Cat Health Care

In general, all cats suffer from similar cat health problems. There are exceptions that tend to differ based on breed and congenital (inherited) issues.  The best approach for keeping a cat healthy is through preventive care, early detection and annual visits to the veterinarian.

If you have a health concern, check these articles, use the search box on the right to review hundreds of reader questions and Vet suggestions, or visit our sister sites, the Cat Health Guide or Keeping Kittens.

cat health kittens with upper respiratory condition

Cat Health concerns start young. These 5 week old kittens have an upper respiratory infection caught passed on by the ill mother.
Source: Washington State University/Dr. Barbara Stein

Tips for Early Cat Health Problem Detection

Make it a habit to check your cat for signs of illness.  Specific checks should include:

  1. Eyes: Health cat eyes should be clear and bright. There should be little tearing. Watery eyes could indicate a cold or cat eye infection.
  2. Nose: The nose should be clean with nostrils free of discharge. If you see discharge it could mean that the cat is suffering from a respiratory infection.
  3. Ears: Cat ears should be clean with no discharge. Cat ear discharge is a sign of several problems:
    – Black or small tar balls in cat ear discharge: Could indicate an ear mite problem
    – Pus in cat ear discharge: could indicate a cat ear infection caused by bacteria or yeast.
  4. Breathing: The breathing should not appear labored.
  5. Gums/Mouth: Check for healthy pink color. Any skin ulceration or sores could indicate a problem.
  6. Hair and Coat: The coat should have a healthy appearance. Look for cat dry skin, bald spots, parasites or dandruff.
  7. Abdomen and Weight: A cat should look like it is of normal weight. A protruding abdomen can indicate a parasite problem.
  8. Behavior: Cats should not be physically threatening to an owner. They should be eager to play and not act lethargic.
  9. Body: Check the cat for any skin scrapes, lesions, bumps or lumps. These can indicate minor problems such as skin infection or more major cat health issues.

Cat Veterinary Care

Always check the health history of any new kitten or cat to make sure that your feline has received all recommended vaccinations. If a veterinarian doesn’t know the health history of a cat, it is common practice to test for FeLV (feline leukemia virus) and FIV (feline leukemia virus).  The veterinarian will also test the feces for parasites. The physical part of the examination will determine if a cat is suffering from parasites (mites, ticks, fleas).

Cat Vaccines

All cats receive the FVRCP vaccine which protects against calicivirus, panleukopenia  or distempter (contagious and deadly virus)  and viral rhinotracheitis. The vaccine is given at age 6 to 8 weeks. Boosters are needed every 3 to 4 weeks until age 16 weeks. Boosters are then provided after 1 year, and then every 3 years. Cats are also vaccinated against rabies. The vaccine is administered at age 8 to 12 weeks, and then 12 months later. After this, the vaccine is administered every 1 to 3 years. Many Vets also vaccinate against Felv or feline leukemia virus.

Cat Neutering and Spaying

Cats are neutered/spayed at age 6 months or earlier depending on the risk of pregnancy. The benefits are obvious given the over population of cats in shelters.

Helpful Cat Health Care Brochures (click for PDF download)

Choosing and Caring for Your New Cat
Cat Vaccination

Cat Health References:

Cornell Feline Health Center

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