COMMON AILMENTS (page 2) - Health Care

The urinary system
Problems in this system are marked by difficulty passing urine, blood in the urine, loss of weight, and thirst.

When a cat strains to pass urine, the owner may thing it is suffering from constipation, but it may have “gravel” in the urine. Cats on mainly dry-food diets, cats taking insufficient water, and tom cats castrated very early are more prone to “gravel”. Which is a deposit of salt crystals in the bladder that can eventually block up the water pipe (urethra) of male animals. When the bladder is over-full and tight as a drum, the cat is on considerable pain, will resent being handled, and may actually turn to look at its hind quarters and spit angrily. Take your cat to the vet for treatment, and don’t try squeezing the cat’s swollen bladder yourself because it is very easy ruptured.

Blood in the urine generally indicates bladed infection (cystitis). This complaint is more common in female cats and also requires veterinary treatment.

Loss of weight and thirst, particularly in old cats, can be due to kidney disease, although other diseases including diabetes can also cause these symptoms.

Preventive measures against urinary problems include making sure that your cat always eats a good proportion of moist food and bas plenty of fresh water available. Do not have a tom astrated too early.

The vet can deal with urinary problems by using special urine-active antiseptics and antibiotics. He can catheterize a cat’s bladder painlessly to free blockages and take urine samples for analysis. The kidneys can be X-rayed by contrast radiography and, if necessary, the bladder and urethra can be operated upon quite safely.

Genitalia
In female cats the most common symptom of a genital infection is a purulent discharge – which may be white, pink, yellow, or chocolate-coloured – from the vagina. Cats that are known to be pregnant should be taken to the vet immediately. In non-pregnant queens it can be a sign of womb infection (usually ollowing kittening), or the onset of the hormonal disease pyometra. This is commonest in queens that have never had kittens or have had just one litter. It looks like a septic infection and can make the animal very ill through absorption of the pus-like fluid that distends the womb, although in many cases the pus is sterile. It is not an infectious disease
although secondary bacterial invasions are a danger.

If you are not planning on breeding, have a female spayed when young. If discharges are seen, clean the vulval area with warm water and weak antiseptic and take the little lady along to the vet.

This queen is being spayed while under gas anaesthetic.

The vet may prescribe hormone treatment together with drugs to reduce the amount of fluid in the womb and antibiotics to tackle any opportunist bugs. His main weapon is normally surgical: the removal if the diseased womb (hysterectomy) through a side or mid-line incision under general anaesthetic.

If Puss is in a weak and toxic state because of the diseased womb, the vet may delay operating for some time in order to try to strengthen her with vitamins, antitoxic drugs, and
antibiotics.

The Skin
There are many kinds of skin disease in cats. Tell-tale signs include thin or bald patches in the fur, scratching, and wet or dry sores.

Itchy thinning of the hair over the trunk with points of oozing red scabs is one of the commonest skin diseases. Often named “Fish Eczema” this complaint has nothing to do with eating fish but is glandular in origin.

Skin parasites – fleas, lice, ticks, and mites – are most numerous in hot weather. Fleas and, less commonly, lice and ticks can cause damage to the coat. The presence of just one

single flea on a cat – terribly hard to track down – may set up widespread itchy skin irritation as an allergic reaction to the flea’s saliva, injected when the little devil sucks. In late summer, orange specks in the fur of the head and ears or between the roes reveal the presence of harvest mites.

Irritating mange caused by an invisible mire can cause dry, motheaten-looking areas around the head and ears.

If you see or suspect the presence of any of the skin parasites, obtain one of the anti-parasitic aerosols or powders for cats from the pet shop or chemist. Never use DDT on cats.

