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Top 5 Serious Cat Illnesses Only Your Vet Can Diagnose

Originally published on the Blog

By Jane Harrell, associate producer

Cats’ illnesses can have subtle symptoms, so if you wait until your cat is sick to take him to the vet, it might be too late.

We asked our Facebook fans, “Has your vet ever found an illness or issue with your cat during a routine wellness exam?” Here are some of your answers.

Top 5 Serious Cat Illnesses Only Your Vet Can Diagnose


Cardiomyopathy: The most common form of heart disease and sudden death in indoor cats, cardiomyopathy has few visible symptoms. But Judi H.’s vet heard something during her cat’s checkup. “My vet found a heart murmur when my cat was 7 that wasn’t there when she was 6,” Judi says. “It turned out to be cardiomyopathy, which we treated and she lived to be 16. Even if your cats are inside, they should go to the vet every year. Mine are only inside, but if my vet hadn’t found that murmur, my cat would have been dead by the age of 8.”

Hyperthyroidism: Overactive thyroid disease is the most common glandular problem in cats. It may cause weight loss, increased appetite and thirst — but not always, and those symptoms can be easy to miss. Amy M. says, “During Zoe’s routine senior blood workup, the vet found she was hyperthyroid — it was still in its early stages. This was when she was 12. She had radioactive iodine therapy and now my elder kitty is 18 and still going strong. Those routine tests can be worth every penny.”

Kidney disease: Because it causes gradual changes such as a dry coat, weight loss and bad breath, you might not recognize the symptoms of kidney disease — a common and potentially serious condition if left untreated. “I was taking my cat in to get her teeth cleaned,” says Becky I. “[Kidney disease] showed up on the blood screening they do before anesthesia. My girl lived to be 15 years, 8 months.”

Urinary crystals or blockage: If your cat suddenly starts peeing outside the litter box, or straining painfully when he tries to urinate, he may have crystals in his urine, which, left untreated, can cause a blockage and even death. But Melanie L.’s regular trip to the vet spared her cat the pain of a blockage by detecting crystals early. “We found out my male cat had crystals from doing routine work,” she says. “We would never have known otherwise! It kept a potentially very bad thing from getting worse.”

Diabetes: The early signs of diabetes — a big appetite, frequent urination, increased thirst and weight loss — can be easy to overlook, and might not be present at all. “I thought my Abbikitty was just slowing down, getting older; she’s 11,” says Sue P. It turned out her cat had diabetes. “Now that she is on her special diet, she acts like a kitten again!”

The lesson? Preventative care for cats can literally be a lifesaver. Call and schedule your cat’s next vet visit today!

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