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Thursday, October 19, 2017
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Pet Peeves - Part 2: Tabby Trouble

by Leonard Rego

When pets get sick, some of their symptoms can be just like ours. But others can be totally different, so much so that we might not even realise that they're ill!

Let's face it - unless you're Dr. Dolittle, you can't really understand what meows and bow-wows mean, so it's good to know what signs to look out for to catch when your pet's a bit 'under the weather'. This week, we will learn how to spot and even treat some of the symptoms your sick cat might be experiencing.

Tell-tail signs

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should take your cat to the vet immediately.

  1. A dull, patchy coat that clumps or sheds heavily
  2. Loss of appetite for several days in a row
  3. A bad case of the runs (diarrhoea), that lasts longer than a day
  4. Red, watery eyes
  5. Discharge from the nose
  6. Bad swelling or small lumps in or on its body, which may or may not increase in size
  7. Vomiting that doesn't stop
  8. Repeated coughing and sneezing
  9. It stops using the litter box
  10. It has a distant or depressed look
  11. It hides for more than a day
  12. It shakes its head often
  13. It stops grooming

You might have seen you cat sneezing or coughing non-stop for a little more than a minute sometimes, and he or she might even have vomited on different occasions. Usually, this does not mean that something is wrong with Tom or Tabby - unless of course the symptoms don't die down and last longer than usual.

Say me-aaaah!

You vet will probably prescribe a few medicines that you will have to feed your cat, depending on what has made it sick. But feeding a pet anything other than food can often be a challenge. Here's how to do it right:

Liquids: Any liquid medicine or solution can be poured or dropped into your cat's mouth from the side with a syringe (minus the needle, of course). Pour or drip a little at a time; with very small kittens, drip just one drop at a time. Be careful not to do it too fast, as the liquid could get into your cat's lungs and even give it pneumonia. Try and hold its head firmly but gently, to prevent it from shaking and spraying the medicine all over the place.

Pills: This one is a bit more tricky. Clutch your cat's whole head with one hand, and with the thumb and forefinger of the other hand, press on the opposite sides of the upper jaw. Then pull its head backwards gently, until its nose is pointing straight up and keep it in this position. Using your other hand, carefully pull down his lower jaw so that his mouth stays open. Quickly drop the pill onto the back of his tongue, and immediately close his mouth. Hold it shut, and rub his throat downwards softly to encourage it to swallow the pill. Blowing into its nose gently should also make it swallow the pill.

Avoiding a cat-astrophe!

Because of their playful nature, cats often prance and play hide-and-seek amidst plants, and you should know which ones are safe, as some are poisonous and can cause terrible illness and even death. Plants that seem harmless are often the biggest culprits, but keep these ones away from your cat and it will be safe:
  1. Calla Lilly
  2. Daffodil
  3. English holly
  4. English ivy
  5. Foxglove
  6. Honeysuckle
  7. Hydrangea
  8. Iris
  9. Larkspur
  10. Lily-of-the-valley
  11. Mistletoe
  12. Philodendron
  13. Poinsettia
  14. Wisteria
There are others that are dangerous as well, and you can ask your vet for a list. As with plants, some common household items such as aspirin and cleaning fluid can also be poisonous to your pet, and the vet can advise you about these as well.

We've talked only about a few of the things that you should look out for to keep your cat in good health, but there are other diseases that have very different symptoms. As a responsible pet owner, the best thing to do if Whiskers is acting strange is to observe him or her patiently and take notes that you can relate to your vet afterwards.

Follow the vet's instructions and take good care of it when it is sick, and in no time your cat will be feline fine!


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