If your cat has frequent bladder or urinary problems, they could develop a highly problematic disease known as cystitis. Symptoms of this condition include blood in urine, frequent urination, excessive licking of the urinary opening, or difficulty urinating. Your cat could even develop something similar to kidney stones, which is extremely painful.
What to Do
Serious complications of cystitis occur most often in adult male cats. The first flare-up usually occurs when the cat is fairly young, and repeat bouts can occur for the rest of his life. However, having said that, don’t think that just because you have a younger or female cat that you’re in the clear - urinary tract infections can strike any cat.
Experts agree that many factors, including diet, can contribute to a cat’s susceptibility to cystitis. For example, plant-based cat foods tend to make a cat’s urine more alkaline, which encourages the formation of crystals and stones, and is a more hospitable environment for bacteria. Even some commercial dry cat foods seem to have the same effect. As a result, cats that develop cystitis should only eat dry foods recommended by a vet or dry food that has been specially formulated for cats with bladder issues.
If the body doesn’t have enough of something it needs, it finds a way to get it. Therefore, if a cat isn’t drinking enough water, their body will find a way to conserve and reclaim water. One way to achieve this is by reabsorbing water from the urine, making it more concentrated. This can trigger cystitis. Therefore, you need to make sure that your cat has access to clean, fresh water.
When to Call the Vet
Cats with some form of urinary tract problem will often deliberately urinate away from their litter box, even if they’ve been 100% accurate all their lives. If your cat starts to have “accidents,” spraying urine, or squatting and straining outside of its litter box, don’t punish it. It's probably just trying to tell you that it has a problem. Book an appointment with the vet as soon as you notice one of these signals. If it’s a physical problem, the sooner you catch it, the easier it will be to treat. If it’s a behavioral thing, you can correct it before it becomes a habit.
If your feline friend is straining in the litter box (or elsewhere) and is producing little or no urine, or cries out in pain during urination, call your vet immediately. These are clear signs of a urinary blockage, an extremely serious problem.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is often referred to as feline AIDs, but this is not entirely correct. There are some similarities between the two diseases, but the important distinction to make is that humans cannot, under any circumstance, catch AIDs from a cat. Cats catch this virus from close contact with other felines. This can include mutual grooming or sharing food, water, elimination or sleeping areas.
What to Do
Since a cat can appear healthy and still be carrying one of these viruses, a new arrival should be tested for the virus. Your veterinarian might recommend a retest in a few months. This isn’t a scam - if your cat was recently infected, it might not show up on the first test.
There’s only one sure way to prevent your cat from contracting FIV, and that is to keep them away from the sources of the virus. In other words, keep them away from other cats and the places they frequent. This usually means keeping them indoors at all times. It definitely means testing any cat that's new to your household before they’re allowed to meet the resident cat. Preventative vaccines are also available, so you should consider scheduling an appointment with the vet to talk about whether you need to vaccinate your cats.
If your feline friend tests positive for FIV, don’t despair. With good care, FIV-positive cats can live for years, even after signs of the disease occur. New treatments are being developed all the time, and there might be a breakthrough that will help your cat long before they get seriously ill.
When to Call the Vet
Cats which have been diagnosed with FIV should see the vet regularly. In between checkups, notify your vet of any sudden abdominal bloating or swelling, low-grade signs of illness that never go away (sneezing or diarrhea), or any lumps.
A cat can be predisposed to asthma in the same way that humans are – from allergies. Just like people with asthma, cats can also suffer asthma attacks. During such attacks, your cat will have trouble breathing. If an attack is serious enough, it could be fatal for your feline friend.
What to Do
Stress can make allergies and asthma much worse. Cats weren’t originally designed to live among humans. They’ve done a fine job of adapting, but no matter how independent and primal your cat seems to be, they’re still having to deal with the human world each day. And that can be tough. To help your cat cope, give them plenty of opportunities to do cat things such as climb, run, stalk, hide, and nap.
Secondhand smoke isn’t the only thing that can make asthma worse. Even things that we use to make our home more pleasant can be a big no-no for a cat with asthma. Perfumes, deodorizers, room fresheners, and scented litters can trigger allergy and asthma attacks. You should use natural alternatives such as eucalyptus sprigs, flowers, and fresh floral potpourri to provide a fresh scent to a room.
Dry air dries out the lining of your cat’s air passages, encouraging coughing and making your cat more vulnerable to infection and allergic reactions. Therefore, you should make sure to have a good humidifier at home, especially in the winter, during heating seasons, and in arid areas of the country.
When to Call the Vet
Any full-blown asthma attack is a medical emergency, which means your cat needs immediate medical care. Likewise, if your cat starts gasping for air, collapses, or turns blue in the gums and tongue, don’t hang around. Milder signs, such as noisy breathing, occasional and intermittent wheezing, or moist coughs) aren’t emergencies, but you should get your cat to the vet as soon as possible. If it’s the start of asthma, your vet might be able to give your cat some medication that can help prevent the dangers and fright of an asthma attack.