Is your cat sick? Don’t overlook these subtle clues.

November 11, 2009 at 1:42 am Leave a comment

Champ1I got so wrapped up in arm rasslin’ with the FDA that I forgot to post this week’s column from!

Champ, a cat who belongs to a good friend of mine, came down with hepatic lipidosis a few weeks ago. Also known as “fatty liver disease,” it’s a condition triggered when cats, for a variety of reasons or unknown causes, stop eating for a time.

Champ is still sick, but has benefited from some excellent veterinary care and a surgically implanted feeding tube. His owner, however, is still struggling with guilt that she missed the signs he wasn’t feeling well:

The vet told her that Champ had probably not eaten for as long as two weeks by the time she brought him in.

“How could I have missed it?” she wondered. “He sleeps on my bed. I don’t ignore him. I couldn’t understand how this could have happened without my seeing it.”

Dr. Vicki Thayer, a board certified feline specialist and president-elect of the Winn Feline Foundation, a non-profit organization that is one of the leading funders of veterinary research into cat health, said such feelings are common, but owners like Hoffmann who miss signs of serious illness in their cats shouldn’t feel guilty.

“Cats are masters at disguising illness,” she said. “This ability kept them from appearing vulnerable to other predators in the wild.”

Cat owners, she cautions, must try to see through pets’ attempts to hide illness or injury, and stay vigilant for “subtle signs of sickness.”

Many vets jokingly say that the first symptom cat owners can spot is something they’ve dubbed “ADR”: Ain’t doin’ right.

It’s an easy-to-miss and hard-to-measure lack of interest, energy and appetite — and often the only early warning sign that cat owners will get of impending heart or kidney disease, cancer, a urinary tract infection, as well as the liver disease that struck Champ.

“In our busy lifestyles, it can happen to even the best of us where we don’t pick up the clues our cats are trying to tell us,” Thayer said.

And, however subtle they are, there are plenty of clues if you know what to look for.

Find out what to look for, and read the rest, here.…

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