The Sick Cat: A Master of Hiding Symptoms

If there’s one thing that cats do really, really well, it’s this: They act like it’s their house and you’re living in it.

If there’s another thing that cats do really, really well, it’s this: They hide their problems from those around them.

Cats are very good at hiding illness.  A sick cat that shows he’s a sick cat is a very, very sick kitty.  And this is one of the great challenges in veterinary medicine, knowing when to look deeper and how to know just how a cat is feeling.

This is what prompted Will Rogers to say:

“I think the best doctor in the whole world is the veterinarian.  He can’t ask his patient what’s wrong — he’s just got to know.”

Never was this more true than in feline medicine.  We at the Cuyahoga Falls Veterinary Clinic have seen feline friends present with

*terrible periodontal disease while still eating
*significant arthritis while still moving smoothly through the house
*kidney disease with only a barely perceptible increase in thirst

Cats are very, very good at appearing normal.

And because they hide their sickness so well, we cannot rely on them telling us when they need health care.  We can’t wait for our kitty pets to let us know they need a visit to the veterinarian.

The best medicine is preventive medicine.  Preventing disease before disease sets in can save on cost in the long-run, and it also prevents suffering.  And when a cat becomes sick because of a disease that was not preventable, catching the disease early with a physical examination and routine diagnostics gives the veterinarian the best opportunity to cure and/or manage the disease.

Here are some examples of catching disease in its early stages and the benefit that is provided:

  1. Extracting the broken tooth prevents ongoing pain and the risk of oral, then systemic infection.
  2. Diagnosing and treating kidney disease while there is still a reasonable amount of functional kidney tissue allows the kitty to have a maximum time of comfortable living.
  3. Working through the causes of weight-loss can allow us to arrest the underlying disease, if not reverse it, before too much body condition has been lost.
  4. Keeping a cat current on vaccinations allows their immune system to be ready when they encounter disease in their environment.

Don’t wait for your kitty to show that he is uncomfortable.  Don’t wait for you feline friend to act like she’s sick.  If we’re waiting for signs of illness, or if we’re waiting for them to cry out in pain, we’ll wait too long.  Many times the odds of recovery reduce with time when we wait for them to show symptoms.

Get in the routine of having your cat(s) examined by a veterinarian at least every 12 months, though semi-annual visits are best because cats age faster than we do.  Geriatric cats are especially good at appearing normal when they’re not.  If you take your cat to the veterinarian and he/she tells you that your cat looks great on examination, you’ve done a wonderful favor for your feline friend.

If your veterinarian finds something that he/she feels is worth pursuing, don’t hesitate to take a deeper look.  Your cat will thank you.

Remember, our goal is to help your cat enjoy a long, happy, and healthy life with you.

Comment on "The Sick Cat: A Master of Hiding Symptoms"

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