Does Your Cat Have Loss of Appetite?

December 23, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Diseases, Health

Are you noticing a cat loss of appetite?  If you’re trying to get your cat to diet down and lose a pound or two, a cat loss of appetite may be exactly what you need.  However, if your cat is at the correct weight, and is not eating, this can be an indicator of a serious problem.  It can also be an indicator of something else afoot too.  As the head of the household, it is often my job to figure out what the heck is going on with our four legged animal friends.

If the cat isn’t eating, there could be a serious health problem underlying the cat loss of appetite.  In our house, even the most remote possibility of a problem must be investigated.  By me.  I’m sure you have heard all of the promises that your children make when faced with the possibility of a new pet.  Oh, dad, I’ll take care of it!  I’ll clean up after it!  I’ll wash it, feed it, walk it, and investigate when it has a problem.

I heard it all too.  I still hear it.  The fact of the matter is, when something is broken-pets or other inanimate objects in the house-I am the fixer.  It falls to me.  A cat loss of appetite is no exception.  There are subtle differences to the approach to fixing problems with pets versus problems with inanimate objects, of course.  I use the internet access service in the house.  If there’s a problem, I am affected.  I investigate and fix it.  If there is a cat loss of appetite, I typically am not immediately affected.  Especially if there is a problem with our cat, who apparently does not care to play with me very much first place.  I hear about a problem through my wife, or more likely through one of the kids, distraught at a change in behavior of their favorite plaything.  Cat vomit?  Dad can fix it.  Cat diarrhea?  Call dad.  Cat loss of appetite?  Well, you get the picture.  Dad’s on the case.

I am not knowledgeable about pet care.  I am not terribly knowledgeable about child care either, but both kids seem healthy enough.  Pets can’t be that much harder, can they?  It turns out that the diagnosis of pet health can be a little trickier than the diagnosis of child health.  Pets can’t talk back, can’t describe their symptoms or how they feel.  Our pet cannot tell us why he is having a cat loss of appetite. 

One of the very first diagnostic tricks I learned is to check the Litter Box.  Write that one down.  We have a friend who cares for sick animals at a local shelter.  I turn to her regularly for advice.  The first question out of her mouth is invariably, how does the litter box look?  How does the litter box look in comparison to the food dish?  Is cat loss of appetite caused by my son or daughter feeding the cat without our knowledge?  More often than not, pet health problems in our house are caused by the kids doing something they should not.  Our experience with cat loss of appetite was one of these situations.  Our cat’s tongue tickled our daughter’s hand, so she fed him at every opportunity.  His appetite was the same; he was just eating the wrong foods.

Cat Health Worms

December 20, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Diseases

Cat health worms problems can have some serious implications for your for legged friend.  If your cat is part of the family, then cat health worms can pose not only health problems for your cat, but also both physical and emotional problems for the rest of the family.


Problems with cat health worms split into two divisions-internal worms and external worms.  To the untrained pet owner, like myself, there are no outward telltale signs or indicators of a problem.  Some of these works are communicable, and can cause health problems in humans.  I know I would never want any pet health problems to be transmitted to my kids.  Even if the worm is confined to the cat, like heartworm, the kids will suffer if the cat suffers.  And that’s no good either.


There are four major categories Internal cat health worms.  They are, in alphabetical order, heartworm, hookworm, roundworm, and tapeworm.  If you notice weight loss, dull coat, or diarrhea, these are all indicators of a worm problem.  In the cat, not you.  Although I would personally love to notice weight loss in myself, just not from some kind of worm. 


What are the symptoms to be on the lookout for?  What is an indicator for cat heath worms?  Be on the lookout for vomiting.  This is always a problem, in people and pets.  Heartworm especially, although not as prevalent in cats as dogs, is something that needs to be actively protected against, rather than cured later.  If your cat looks anorexic, and is vomiting, this can be an indicator of really bad news.


Roundworms are another serious type of cat health worms.  Roundworms, fully grown, are about four inches in length, and can be seen in both cat stool and cat vomit.  If kitty looks boated, check the litter box.  Our friend the animal shelter worker swears that checking the litter box should always be the first step in any diagnosis of pet health problems.  Roundworms live in the intestines, and you will actually be able to see them in the stool. 


Hookworms are yet another example of cat health worms.  Hookworms also live in the intestines, and feed off of your cat’s blood.  Kitty can actually become anemic from Hookworms.  Kitty, usually.  Not cat.  Hookworms tend to cause problems only for young cats.  Older cats are generally immune.  Another common worm is the tapeworm, also available in human form.  Tapewoms live in the intestines with hookworms and roundworms.  Cats with tapeworms become lethargic and weak.  They may experience weight loss.  Tapeworms can be seen not in the litter box, but may be seen around the cat’s anus, and appear like little flecks or specks of rice.  And you thought checking the litter box was bad. 


