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What Are The Most Common Reasons Cats Go To The Vet?

Here are the 12 most common reasons cats go to the vet

Taking a companion into the vet is never a fun experience.  That got me thinking, what are the most common reasons people take their cats into the vet?

The most common reason people take their cats into the vet include:

  • Ingrown Claws
  • Urinary Tract Blockage or Infection
  • Periodontal Disease
  • Ringworm
  • Tooth Infection
  • Pancreatitis
  • Lymphosarcoma
  • Ear Infection
  • Upset Stomach
  • Diabetes Complications
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Renal Failure

What are the most common reasons cats go to the veterinarian?Dogs usually don’t like going to the vet very much.  They will usually put up with it for a chance to put their head out the car window.

But cats loathe a trip to the veterinarian.

For that reason there is a natural hesitancy to bring your feline friend into the doctor.

That’s understandable.

If your cat becomes distressed by the process of a vet’s visit, it’s natural to want to spare them that.

And if your cat objects, it’s not a lot of fun for you either.

Now, you should take your cat for a regular check no matter how unpleasant it is.

Sometimes your pet may seem a little unhappy or sick, but you’re not sure if you should take them in.

With a cat, the tendency might be to spare both your animal friend and yourself the trouble.

There will always be a doubt that the problem may be more serious than you think and you should take your pet in anyway.

Here are the top 13 reasons cats visited the vet in 2018, according to a study by Nationwide pet insurance.

We’ll discuss symptoms so you know what to watch for and let you know when you should definitely take your pet to the vet.

Ingrown Claws

Ingrown claws occur when your cat doesn’t scratch objects that manicure their nails.

ingrown cat claw - common reason for a cat visit to the vet
Ingrown claws are not fun for anyone. Cats need to scratch and exercise to keep their nails tip-top.

When the nail grows too long, they curl in on themselves.  They can puncture the paw causing pain, bleeding, and infection if left alone.

An ingrown claw is a nuisance, pure and simple.  They are painful but are preventable.

Allow your cat to scratch cardboard or a scratching post.  This will help prevent ingrown claws. Trimming their claws with a file or clippers will help as well.

Once the nail starts to curl in on itself, it’s time to take action.  If it punctures the paw, place a pad underneath and change it out every few hours until it heals.

If the paw becomes infected, it’s time to see the vet.

This is by far the most expensive and least desirable option, both for you and your kitty.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, or gum disease, is one of the most common diseases in cats.  But what exactly is periodontal disease?
This condition occurs when food gets caught on the gumline and forms plaque.  Over time the plaque coagulates with minerals and saliva to form tartar.  If this is not treated, it irritates and inflames the gums causing gingivitis.  Gingivitis is the first stage of periodontal disease.
 
Once gingivitis sets in, bacterial infection follows.  It begins with one tooth and before you know it, it spreads. What follows is sensitive gums, cavities, loose teeth, and tooth loss. 
 
Treating gum disease can be tricky, but can be done if caught early.  It will involve daily brushing, professional cleaning, and fluoride rinses.  In advanced stages, affected teeth need to be removed.  It’s not ideal, but it’s the only way to treat affected gum areas affected by the disease.
 
Sometimes our pets have more in common with us than we realize.  Periodontal disease is one of those commonalities.
 
Cats need dental care like we do.
 
They don’t need it on a daily basis, but it is every bit as important for our companions as it is for us owners.  Once a week is perfect to take preventative care measures.  Your going to need to take is slow.  Your cat won’t take to it right away, but short periods to start will show them there is nothing to fear.
There are some great cat dental treats and water additives out there as well.  Make sure they are certified by the Veterinary Oral Health Council and you’re good to go.

Ringworm

Ringworm is one of the most common skin disorders among cats worldwide.  Contrary to what the name might insinuate, it has nothing at all to do with worms.
 
It is a fungal infection and has nothing to do with parasites.   The fungi responsible are called dermatophytes and they originate from the soil.
 
