Greetings, two-legged readers! Lucinda the literate cat, reporting for duty. My CCL (Cantankerous Cat Lady) has given me a writing assignment that is a little different from my ordinary jobs.
She has given me an article to read by Dr. Phil Zeltzman, DVM, DACVS, CVJ, and has asked me to give my views on the article. If you’d like to read his write-up, here is the link: http://www.pethealthnetwork.com/cat-health/cat-checkups-preventive-care/how-tell-if-your-cats-secretly-sick
This article is about the signs that your cat is sick or in pain. We cats are rather secretive about our health, so it is often hard for you two-leggeds to tell if we are well or ill.
Blame our instincts for our poor communication about our health. In the wild, if we were sick, we had to hide it, and often ourselves as well, because if word got out that we were sick, a predator would know we were weak and would eat us. Even though we live in a house, our instincts are still strong.
Can you tell if your cat is sick? Here are some clues to watch for. Is he limping? That can be a sign of an injury or perhaps a condition like arthritis, which I understand makes your bones hurt.
Cats can have these problems, especially as they get older. My old cousin, Pogo, has a bit of arthritis, and the CCL doctors him for it.
Is your kitty vomiting? If it happens just once, or if perhaps your cat is coughing up a hairball, the cat is probably okay. Very often, we like to chew on grass because it helps clean out our system. It is a way to remove a hairball from our stomach. However, if the vomiting continues, it could be a much more serious problem.
Call the Cat Torturer. (You call him a vet.) We cats don’t like that guy at all, but often he is the only one that can solve our problems.
Well, if you find we have lost our appetite, there has to be a reason. If we are healthy cats, our meal is often the high point of our day, so if we are not eating, you’d better figure out why.
If your cat starts hiding in a dark corner and refuses to socialize, he may be in pain or ill. He doesn’t want anyone to know, because he feels so miserable and just wants to hide and try to sleep.
Then it is very important to find out what has caused such behavior.
Does kitty’s breath smell? If so, it could be a sign of sickness. She could have some serious dental problems. You brush your teeth every day. Does your cat? Brushing your cat’s teeth will keep them healthier, I hear.
Is she suddenly much less active? Again, she may be sick or in pain. Is she acting differently?
Any of these may be warning signals to the two-legged person in your life that something is not right with the cat. Don’t let her try to talk you out of it — take her in for an exam.
Is your boy cat using spots other than his litter box to do his daily business of elimination? The reason could be that it hurts him when he uses the box, and he thinks it has something to do with the box.
The CCL had to get new uncovered cat boxes for Pogo, because he would not use a covered box. Fortunately, he has not had any problem with remembering to use his new cat box instead of the floor.
These litter boxes are great, because they have high sides which keeps the litter in the box. There is a low spot on one end, allowing your cat easy access. Keep those litter boxes clean! We don’t like to step on poo or pee when we get in the box. Would you? Your books recommend one box per cat plus one extra.
Other litter box problems: Be aware if the cat is having trouble with pooping or passing water. These could be warning signs of some kind of blockage, so heed them. For example, if kitty is in pain when he urinates, or if he can’t pass water but just cries, take him to the vet immediately.
My CCL can tell you about this one from experience. When her last cat, Carlos, developed FUS (Feline Urinary Syndrome) he couldn’t pee, and went to the CCL and gave a great cry of pain.
She’d seen him spending extra time scratching in the litter box, and guessed the meaning of the pain cry. When he came to her and gave that signal, she took him to the vet immediately, and saved his life by doing so.
Has your sweet girl cat had a sudden change of personality? If you see such behavior, it could be a sign that there is a problem. If she was always a sweet, affectionate girl, and suddenly lashes out at you, or doesn’t want you to touch her, better find out what is going on. Too bad she can’t speak English.
What about sleep habits? At our house, the CCL teaches all cat residents that they can’t stay up all night and sleep all day like wild cats do. They must learn to sleep at night when you two-leggeds rest. We alter our basic sleep-wake pattern for you, and learn to sleep when you do.
However, sometimes things happen to us that we don’t understand. It might be sickness or it might be some trauma in our lives, and it causes us to revert back to instinctual patterns. If you want to get any more sleep, you’d better figure out what is wrong.
What if your cat conversations with you change? If we are the kind of cat that likes to talk to you all the time, telling you about our day, and we suddenly stop talking, we are very possibly stoically accepting some pain we couldn’t avoid.
My most common behavior when I don’t feel well is to stay away from everyone and find a hiding place to nap and to recover.
Has that big Tom lost weight suddenly? It is possible that weight loss could be the sign of thyroid disease or cancer. (Please understand these are diseases I know nothing about, but the words are there, and you probably know what they mean.)
If your cat is too fat it could lead to some bad health conditions as well. A fat cat might get tumors and is more likely to be an arthritic cat. I know about arthritis because the CCL has it, and she deals with a lot of pain at times.
Has your cat stopped grooming as regularly? It might just be because she is older and gets tired. If so, try brushing her or combing her gently every day to help her out a bit.
If she is not washing as much and her coat looks dull or greasy, it may be a skin disease or some other problem.
On the other end of the scale, problems such as fleas or mange, or just plain stress can cause over-grooming. When CCL brought my old cousin home from the shelter, he was so stressed he had washed all the hair off his tummy. He looks so much better now, as that fur is all growing back again.
I notice that at the end of this article you two-leggeds are urged to bring your cat in to the Cat Torturer for regular checkups. It stresses me a bit to have to say this, but I think the article is correct.
We can’t talk and we do not want to be sick. If we are unable to deal with the problem, we must defer to you, our two-legged family. As we have consented to live with you, we must submit to your ways of doing things at times, even if we find them unpleasant. Sometimes, though, you have to catch us before we will submit.
If the end result is our return to good health, then that is excellent — and I say, “Bring on the Cat Torturer!”