The best thing to do for intestinal cat health worms is treat the cat ahead of time.  If one untreated cat has worms, chances are the rest of the untreated cats will get worms too.  What can be worse than a sick cat?  A bunch of sick cats, Cat health worms can have very serious side effects, and even lead to death.  That would be bad for the cat, obviously, but it would be bad for my family too.  Fortunately, remedies are easy and inexpensive.  

Cat Fleas Can be Annoying for Humans Too…

December 18, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Health

Are cats fleas a problem in your house?  Have you had a problem with cats fleas?  How did you first discover the problem?  Are you still battling the fleas, or are they under control?  Does even reading this make you itch?


Cats fleas can be difficult to detect.  They’re not very big.  Keep an eye on your cat.  Is he or she scratching more than normal?  This can be tough to judge, especially if you are not the one who is around the cat very much.  I am not the cat’s favorite person in my house, so I am often left relying on the observations and judgments of our cat experts-my eight year old son and five year old daughter.


Aside from a scratching cat, what are some other symptoms of cats fleas?  The second major indicator, and the one that tipped us off to a problem in our house, was insect bites around the ankles of both of our kids. 


Our kids love our cat, and they play with him all the time.  They also end up causing some very strange problems with our cat, Roary, usually by feeding him the wrong things, or overfeeding him, or conducting some other scientific experiment on him.  Sure they love Roary, and Roary loves them, but they have caused Roary some heartache and health problems.  Maybe cats fleas were Roary’s way of evening the score?


We never had a problem with dogs fleas.  I suppose I should stop here and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for that.  We have a friend who works at an animal shelter.  She is remarkable when it comes to diagnosing what ails our four-legged friends.  She has been able to figure out, every single time, what our problem was.  Usually, as mentioned above, it’s caused by our kids.  However, I don’t think our kids gave Roary cats fleas. 


Our friend from the animal shelter, Sara, came over, and immediately checked the litter box.  This is the first step in every diagnosis she does.  She talks with us about changes in eating habits, and in play habits.  She knows we have young kids, and that the kids are often the source of Roary’s troubles.  Not intentionally, mind you, but sources of trouble nonetheless.  Even though we strongly suspected cats fleas, our friend was committed to a thorough diagnosis. 


She brought over some big sheets of white paper, and a very fine toothed comb.  The idea was to carefully comb Roary over the paper and see what came out.  Sara explained that regular grooming usually didn’t expose the presence of cats fleas.  However, careful combing over the paper would reveal the presence of flea dirt, or the excrement the fleas left behind. 


This cats fleas excrement is usually, according to Sarah, undigested cat blood.  Still with me?  Cats should come with a warning label, telling potential owners all of the disgusting, litter box examining things that can happen.  Instead, it’s all fluff and cuteness.  Before you know it  the family is hooked, and there’s no turning back.  Cats fleas can be fixed, once diagnosed.  We’ll do everything we can to preserve the family pet!

Cat Toys- a Perfect Treatment for Boredom?

December 16, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Behavior

Considering cat toys as gifts this holiday season?  They make great gifts for people, but I’m not convinced about the cats.  In our household, I am convinced that our cat, Roary, views each member of the family as his own personal plaything.  We are all his cat toys.


Ok, truth be told we are all not his cat toys.  I am not a cat toy.  Roary loves my wife.  He plays with her.  Roary loves my eight year old son.  He plays with him.  Roary loves my five year old daughter.  He plays with her.  Roary even plays with the dog.  He stares with the fish, and I think he would like to play with them.  He does not play with me, though.


Roary does not like me.  I have yet to understand why.  I put a roof over his head.  My kids even appreciate that.  I provide food.  I figure out what’s wrong with him when he’s sick.  Ok, I don’t do that all by myself.  I have help from a family friend.  Her diagnostic process invariably includes a close examination of the litter box.  And I don’t even get so much as a purr from him.  No, I am not one of his favorite cat toys.  It bothers me more than him.


He doesn’t care much for me, but he does like my stuff.  Apparently I have a wide variety of cat toys for our dear furry beast to choose from.  He loves to do terrible things to my shoe laces.  I think he knows when I’m in a hurry, or when I need my shoes to be in great condition.  That’s usually when I find the laces about half destroyed.  Not the shoes, just the laces, just bad enough that I have to change them before I wear the shoes. 