Just because your cat comes into contact with dermatophytes doesn’t mean that they will get ringworm.  Cats who groom themselves often may shed the fungi right off.  They may also contract ringworm but never show any signs.  If they do show signs, it can become quite unpleasant. 
 
Look for these symptoms and if you see them, call your vet and take your poor kitty in when you can. 
cat with ringworm 
 
Symptoms can include dermatitis, or a circular rash that can get very itchy, loss of hair on and around the circular rash, skin inflammation, excessive itching and grooming, and infected nails.  Not fun for anyone.  
 
A lot of times, cats can get over ringworm on their own, though it can take up to a year.  This is not at all advised as your kitty could cause harm to themselves before the disorder is gone.  It is infectious, so other cats can contract it as well.
 
Just get into the vet as you are able and save everyone a harder time than necessary.  At least 6 weeks of treatment is necessary to rid your cat of ringworm. 
 
Antifungal cream and oral medications will be recommended.  If the problem is severe, there are full body dips available like how you would treat excessive fleas.

Tooth Infection

It’s becoming more common to hear vets tell pet parents to brush their furry buddy’s teeth on occasion.

Most of us may not follow those guidelines as we should. But, cats do need some care for their teeth on occasion.

85% of cats at least three years old have some sort of dental disease.

That’s a lot.  But it’s important to note that there are several types of dental disease.

Each, of course, has varying levels of seriousness.

Most tooth infections start as simple plaque build up on your kitten’s teeth.

This is where brushing can help. All plaque, including the plaque on your teeth, is a film of bacteria that can lead to disease and decay.

The treatment is simple: as with humans, regular brushing to reduce plaque is helpful.

Your vet may offer to do this for a fee, or you can do it yourself using a cat-friendly toothbrush and toothpaste.

Checking your cat’s teeth should be part of their regular checkup, and your vet can let you know if there is a problem.

Pancreatitis

This one is pretty gross and very unpleasant.

It is very treatable, so no need to fret.

Pancreatitis is an inflammation of the pancreas.

The pancreas is an organ that produces the enzymes that help digest food. When it becomes inflamed, the enzymes can leak out into the abdomen, and eat away at the other organs.

Organs consuming one another is not good. If it goes without treatment pancreatitis can have serious health consequences.

Infections, diabetes mellitus, and trauma to the abdomen can all cause pancreatitis.

Symptoms of pancreatitis include vomiting, weight loss, loss of appetite, depression, and fatigue.

If your cat is experiencing these symptoms for any length of time you should take them to the vet, no matter what.

Obviously cats vomit on a regular basis.

It can be difficult to judge between a cat’s natural routine from fatigue and sluggishness.

Usually, you’re looking for a few symptoms all to occur together.

When the vet confirms pancreatitis, they will treat with fluids and medication.  If it’s treated on time most cats will make a full recovery.

Lymphosarcoma

Lymphosarcoma is a cancer located in the lymph nodes and lymph tissue. Specifically the lymphocytes, which are a type of blood cell.

It is one of several types of cancer that fit under the general heading of lymphoma.

Cancer is always a scary word, and it’s not made any better by it being in your cat.

Unfortunately, lymphosarcoma is one of the most common types of cancer in cats. It is been linked to the feline leukemia virus, and most agree that the virus can cause lymphosarcoma.

The cancer may have different symptoms, as it can affect different parts of your cat’s body. The most common form of lymphosarcoma occurs in the stomach and gastrointestinal tract.

Symptoms will include vomiting, weight loss, and lack of appetite. It is also found in the chest which will cause difficulty breathing.  It also commonly occurs in the kidneys, causing problems with urination and vomiting.

Its called leukemia when it occurs in the bone marrow.  This will cause problems with anemia and infection.

See other types and symptoms here: http://www.petmd.com/cat/conditions/cancer/c_ct_lymphoma

When your vet suspects that your cat may have cancer, the first step is usually a biopsy.

The vet will take a very small piece of the suspected tumor and examine it. This will tell the vet if it is malignant or benign.

If it is malignant, more tests will follow to determine the severity of the cancer and how far it has spread.

