Monday, July 21, 2008

Summer Cat Health Problems

Dealing with the Diseases of Summer

With warmer weather come warm weather hazards, such as a wide array of bugs and other pests who proliferate in the heat and moisture of summer.

This is the time of year to be extra cautious with your cat and to be sure to watch for and immediately handle the following problems if they arise:

Fleas - Talk to your vet about the safest and most effective ways to eliminate them. Not only are they annoying as they munch on your kitty, they pass along tape worms to your cat. This is done when they lick themselves because they are itchy and uncomfortable, and ingest infected fleas. This can be truly hazardous, as fleas can transmit diseases, too, along with even more tape worms. If the intestines become overrun with these worms, the cat will be always hungry, but losing weight. Eventually, getting no nutrition, the cat will die.

Giardia - More common in the western U.S. than the eastern states, this is a one-celled parasite that can be picked up simply by walking on damp ground or touching the feces of an infected animal. And yes, you can get it, too. Signs include vomiting and diarrhea.

Roundworms - These most often infect your kitty when she eats an infected rodent... a good reason not to let them eat mice. Signs are vomiting and diarrhea and a pot-bellied look. As with the Giardia, this is diagnosed by taking in a stool sample to the vet's office, where it will be identified and the appropriate treatment can be prescribed. Since these can infect humans, too, be sure to wash your hands if you accidentally handle any feces, and don't let children play in areas where feces might occur, such as sandy areas in the yard, etc.

Hookworms - Easily infected by walking on soil... your cat and you are both susceptible to this microscopic monster. It burrows in through the skin and migrates to lungs and intestines. Primary sign is dark stools. Luckily, this is easily diagnosed and treated. Don't go barefoot outdoors.

Ticks - Though more common on dogs, they can affect you and your cat. Ticks are visible so they are easy to find, but not so easy to remove. Getting the head out is crucial, to avoid infection, and possibly even Lyme Disease. If you aren't able to remove the head, take your cat to the vet and watch how it's done.

Heartworms - not just for dogs. Your cat can get them, too. Transmitted by infected mosquitoes, the signs include coughing, vomiting and weight loss. It's critical to get your cat to a vet ASAP to save its life.

Precautions you should take include keeping kitty's litter box clean, washing your hands immediately after cleaning it, not allowing kitty to eat mice, and for optimal health, keep kitty indoors.