There are other items of mine that he’s turned into cat toys.  He climbed into my insulated lunch pail, and “played” with it from the inside out.  By “played” with, I mean of course, that he shredded it from the inside out.  I didn’t notice it until I started to make my lunch for the next day.  He ate some of it, so we got to spend more quality time with the litter box after that little incident.


Another favorite one of his cat toys is my ring of car keys.  This one I just plain do not get.  They’re metal.  It can’t feel good to chew on them.  He’s much more likely to chip a tooth, which will show itself as some kind of bad breath, or bleeding gums that will scare the crap out of the kids and make them demand that he be treated by a vet that charges more than a people doctor.


So, what type of cat toys can I get for dear Roary?  What will keep him from exacting revenge on me for some as yet unspecified wrong that I must have done him in a previous life?  Or, what can I do to get him to quit using my things as cat toys?

Is Your Cat Coughing?

December 14, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Health

Cat cough got you down?  With all the other things you have to worry about, all the other problems you have to deal with, now it’s cat cough?  Why not, it can only add insult to injury.


When my kids,  especially my son, coughs a lot before he goes to bed, it’s a precursor of a condition likely to manifest itself later in the night.  To which, he vomits.  Once we get him cleaned up, he goes back to sleep as if nothing happened.  It can’t be comfortable, and it’s annoying.  He is a special case, no doubt, but with cat cough, my son’s experience jumps to the front of my mind.


As with any change in behavior, or any new symptoms that any of our pets experience (with the possible exception of the fish), I am the point person.  Our kids, a boy eight years old and a girl five years old, adore the dog and the cat.  Not enough to take care of them-bathe them, walk them, clean up after them-but definitely enough to make life miserable for dear old Dad should something like cat cough befall our ever-faithful Roary.


Roary coughed, but fortunately didn’t do much more than that.  The children didn’t notice any additional symptoms.  Roary was his same, cheerful, playful self.  Except with me, of course the one person in the family that footed the bill for the varmint! And, now, it seemed, the one person who would end up footing the bill for Roary’s cat cough.


For reasons known only to Roary, he shows absolutely no love or affection for me, the person who is responsible for putting a roof over his head, providing food for his dish, and making sure his litterbox gets changed.  I know those are all supposed to be jobs for the kids, except maybe for keeping a roof over his head, but the fact is that when things get messy or dirty, they scatter.  I’m the one left to clean up the mess.


Cat cough is one of those messes.  We cannot let Roary just suffer.  What if he has an incurable cat disease, like tuberculosis or a ruptured spleen?  Rather than rush to the vet, and spend a small fortune that I have yet to earn, I rely on a family friend.  She works at a local animal shelter, taking in stray fogs and cats, and often nursing them back to health.  If anyone could know what was wrong, it would be her.


The first step in the diagnosis of cat cough, or apparently any animal problem, is to look at the stool.  I generally try to spend as little time as possible with Roary’s litter box, but if it means saving his life, and keeping the kids happy, I’m willing to invest the time.  Litter box checks out ok.  Food consumption is normal.  Kids aren’t’ feeding Roary something he shouldn’t have (that’s our usual problem).


Our friend’s examination of the cat revealed something fascinating.  Roary smelled very pleasant,  abnormally pleasant, for a cat.  A bit like a five year old girl might smell if she were playing with kiddie perfume.


Our cat cough cleared up right away after we stopped both of our kids from spraying him down with cheap perfume.  In addition to tuberculosis, a ruptured spleen, and brain cancer, cat cough can also be a strong indicator of kids who just plain don’t listen well.  And I’m the one that Roary avoids!

Cats Can Suffer With Diarrhea Too

December 11, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Health

You searched to find an article on cat loose stool, right?  You really want to read more about cat loose stool, right?  If you’re here on purpose,  great.  If you’d rather watch football and enjoy a sandwich, now is the time to leave.


We are a family of four humans, and a few extraneous animals.  Fortunately our fish do not present the same types of challenges that our furry pets do.  Of course, the fish aren’t as cuddly either.  I suppose it’s a fair trade.  Nobody notices fish loose stool.  Cat loose stool, and dog loose stool, is an entirely different, and far less pleasant, matter entirely. 


As a quick side note, I personally would rather watch football and enjoy a sandwich.  And maybe even wash it down with a beer or two. Unfortunately, the typical kid promise to take care of pets is ignored, or forgotten, in my house.  Our children, ages eight and five, are great at petting and playing.  They are also great at discovering, and often causing, problems with our pets.  They’re not so great at solving pet problems.  That’s where we (a euphemism for me all by myself) come in.  Cat loose stool is no exception to this well established rule. 