Treatment will consist of chemotherapy, and potentially surgical removal of the tumors.

Side effects can be minimal with chemotherapy.  The chances of the cat surviving are usually good as well.

You’ll want to talk to your vet about a prognosis and other issues such as quality of life. Every case is different, so listen and work within your particular parameters.

Ear Infection

Ear infections are no doubt unpleasant.  The good news is that they are much less serious than some of the other problems on this list.

Ear infections in cats are usually the result of some other issue.

Ear mites can often cause them (in fact causing around half of ear infections in cats).  Ear mites usually come from other cats, like fleas.

Long hair, wax build up, or foreign objects like grass or fluff that get stuck can also cause ear infections.  The fluid in the inner ear becomes infected when it cannot drain.

Your cat will often paw or scratch at their ear, or shake their heads when they are suffering from an ear infection.

You should check for redness or swelling inside the ear, a strong odor, and a yellow or black discharge. Any of these symptoms are a reason to take your cat for a checkup.

Most often, you’ll get an ointment or other medication and your vet will show you how to clean your cat’s ear.

Antibiotics in pill form are commonly prescribed. Ear infections are very treatable, and as long as they are not left for too long, your cat should be fine.

Diarrhea

Diarrhea isn’t fun to have, and even less fun to clean up.

We all know what it looks like, so I will spare you the details.

Unfortunately, there may be a host of reasons why your cat is experiencing diarrhea. They might have eaten something that disagreed with them or it could be a symptom of a more serious illness.

Diarrhea, in itself, is more of a symptom than an illness. A big red flag to watch out for is blood in your cat’s feces.

This is not always a bad sign, but it can be an indicator that the diarrhea is the result of an illness rather than a general upset stomach.

Again, looking for a few symptoms occurring together is always a good way to spot an unhealthy pet.

Treatment is going to depend on the underlying cause of diarrhea. Sometimes the simple passage of time might solve the problem.  Sometimes kitty will need medication or other treatments to clear everything up.

The best thing that pet parents can do is keep their pet hydrated and keep them comfortable.

Upset Stomach

This is another one that’s more of a symptom than an illness.

Like with diarrhea, it correlates with a variety of conditions, most of them not very serious.

Vomiting, diarrhea, and other problems associated with an upset stomach can signify more serious issues.

Not knowing can cause the most stress and distress for you and your pet.

You’ll spot an upset stomach usually by two main symptoms: vomiting and lack of appetite.

There could be several reasons that your cat has an upset stomach that are not caused by an illness. Changing food, stress, or allergies are just a few of many potential causes.

Changing food too quickly is actually one of the most common causes of an upset stomach.

Regular brushing and grooming can also help keep your cat’s stomach feeling fine.

It’s usually best to err on the side of caution and seek the care of a veterinarian.

Bladder Infection

Cats can sometimes be prone to bladder and urinary tract infections.  The exact causes usually aren’t known.

The infection could be the result of bacterial or viral infections or blockages.

The first thing people usually notice is that kitty is spending more time than usual in the litter box.  This is because urinating has become painful and difficult due to the infection.

If you check the litter box and there is blood, then you’re most likely dealing with a urinary tract infection.

If your cat is peeing in weird places or peeing frequently, it is also likely they have an infection of some kind.

A UTI is not an immediately life-threatening illness, but it’s not fun for your cat (or for you either). As soon as you suspect your cat has a urinary infection, you should head to the vet.

There, the vet can prescribe antibiotics, or whatever other treatment they deem necessary.

A cat’s UTI should not be taken lightly.  Infection can turn into blockage, which is fatal to your feline friend.

Having difficulty urinating is not the only sign of a UTI. Beware if you see this along with lethargy, incessant pain, extreme fatigue, or collapsing from exhaustion.  If you do, please call your veterinarian immediately.

These are the most common symptoms of a urinary tract issue in cats.  If you wait too long it can become A LIFE THREATENING EMERGENCY.

