.
  • Encourage frequent urination. Provide at least one litter tray per cat plus one more filled with the preferred litter and in private locations.
  • Reduce stress in your cat’s life. Some cats are very sensitive to their environment and may respond to any changes by becoming nervous or fearful and developing problems such as cystitis. A comfortable quiet hideout for resting, such as a cupboard, quiet bed or sofa, or on top of the refrigerator, is essential for all felines. Some nervous individuals may require a refuge in a quiet, sheltered part of the house away from other pets and people, and furnished with the necessities of life.
  • Minimise interaction with other cats for fearful individuals. Check out the Indoor Cat website for signals that your cat is on edge. You may have to provide a feeding point, litter tray and hideout for each cat to minimise the tension.
  • A Feliway diffuser may help to reduce stress in many situations.
  • Enrich your cat’s environment. When we confine our cats indoors they become dependent on us not only for their physical needs and environment but for their emotional and intellectual needs as well. Cat scratching posts, toys that mimic prey, tunnels, outside runs and a variety of high spots and hideouts will keep your cat happy and stimulated. Your company is important. Even an old cat will appreciate a game with a ribbon on a stick or a glittery ball. Make your cat work for food by hiding it in various locations around the house or in food puzzles such as plastic containers with holes cut in the sides. The Indoor Pet website has lots of suggestions.

Arthritis in cats

Changes in jumping behaviour are the most obvious sign of arthritis in cats.

Cats with elbow arthritis are reluctant to jump down and seem to pour themselves off the bed or cupboard.  Because they lose agility and flexibility they land with a thud and stand a moment before moving off.

Cats with arthritic knees are reluctant to jump as high as before.  They use chairs to get onto tables or abandon high resting places altogether.  Painful knees make them hesitate before jumping, scramble rather than jump or even miss the target.  Some cats pull themselves up onto the couch or bed rather than spring up.  Occasionally accidents happen because an old cat is unwilling to climb into the litter tray.

Cats that move stiffly have arthritic backs. Because it is difficult for them to groom their sides and backs their coats look rough or matt into tufts.  Nice cats turn into cranky cats when they are picked up or petted because of the pain.  Many spend the day resting and avoid play altogether.

You can help your arthritic cat. Set up stools or boxes as steps onto favourite resting places.  Encourage gentle play to strengthen muscles by trailing ribbon and batting balls.  Keep bodyweight down to reduce strain on old joints. Most important of all provide a warm, well-cushioned sleeping area.

Diabetes Mellitus

Cats with diabetes mellitus have high blood glucose levels caused by a deficiency of insulin.

Diabetes is commonest in older overweight cats. Male and Burmese cats are more susceptible.

Diabetic cats produce more urine and, to compensate for this, drink more.

Some cats saturate the litter rapidly or urinate outside the tray after being litter trained for years.

They also lose weight despite a ravenous appetite.

How is diabetes mellitus diagnosed?

If you report any of the above your vet will test for high blood glucose and glucose in the urine. Stress can cause a transient rise in glucose levels in cats so your cat may be admitted to hospital for a day for a series of blood glucose tests to confirm the diagnosis. Untreated diabetes eventually causes loss of appetite and lethargy.

How is diabetes mellitus treated?

Cats with diabetes are treated with twice daily  insulin injections.

Diabetic cats require a low carbohydrate diet (unlike diabetic humans or dogs). Specially formulated diets such as Hills m/d are low in carbohydrate and high in protein and ideal for diabetic cats. Many small meals or grazing are fine as long as the cat is not overweight.

Some overweight cats get over diabetes if they lose weight. Stopping drugs such as prednisolone also helps.

What happens if my cat receives too much insulin?

We run regular blood glucose tests (known as blood glucose curves) to see if the insulin dose is correct.

Too much insulin drops the blood glucose dangerously low. Your cat might salivate, shake, walk unsteadily, convulse or faint. This is a hypo and is an emergency.

Rub liquid glucose, sugar solution, honey or icing sugar on the gums of an unconscious cat or syringe it into the mouth of a cat that can swallow. Call your vet as soon as you have done this.

Prevent hypos by double checking the dose of insulin every time you draw it up  and by taking your cat for regular blood glucose curves. Cats often go into remission and don’t need insulin any more. The first sign of remission could be a hypo if we don’t check blood glucose levels often enough.

If your cat is off food or vomiting for more than a day do not give the normal dose of insulin. Call your vet.

You should never change the dose of insulin without first discussing it with your veterinary surgeon.

For more information visit

www.pet-diabetes.com

www.pet-diabetes.com