Speaking for myself, loose stool is usually an indication of a problem somewhere.  My brother in law points out that most of us take a quick peek at what we’ve left behind as a quick diagnostic of our own personal health.  Often, if we do see a problem, we can attribute it to some recent change in behavior. 


Are you still with me?  Still want to learn more about our experience with cat loose stool?  Of course you do.  Who wouldn’t? 


So, why should I care about cat loose stool?  Wouldn’t I be better off without that cat?  Hasn’t it caused me enough trouble already?  Think of the money I’d save without that little beast running around, between food and cat litter.  Then, think about how the kids would feel if something happened to Roary, especially if it was something that could be avoided. 


I turned to a friend of the family.  Sara works at a local animal shelter, and has seen dogs, cats, and the occasional ferret in much worse shape than Roary.  Apparently, Sara’s first step in any diagnosis is to check the litter box.  In this case, the evidence was, well, evident.  Did I mention cat loose stool? 


Sarah, bless her heart, did a quick diagnosis.  Overall, Roary was in good health.  While she performed the examination, she outlined that the most common cause of cat loose stool was a change in diet.  Just like me!  Were we feeding him anything different?  I wasn’t, of course, but what about the kids?  You’d think I would recognize the cause, after several other issues with Roary and feeding him things that he wasn’t really supposed to have.  Sure enough, when I confronted the kids, I confirmed that not only my daughter but my son too had been conducting “science experiments” on what Roary would eat and would not eat.   Cat loose stool problem solved,  a blow for science, to be sure.  Now, where’s that sandwich?

Why Do Cats Have Bad Breath?

December 09, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Health

Cat bad breath got you down?  I know it gets me down.  It’s hard sometimes to figure out which is worse-cat bad breath, dog bad breath, or kid bad breath.  I am very happy that I don’t have to include fish bad breath in the mix.


Dog bad breath isn’t too much of a mystery.  It is also not entirely unexpected either.  Fortunately, it’s also not that difficult a problem to overcome.  A dog treat here and there, or an occasional brushing of the teeth tends to do the job.


Cat bad breath?  For me at least, that’s another story entirely.  What causes it?  How can I fix it?  How can I keep it from coming back again?  Why is my wife not trying to solve this problem?  Is this cat bad breath because my daughter fed our cat something she shouldn’t have?  Why will these kids not pick up their toys?  I guess that’s a topic for another day.  Let’s stick with the cat.


Our cat’s name is Roary.  For a while we had an experience with cat bad breath in our house.  I don’t play with the cat too much.  Maybe Roary is a good judge of character?  To me, his breath was not that much of a problem.  Neither my son, eight years old, and my daughter, five years old, seemed very concerned about Roary’s breath.  My wife, however, was not pleased.


An unhappy wife makes for an unhappy husband.


My wife convinced me that cat bad breath could be an indicator of a much more serious condition.  We had already solved the Mystery of the Lethargic Kitty (my daughter was stuffing the poor animal behind our backs, because his tongue tickled her hand).  Did we have a new mystery on our hands?  And again, why is this my problem?


We (that’s a euphemism for me) talked to a friend of ours.  Sara works at a local animal shelter.  Compared to us, she is a genius in animal care.  The way some of those animals come into the shelter is just absolutely amazing.  She helps to nurse them back to health.  We (again, a euphemism) turn to her, often with a sad, helpless face, to figure out exactly what we need to do to keep our pets alive.  She is gifted, and tolerant of my most ignorant questions.


Sara confirmed that cat bad breath can be an indicator of a more serious condition, such as lung disease, kidney disease, lacerations or ulcerations of the gums, hairballs stuck in the throat, or some other foreign object lodged in poor Roary’s mouth. 


Sara’s first step in any diagnosis is invariably to check the litter box and the food dish.  Compare the volume of input to the volume of output, and observe any abnormalities left behind.  Roary seemed to be processing normally.  Next, we (this time Sara was there, so it wasn’t just me by myself) examined Roary’s mouth.  Nothing was swollen, cut, or missing.  There were no extraneous items that didn’t belong there.  Roary was behaving normally-still playing with the family (except me, of course).


The bottom line?  Roary had just a plain old case of cat bad breath.  I put my foot down, and mandated that my son take on the job of brushing Roary’s teeth once a week.  As long as he sticks to it, cat bad breath is a thing of the past in our house.  Mystery solved!

Good Feline Health For Your Cat…

December 05, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Health

Feline health is a front burner concern for all cat owners.  It’s critical for the health of your furry friends, but it’s also critical for the other human members of your family.  Feline health has a significant impact on how your feline plays and interacts with the rest of the family-especially when the family includes children.