There are some things you can do to help prevent infections and blockage.  The most effective strategies include:

  • Asking your veterinarian about risk factors your cat may have.  If your kitty has a history of crystals or blockages, your vet may prescribe special food.  This special food will adjust the pH balance in your cat’s urine.
  • Change the litter box on a regular schedule.  A dirty litter box is the enemy.
  • Keep Whiskers busy, happy, and stress-free.  An exercised cat is a happy cat. Scratching posts, toys, things to climb, and items to hunt will keep your kitty stimulated, happy, and healthy.
  • Make sure kitty is drinking plenty of water.  Wet food also helps a kitty stay hydrated.

Diabetes Complications

Diabetes mellitus is not uncommon among cats.

As with people, your cat’s digestive tract reduces foods to sugars which your body burns for fuel. An essential part of this process is the hormone insulin.

If your cat’s body cannot use or produce insulin, they have diabetes. Symptoms can be mild, but your vet will usually test for the disease as part of a regular checkup.

If your cat is diabetic, it is possible they may develop a more serious condition called ketoacidosis.

Ketoacidosis can be a deadly condition where the body starts breaking down fats at a rapid pace.  The liver then breaks down the fats into acids. This creates a problem as the blood becomes too acidic.

Common symptoms include vomiting, lethargy, weakness, loss of appetite, and troubled breathing. If your cat develops these symptoms, call the vet immediately.

Diabetes is a treatable disease but at the moment not a curable one.

Treatment will vary depending on the specifics of the case. Treatments may include insulin injections, other medications in pill form, and a controlled diet.

Untreated, diabetes can shorten a cat’s lifespan drastically. With treatment, cats can lead regular lives.

The exact mechanism that causes diabetes is unknown, but it is strongly linked to poor diet and excess weight.

Cats that have diabetes triggered by weight gain may not need insulin after they lose weight.  Keeping your cat on a healthy diet, and at a healthy weight, can also reduce their chances for diabetes.

Hyperthyroidism

The thyroid is a gland in your cat’s neck that produces a range of hormones used throughout the cat’s body.

Hyperthyroidism is usually caused by a small tumor on the thyroid that is not cancerous.  That can cause the thyroid to produce more hormones than your cat needs.

It’s not a sudden or extreme problem.

Over the long term it can lead to more serious issues, such as heart problems and hypertension.

It can also cause weight loss at the same time as your cat’s appetite increases. Other symptoms can include hyperactivity and greasy fur.

Hyperthyroidism is treatable. If it goes untreated for too long, however, it can be more difficult to deal with.

Medication is usually the first treatment.   The vet may choose surgery to remove the thyroid or radioactive iodine treatments.

The iodine treatments consist of an injection.  The iodine travels to the thyroid to remove the gland, returning the cat’s hormone levels to normal.

Be on the lookout particularly with middle-aged and older cats.  They are far more likely to suffer from this disease.

Renal Failure

As most cat owners know, their pets are susceptible to kidney problems.  This will lead to renal failure over time if it goes unnoticed.

The kidneys clean blood by removing waste and shunting it off to the bladder.   From there, it evacuates from the body.

When kidneys don’t function as well, they don’t do as good of a job filtering out the waste.  This leads to a buildup of harmful toxins in your cat’s body, which causes all sorts of new problems.

There are two general types of renal failure; chronic and acute. Acute is a sudden failure that happens in a relatively short period of time. A chronic condition is present for a much longer period of time.

Acute renal failure is scary because it’s usually caused by an external factor like eating poison. It can sometimes be treated and the cat returned to health.

A chronic condition is not curable, though many treatments exist that can extend a cat’s life and make Whiskers more comfortable.

This is another one that is most likely to be spotted when you take your cat in for a regular checkup.

If you notice a sudden increase in urination, increased thirst, vomiting, and weight loss, kidney problems might be to blame.

The earlier it is diagnosed and treated, the better for your cat.

These are the most common reasons cats go to the vet.  Some are preventable. Others are painful, while others yet are just inconvenient.

Regular veterinary checkups are crucial.  They will go a long way towards diagnosis, education, and a healthy happy future for you and your fuzzy buddy.

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Written by Monty

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