The top 10 cat health questions
1. Is it normal for cats to mark their territory?
Cats are some of the most territorial creatures on the planet. When your cat sprays drapes, furniture or other items, they’re marking their turf. And every time your cat rubs his cheeks against you, he's doing the same thing—it’s his way of saying, "Back off—this one's mine."
2. What shots does my cat need?
All cats should be vaccinated for rabies, distemper and the feline herpes virus. Cats that spend time outdoors should have additional vaccinations, including those for feline immunodeficiency virus and leukemia.
3. My cat has a runny nose—should I be concerned?
Allergies, nasal mites, a cold or infection could be the cause of your cat’s runny nose. If your cat has discharge coming from just one nostril, there may be something in the nasal passage that's irritating the lining, or this symptom may indicate a nasal tumor. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with the vet.
4. What causes a cat to lose hair?
A certain amount of hair loss is normal. But excessive or patchy hair loss—especially when accompanied by inflamed skin—is not. It could be caused by scratching due to fleas, allergies or other skin irritants or it could be a sign of hyperthyroidism. Consult your vet to determine the cause and a course of treatment.
5. Why does my cat vomit so much?
Vomiting is your cat’s way of getting rid of hairballs and other things that upset his or her stomach. Vomiting that lasts only a couple of days is quite common, but vomiting that lasts more than 48 hours or contains blood is your cue to call the vet—this could be a symptom of a viral infection, intestinal obstruction, kidney disease or another serious illness.
6. What would cause a cat to refuse to eat or drink?
Cats can be very sensitive to changes in their environment or routine—houseguests, new food or a different feeding schedule can be stressful for them—and may respond by refusing food or water for a short time. If this refusal lasts more than 24 hours, consult your vet.
7. My cat’s not on a diet—why is he losing weight?
Sudden weight loss can be caused by common intestinal parasites like roundworms, hookworms or tapeworms. These parasites are easy to treat, but you’ll need to make an appointment with your vet. More serious causes of weight loss include cancer, hyperthyroidism, kidney disease and dental infections, which your vet will also need to identify and treat.
8. What should I do if my cat has diarrhea?
It's normal for cats to have occasional bouts of diarrhea. But if it persists, it could be a sign of something more serious, like intestinal infections or tumors. If your cat’s diarrhea lasts more than 48 hours, contains blood or is accompanied by vomiting or fever, see your veterinarian.
9. How do I know if my cat is overweight?
Your cat should have just a thin layer of fat over the bones of his or her rib cage and tail. And when you look down at your cat, the waistline should narrow behind the ribs. Now look at your cat from the side—does his abdomen tuck upward just behind the ribs? If your cat’s physique doesn’t match one or more of these criteria, your cat could be overweight. Make an appointment with your vet to get a weigh-in.
10. Why would my cat have a seizure?
Seizures are among the most difficult health issues a cat can face, and they range from simple pauses with a faraway look in the eyes to falling to the ground, twitching, convulsing, and urinating or defecating uncontrollably. The cause could be infection, hypoglycemia, kidney disease, tumors, epilepsy or exposure to toxins. Again, call your vet for a check-up and course of treatment.