Our cat, Roary, is young.  Our kids are young.  This usually makes for a very playful and entertaining combination.  Our first indication that something is amiss with Roary is often through his interaction with the kids.  For us, our cat’s health is critical not just for the sake of having a healthy pet, but also to make sure that the kids have fun and are not in any danger.


My wife and I are not pet experts by any stretch of the imagination.  Our kids are young.  They are learning how to help care for Roary, but even still we often have to refer to a professional.  We are fortunate to have a good friend of the family who works at an animal shelter.  She helps us diagnose and troubleshoot problems that may be indicators of a change in feline health, and helps us understand how Roary’s health can impact his play with our kids. 


The price is right too-a shared bottle of wine is often sufficient payment for a quick conversation about canine or feline health.


Don’t get me wrong-we’re not pet hypochondriacs in our household.  Feline health in our household in general seems to be good.  We have had a few incidents though that gave us some concern.  For a few weeks, Roary slowed down.  He was less interested in playing, and even more interested in sleeping than normal.  His appetite, as indicated by the food he was able to help himself to, seemed to be way off of what we expected it to be.  Roary wasn’t eating nearly as much as we thought he should.  He was eating less than he had been eating prior to us noticing this change. 


We turned to our friend to help us figure out what was impacting feline health.  What was wrong with our Roary?  The first thing our friend Sara suggested was monitoring the litter box.  Was Roary’s output falling with his input?  Was it the same?  Increasing? 


As a quick side note, it turns out that stool is a great indicator of not only feline health, but the health of any creature.  My brother in law points out that most of us take a quick peek at what we’ve left behind as a quick diagnostic of our own personal health.  But I digress.


Roary was as even more productive than before, but eating less of what my wife and I were feeding him.  That was the critical link to out diagnosis of feline health.  We did not have to revert to hidden cameras, but we were able to discover that my daughter, age four at the time, was sneaking food to Roary.  Why?  Because his tongue tickled her hand.  We explained that this was bad for him, so she did stop.  Now we’re trying to convince the kids that picking up their toys is just as important to feline health.

Constipation Killed the Cat

December 03, 2008 :: Posted by - kittyluver :: Category - Health

Just as with Humans, cats can be susceptible to constipation. It’s actually quite common in cats, and can become a problem as they reach older years (after around 8 years). If you have a constipated cat, it probably has symptoms such as: infrequent or no bowel movements, a significantly smaller amount of stool, or increased strains as it is trying to defecate. Your cat has healthy bowel movements if it can go at least once or twice a day. There is however, no exact rule on how much your cat should be going a day.


Some warning signs that your cat may be dealing with constipation is as follows: Repetitive trips to their litter box, painful poops, hard times defecating, Crying and licking of anal area. In some cases, these can be misleading, as your cat may have a urinary obstruction instead. Always consult your cat’s veterinarian, as a urinary obstruction is an emergency, especially in a male cat.


Constipation affects the gastrointestinal tract in both humans and cats. It is not a disease, but it left unattended, your Constipated cat could develop a serious life-threatening condition. If you feel that your cats bowel movements are irregular or you haven’t noticed any bowel movements in a couple of days, you should probably talk to your cat’s veterinarian.


The symptoms your constipated cat may face worsen as time progresses. The cat may become lethargic, lose its appetite, hunch and crouch because of discomfort in the abdominal area, and even vomit. In some cases, your Constipated cat could even pass a tiny amount of bloody diarrhea.


In most cases, treatment for this symptom involves either managing a dose of medication for your cat, or removing the cause of the constipation. Relieving your constipated cat can involve the use of glycern and enemas, to produce induced defecations. In some cases though, your cat may need manual removal of the feces.Some people choose to use supplementary fiber for their constipated cat (psyllium, bran). Some cats may eat this, while others won’t. Another approach is the use of prescription medications propulcid and lactulose, these medications both soften the stool, and helps the defecation process.


In some cases, medical management could have no effect on your Constipated Cat. The next approach would then be surgery. Surgery is highly successful, and most cats have a very normal life afterwards. The major surgery involves the removal of a lot, if not most of the colon, with the remaining ends being reconnected. This will then allow your cat to defecate properly. The only downfall to this procedure is the risk that leakage could occur were the ends of the colon were rejoined. This is life-threatening, as it causes an infection within the abdominal cavity. Small complications just like in human surgery, can occur after surgery is done on your cat, but usually there is only a small risk of this. For most cats the surgery is completely successful. 


If you are concerned that you may have a constipated cat, you should first consult your cats veterinarian. A couple of things you can do while waiting for the symptoms to clear up is making sure that your cats hydrated, and feeding it high fiber meals, just like you would if you had a constipation problem.