[FIRST, A SPECIAL NOTE FROM PEARL!
We’re well on the way to summer, and it’s going to get HOT! Please don’t leave any animal alone in a car. Even just a few minutes can heat vehicle interiors beyond what an animal can tolerate. Let’s make it a great summer! Help keep all of our precious babies safe from the heat all summer long.
Now, back to Fluffy and Fido!…]
FLUFFY: Hi, Fido. I’m not feeling so hot. But I’m a lucky cat. I’ll feel better soon, because mom and dad know what warning signs to look for, and they got me to the vet right away.
FIDO: You so are lucky! We should tell everyone about this.
FLUFFY: You know what? I think you’re right. Let’s call Meryl and Pearl, so that they can tell all the Sante D’Or readers how their cats communicate when they’re not feeling well.
…And so they did! Here are Fluffy’s tips on warning signs not to ignore. Please call your vet immediately if you notice any of them. If you think it’s an emergency, treat it like one and go to the vet right away. Vets love animals. They’d rather you bring the cat in and have it turn out to be nothing than ignore a symptom because you feel silly. Sounds a lot like people doctors, doesn’t it?
Changes in Litter Box Behavior
If your cat has always been meticulous in her use of the litter box, and you suddenly notice changes, pay attention. Urinating outside the box, straining to defecate or urinate, and making trips to the box but not producing any output are all signs that something’s wrong.
Make sure you’re keeping the litter box clean (cats hate dirty boxes!), and that she doesn’t object to it for some reason (you’ve made a change in type or brand, she doesn’t like the scent, etc.). Once you’ve determined that none of that is the cause, it’s time to call the vet. This is especially true if your cat is crying or giving other indications that he is in pain.
Diarrhea, Constipation and Vomiting
A little of any of these is perfectly normal, and won’t hurt a healthy cat, but if they persist, they may indicate or lead to problems. Prolonged diarrhea can result in dehydration, constipation may be a sign of blockage, and vomiting (other than the occasional hairball) is not normal.
Take note over a few hours, and if the condition persists, call your vet. If you see blood, especially in vomit, don’t wait. Get to the vet, pronto!
Sudden Unexplained Weight Gain or Loss
Cats are little creatures (well, most of them are, anyway!). A pound in either direction is like 10 pounds in a human being. Some weight loss in older cats is common as they lose muscle mass, but any sudden and unexpected gain or loss may signal something more serious. Get your baby to the vet, and if he’s fine, you can celebrate. If he needs treatment for something, you’ll be glad you went. Remember, just as with
people, most cat conditions respond better to treatment when caught early.
Changes in Appetite or Drinking Habits
Take refusal to eat or drink very seriously. This may mean your cat is in pain, or is otherwise feeling poorly.
the only symptom you’ll see of a much bigger problem, so give the vet a call once you’ve established that it’s more than a momentary step out of the norm. Increased thirst may be a sign of diabetes, especially if it’s accompanied by more frequent urination or urinating outside the box. As with other symptoms discussed in today’s column, it’s certainly possible that nothing serious is wrong. But always check it out anyway, just to be sure.
Stiffness, limping, holding a paw up to avoid putting weight on it… all of these, especially in younger cats, are generally a sign that’s something’s amiss. With all of their jumping and playing, it’s not impossible for a cat to pull a muscle or experience a soft tissue injury. Older cats may stiffen up in response to arthritis as well. In most cases, these symptoms are not serious, but you want your cat to be comfortable, so a call to the vet is in order. [Fluffy’s problem was a pulled muscle, and we’re happy to report that she’s doing fine with some gentle massage and a lot of love.]
You know your cat better than anyone.
If you notice that she has gone from an outgoing animal who loves people to hiding under the bed, or from gentle to aggressive, assume that she’s trying to tell you something. While this probably isn’t an immediate crisis, it’s still a good idea to call your vet.
We hope you enjoyed these tips, and that you learned something new! Many thanks to wonderful adopter Lisa, who sent in the original idea for this column.We’d love to hear from you, too, so please send your ideas to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Meryl Schwarz, M.A., M.Ed., is an animal lover and Certified Professional Coach specializing in grief support for people grieving their beloved animals. Whether you’re grieving a terminal diagnosis, the normal aging process, a disappearance or a death, Meryl offers compassionate and caring support with the wisdom of experience. Visit her website at www.merylschwarz.com to schedule an appointment by Skype or phone.