What Your Cat May Be Hiding From You

Written By Dr. Gary Holfinger

One thing all cat lovers know – the feline species is mystical and secretive, and pet cats rarely share their problems. It’s well recognized in veterinary medicine that cats hide their illnesses, often to the point of becoming very ill with little outward signs. It creates a problem for owners to keep their pets healthy and free from debilitating disease. Here’s a few ways to know if there’s something bad starting:

• Healthy cats maintain a clean and shiny coat. While hair loss is constant (and often a nuisance), we shouldn’t see matted or dry/lifeless hair coats. Healthy cats continually groom themselves; ill animals often let their coat deteriorate.

• Healthy cats move around a lot. While pet cats are known for sleeping, they have no difficulty jumping up on furniture, or looking out the windowsill. Arthritic cats will hesitate before jumping, or refuse to try. Anemic cats will seem tired and reluctant to move.

• Pale gums can be an indicator of multiple problems, none of them good.

• Cats are prone to tooth cavities that are subgingival (just under the gum line). Often a tooth will look solid but the roots will be eaten away. Mouth sensitivity is a signal here. Cats who go to food but seem reluctant to eat may be having mouth pain without any exterior signs.

• Pet cats concentrate their urine more than dogs or humans, so their water intake is often less than what we expect. A thirsty cat is not typical, and is a good signal of metabolic disease, such as liver, kidney, or sugar problems. It pays to monitor the water bowl to see if you are filling it more than you used to do.

If caught early, many debilitating diseases can be corrected or alleviated. While cats don’t like to share their discomfort, a wise owner will watch for these simple signs. If noted, it’s time to have your pet evaluated.

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