If necessary, have the cause of your pet’s tatty upholstery investigated by the vet. He can prescribe different drugs for the various types of disease, but may need to do sample-analysis to diagnose some conditions. To detect ringworm, for example, which takes a very subtle form in cats compared to that in humans or cattle, it may be necessary to do an ultra-violet light examination of fungus culture from a hair specimen. Ringworm can now be treated by drugs given orally and mange can be treated externally by baths, creams, and aerosols, or by tablets, which work via the bloodstream. “Fish Eczema” is treated by hormone tablets.

Pic 1
1 If you look closely, you will see a flea in this cat’s coat.

Pic 2
2 To treat skin parasites, sprinkle a proprietary powder (or use an aerosol) onto the coat. Avoid eyes, nose, and mouth.

Pic 3
3 With powder gently stroke it into the coat “against the grain.

Pic 4
4 Comb excess powder out of the coat.

External Cat Parasites

1. Flea – Can cause skin problems
2. Louse – Can cause poor health and anemia.
3. Sheep tick – Can cause anemia.
4. Mange mite – Can cause inflammation and hair loss.

Roundworms
These can cause bowel upsets, particularly in kittens. They can spread to humans and occasionally damage babies severely.

An advance case of ringworm that has bad to be rather drastically shaved for treatment. Most cases are far less dramatic.

Rid your cat of round worms by giving one of the modern worming drugs at regular three-month intervals throughout its life.

Tapeworms
These worms do not often cause the cat much trouble but they can occasionally spread to humans.

To prevent infestation, keep your cat free of fleas because they act as host to tapeworm larvae. If you see tapeworm segments (they look like grains of boiled rice) in the stools, or stuck to the hair around the anus, give the cat a dose of one of the modern tapeworm drugs such as bunamidine or niclosamide. The very safe worming drug, mebendazole, eradicates both roundworms and tapeworms in the cat and should be used regularly.

Bites and other wounds
Cats do fight and often get bitten particularly unneutered toms that frequent low company. Bites tend to go septic and they can prove troublesome. They may produce abscesses, which on the torso take the form of soft, low swellings covering a wide area. Hidden by the fur, and not always easy to detect by probing with the fingers, the only clue to their presence may be if the cat shows signs of pain when handled. On the limbs or tail, where the bone lies close to the surface, it is common for bacteria to reach the surface of the bone when an attacker’s canine teeth pierce the skin. If not treated quickly, bites to the tail can become gangrenous. Septic wounds of the feet can show themselves as dramatically enlarged “club paws”.

As soon as you detect a bite wound, clip the hair around it down to the skin with scissors. Apply a strong solution of Epsom salts (magnesium sulphate crystals) dissolved in warm water to the wound as frequently as possible. Antiseptic ointments are of little value as the bacteria have been “injected” by the biter’s teeth. A single long-acting shot of penicillin from the vet is a prudent measure.

Where the animal is found to have an abscess, swollen limb, or septic tail, professional treatment is always essential.

Other types of wounds where the skin is torn, should be bathed in weak antiseptic and warm water, dried and then sprinkled with an antiseptic powder.

Veterinary treatment will be needed for wounds that are of a size to need stitching. Small wounds, if contaminated with soil, etc., and particularly old or puncture wounds, will benefit greatly from antibiotic therapy.

Humans bitten or scratched by cats should regard their wounds as potentially dangerous. There is the possibility of infection with the germs of “cat-scratch fever”, or with the bacterium often found in cats’ mouths, Pasteurella septica.

To stop a cat interfering with surgical wounds, inflamed ears or other conditions of the head, a home-made collar is effective.

Lumps and bumps
You may find a “growth”, thickening, or swelling somewhere on your cat’s body, perhaps on a leg, eyelid, or on the tummy. In the majority of cases, these are unlikely to be tumors, benign or otherwise. Blood blisters (haematoma), inflammation, or balls of matted hair are much commoner causes.

Tumors do occasionally arise in cats, and a small percentage of these may be malignant (cancerous). If they are caught early when they are small, it is easier for the veterinarian to remove slowly while inflammatory conditions such as abcesses generally appear quickly.

COMMON AILMENTS (page 1) - Health Care

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