As a responsible cat owner in Broken Arrow it is important to have an idea of what diseases may affect your cat. Cats can be affected by many diseases—infectious and non-infectious. Although there are certain diseases that cannot be prevented, most common diseases in cats can be prevented by vaccination, proper nutrition, regular grooming and health check-ups.
Common diseases that can affect your cat include feline panleukopenia, upper respiratory infections, and rabies.
- What is feline panleukopenia?
Feline panleukopenia is a highly contagious and deadly disease in cats. It is also known as infectious enteritis, feline distemper, feline ataxia and cat plague. The disease is caused by a virus (parvovirus).
- How can my cat get the infection?
Susceptible cats may get the disease from other cats through direct or indirect contact. Direct contact with the infected cat’s urine, blood, fecal material, nasal secretions, vomitus and parasites that feed on the infected animal’s blood can cause transfer of the disease.
Indirect contact happens when a susceptible cat comes in contact with the beddings, food dishes, cages, even the clothing and shoes of the handlers of infected cat. Moreover, pet shops, catteries, human shelters and other areas where infected cats frequent can be sources of infection for other susceptible cats.
- How can I know my cat has the disease?
The symptoms of this disease usually appear within 2 to 10 days after a cat’s exposure to the virus.
The signs and symptoms of the disease include:
– Loss of appetite
– Abdominal pain
– Vomiting and dehydration
– Extreme thirst
– Bloody diarrhea
- What is the treatment for cats with feline panleukopenia?
Cats suspected to suffer from the disease should undergo intensive fluid therapy to address dehydration. Sick cats should also be given antibiotics to control secondary bacterial infection. Secondary bacterial infection occurs as a result of an initial infection, which is in this case, is feline panleukopenia infection. The initial infection provides the favorable environment for bacteria to multiply uncontrollably resulting to a more severe infection.
- How can feline panleukopenia be prevented?
The disease, generally speaking, can be prevented by proper vaccination of kittens. Vaccination usually starts when kittens reach 12 weeks old. A booster shot is given in 2-4 weeks (3-4 weeks is ideal). Then, a year-after vaccination is given and same shot is given every after 3 years. However, this vaccination program can be adjusted depending on the prevailing circumstance in Broken Arrow. Your vet in Broken Arrow will be able to tell you the most suitable vaccination program for your cat.
Upper respiratory infections (Feline Respiratory Disease complex)
- What is feline respiratory disease complex?
Feline respiratory disease complex includes those illnesses that show symptoms of upper respiratory tract infection (e.g. rhinosinusitis, runny eyes and nose, salivation, and oral ulcers).
Upper respiratory tract infections are caused by many pathogens, namely feline viral rhinotracheitis (herpesvirus), feline calicivirus (FCV), Chlamydia felis, or combination of these infections.
Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) virus and feline calicivirus (FCV) are the most common cause of upper respiratory infections in cats.
- How can my cat get the infection?
Susceptible cats can get the disease through the air or through direct or indirect contact with an infected animal.
- How will I know my cat has the disease?
Signs and symptoms that your cat has upper respiratory tract infection include:
– Intense sneezing
– Runny eyes and nose (discharges later becomes thick and mucus-like)
– Severe cough
– Swelling of the eyelids
– Excessive salivation
– Ulcers in the mouth (results to difficulty in eating and drinking)
– Loss of appetite
- What will happen if the disease is left untreated?
If left untreated, the disease may be complicated by secondary bacterial infections leading to abortions and generalized infections (in the case of FVR).
- Is there a treatment for the disease?
There is no specific treatment for the disease and the treatment is largely symptomatic and supportive.
The treatment includes intravenous fluid therapy to keep the cat hydrated, antibiotics to fight secondary bacterial infection, medications to keep the eyes and the nose clear and unclogged (e.g. decongestants, antihistamines), and supportive treatment that will make the cat comfortable and well rested.
The owner can also help the cat by frequently removing the discharges from the nose and the eyes. Lysine may help reduce the severity of FVR infections by interfering with the replication of the virus.
- How can upper respiratory infections be prevented?
Vaccines are available against Chlamydia felis, FVR and FCV. Your vet in Tulsacan recommend the appropriate vaccination schedule for your cat.
Aside from vaccination, other measures to protect your cat from getting respiratory infections include avoiding exposure to sick cats, avoiding stress and overcrowding.
- What is rabies?
Rabies results in death among infected cats. Cats in the streets and even cats indoor can be potential sources of infection for humans and there is no treatment available against the disease – a reason why this disease has remained a major public health concern until now.
Rabies is caused by a virus. The disease is spread to other susceptible animals, not just cats but also other warm-blooded animals, through the saliva which contains the virus coming from an infected animal.
However, cats have been among the major concern because even the scratch from an infected cat’s claws can result to a spread of the disease. Why so? Because cats often groom themselves by licking at their coat and their paws, infected cats contaminate their paws with their infective saliva.
- How can I and my cat get rabies?
Rabid animals, or animals that have been infected with rabies, can infect your cat through a bite or through the entry of the virus in the infective saliva in an open wound.
Humans can get the disease through a bite of an infected animal or even from another infected human. Wound contamination among humans with the infective saliva can also serve as method of infection in humans.
- How do I know my cat has rabies?
The symptoms of the disease usually occur between ten days to several months following infection, depending on the location of the bite and how long will it take for the virus to reach the brain.
Of the forms of rabies, namely furious form and dumb form, cats most commonly experience the furious form. Signs and symptoms of rabies include:
– Change in behavior
– Restlessness and searching for dark areas for a hiding place
– Cat becomes vicious and attacks anything or anyone in its path whether humans or animals.
– Bright lights and loud noises can induce the so-called biting seizures
As the disease persists and progress into the paralytic state, the cat will show the following symptoms:
– Inability to swallow (even liquids)
– Severe salivation
– Frothing at the mouth
– Progressive immobilization of the body and the legs
– Lack of coordination
– Collapse and later, coma and death
Once your cat had been bitten by a stray animal or show any of the above mentioned symptoms, do not hesitate to call the vet in Broken Arrow. The vet will ask some questions and will give you instructions on how to deal with your cat.
By all means, avoid any contact with your cat without any instructions from the veterinarian. There is no cure for rabies so you might as well prevent yourself from being infected. Rabies vaccination, as a preventive, is highly recommended in all cats as required by law.
- How can rabies be prevented?
The best way to prevent your cat from rabies is by vaccination. Cats are usually vaccinated after 12 weeks of age, again after 1 year and then every 3 years. Your Broken Arrow veterinarian can tell you the appropriate vaccination schedule for your pet.
Also, be a responsible pet owner and do not allow your cats to roam freely, especially if you live an area where there are wild animals (bats, foxes, skunks, raccoons).
An ounce of prevention is better than cure; this holds true to many cat diseases. Have your cats vaccinated against the common and often fatal diseases. There are vaccines which combine two or three or more disease in one shot and they are called combination vaccines.
The vet in Broken Arrow can tell you the convenience and the other benefits you and your cat will get out of these kinds of vaccine. Your vet can also assist you with issues regarding your cat’s health. You may call the vet at (918) 258-0440 for further inquiries.