Preventing common kitty problems
We all know that prevention is better than cure. Here are a few ways to prevent common problems in your furry felines.
We cannot keep our cats safe and well all the time, but a little forethought can help minimise the risks to
which they are exposed. Our cats cannot understand what these are. So, it is up to us to think about how we take care of them and to keep them as healthy and well protected as we possibly can.
Acute renal failure
Some cases of acute renal failure can be prevented by removing the causes from your home. Easter lilies and some other similar plants are toxic to cats and even a sprinkling of pollen licked off the fur can be enough to cause problems. Make it known to your loved ones that you prefer to be given other types of flowers. Antifreeze can also cause renal failure and some cats seem attracted to its smell, so avoid having it in your house or garage if possible, or at least keep it safely shut away. If any antifreeze is spilled, then clean it up properly.
Urinary tract obstruction and bladder stones
These conditions may be triggered and can certainly be exacerbated by cats having an insufficient intake of liquids. So, ensure that there is always a plentiful supply of fresh, clean drinking water for your kitty. You can encourage cats to drink by putting additional water bowls around the house, using drinking fountains and adding ice cubes to the water bowls. Providing drinks other than water as occasional treats can also help increase the liquids intake, but these should only be suitable drinks, such as cat milk, spring water from a can of tuna (not brine as it is too salty), or a little homemade meat or fish stock with no salt. Adding water to their food can also be useful with cats who seem to dislike drinking.
Foreign body ingestion
Many cats become seriously ill or die each year from this but it can be avoided. Sharp objects may stick in the throat, but it is more common to find foreign bodies stuck in the stomach or small intestine. If an object such as a toy of teat from a baby’s bottle is swallowed and cannot pass through the cat’s digestive system, it can cause a blockage. Also pieces of thread, string or shoelaces can cause problems if they trail through the intestines and cause them to fold over or knot up. Be aware of such kind of things that could cause problems and do not allow them to be left lying around. Make sure sewing kits and small objects are not left in accessible places, especially when playful kittens are running about. Keep an eye on your cats’ behaviour and if they enjoy chewing toys, make sure you throw away any that come apart. If you see a cat swallow anything and then start vomiting, rush to a vet immediately.
Gingivitis and tooth loss
It is known that gingivitis in cats can be significantly exacerbated by other conditions, so keeping your cat generally healthy is a good first step in preventing it. However, any cat can be affected and avoiding dental plaque and tartar is an important preventative measure. Too much soft sticky food can lead to the development of plaque and tartar and this can be minimised by feeding dry food, especially large kibbles which need to be bitten before the cat swallows them. There are also treat foods available to help keep teeth clean, including special cat treats as well as foods such as jerky, or dried (unsalted) fish. Large chunks of meat such as ‘ham ends’ can also be given. Some owners give raw chicken wings, but cooked bones should never be given as they can splinter.
(Anthony Nichols has been showing cats for about 20 years, starting with non-pedigrees, and breeding for about ten years. He has bred Devon Rex and Singapuras, but mainly focuses on breeding LaPerms in a range of colours, particularly the reds, creams, torties, chocolates and colourpoints).