Cats are vulnerable to various health issues that can have a significant impact on their health and well-being. Regardless of whether you have an indoor,p or indoor-outdoor cat, you should be familiar with common diseases and medical issues that can affect your pet. Early detection is important so you can seek veterinary attention immediately.
What is the life expectancy of an indoor cat?
There has been numerous evidence showing that indoor cats have a longer lifespan than their outdoor counterparts. Indoor cats have been known to live up to 17 years of age or more compared to the average lifespan of outdoor cats which is only 2-5 years.
What diseases do cats have?
Diseases that affect cats in Singapore can be categorized into infectious and non-infectious. The most common cat diseases in Singapore include the following:
1. Skin and Hair Coat Problems
- Bacterial or viral infections-- When cats fight, there is a possibility that bite wounds can become infected. A cat’s mouth is filled with lots of bacteria that can be injected to other cats when they bite during a fight. The problem with bite wounds is that they can hardly be noticed and the entry of the wound usually seals up within a day or two. However, deep under the skin, bacteria multiply and form an abscess which appears as a swelling under the skin that is filled with pus. This is what you call ‘cat bite abscess’. Aside from bite wounds, there are also many contagious cat diseases that are caused by bacteria or virus.
- Fungal Infections -- These include ringworm and yeast infections. Take note that ringworm is very contagious and zoonotic. This means that it can easily be transferred from cats to humans and other pets.
- Fleas and ticks --The warm and humid climate of Singapore is very favorable to the breeding and thriving of fleas and ticks which are the most common external parasites of cats. Even if your cat is confined indoors, flea and tick preventatives should always be considered. Cats are extra-sensitive to certain medications thus it is always recommended that you consult your veterinarian for a safe and effective preventative for your kitty.
- Environmental Allergies-- Some cats are allergic to pollen, dust, mold, and other allergens that are present in the environment. While these are mostly seasonal allergies, the heat and humidity of Singapore create ideal conditions for year-round flowering of pollinating trees, plants, and grasses, which can also mean a year-round problem with environmental allergies in pets.
- Food Allergies--When a cat is allergic to a certain ingredient in his pet food, he can develop gastrointestinal upsets, such as vomiting and/or diarrhea. Skin problems may also be present.
- Medication-- Adverse reaction to certain medications is also a common problem of cats in Singapore. This is usually linked to the use of over-the-counter medications without any advice from a veterinarian.
- Flea dermatitis -- This type of allergic reaction is caused by flea bites. Some cats are hypersensitive to an allergen that is in flea saliva. Once bitten by a flea, allergic cats can suffer from intense itching and discomfort.
3. Gastrointestinal Problems
This is a common problem among cats in Singapore. Vomiting is not actually a disease, rather it is an important symptom of a multitude of health issues that may include ingestion of something toxic or inedible, infection, hairballs, urinary tract disease, and diabetes, among others. Cats that are vomiting can quickly become dehydrated thus you should call your veterinarian right away.
Diarrhea can be triggered by infectious or non-infectious causes. It’s an important symptom of digestive upsets brought about by primary health issues or problems with pet food. Frequent and persistent diarrhea should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian ASAP since it can increase your pet’s risk to serious dehydration which can be deadly if not corrected immediately.
4. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
FLUTD is a general term that is used to include several feline diseases that affect the lower urinary tract of cats. The problem is more common in overweight or obese cats, those with underlying health issues, or cats on dry food or kibble. Other important predisposing factors of FLUTD in cats include exposure to stressful conditions, a multi-cat household, and sudden changes in the cat's immediate environment. The treatment depends to a large extent on the type of FLUTD the cat has.
Precaution: A cat that is unable to urinate should always be considered a medical emergency. Bring your pet to your vet immediately if you think he has a urinary tract issue.
There is a long list of infectious diseases in cats that is caused by viruses and bacteria. The 2 most common viral infections that affect their upper respiratory tract are feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus. These viral infections are among the top contagious cat diseases thus it's important to keep your pet's vaccinations updated. Viruses can easily be transmitted through shared food or water bowls, sneezing, or grooming tools. Bacterial pathogens are common secondary invaders of viral infections. Two important predisposing factors of upper respiratory tract infections are stress and overcrowding. Cats with flat faces, like Persian cats, tend to be more susceptible to acquiring the infection.
How does an indoor cat get a viral infection?
There are several ways by which an indoor cat can get a viral infection. These include the following routes:
- Direct contact
- Inhalation of virus-laden aerosols released into the air when an ill cat sneezes or coughs
- Exposure to virus-contaminated items such as toys, food and water bowls, bedding, grooming tools, etc.
Many cats have some form of tooth and gum problems by the time they are about 3 years of age. Cats on a high-carbohydrate diet tend to accumulate more plaque that eventually hardens into tartar. Without regular dental visits to the vet, the build-up of plaque and tartar can pave the way for gingivitis (inflammation of the gums), tooth decay, and bad breath. Having a good home dental regimen, like regular tooth brushing, and dental checks with your vet. Professional cleaning can help prevent periodontal disease.
Dental problems should be nipped in the bud as early as possible because bacteria from any infection inside the mouth can spread to other major organs of the body via the bloodstream and cause heart problems, damage to the kidneys, liver issues, etc.
Intestinal Parasites -- Worms In Cats’ Poop
Cats that spend time outdoors are more prone to acquiring parasites than indoor-only cats. However, there is still a big possibility that indoor cats can get worms, too, which means regular deworming should be done regardless of whether your cat is confined indoors or allowed to go outside the house. The most common intestinal parasites of cats include roundworms and tapeworms. During heavy infestations, you may find worms in the cat’s poop.
Urinary Tract Disease
The problem affects the bladder and urethra of cats. It is often associated with low-grade, chronic dehydration, bacterial infection, as well as consuming pet food with high ash and mineral content. This is a very common problem in cats due to their dislike of water.
What is the most common cause of death in cats?
In Singapore, the most common cause of death in cats is high-rise syndrome. Cats living in high-rise buildings can fall off and suffer severe injuries, fractures, and bleeding. Some falls leave cats paralyze because of spinal injuries while for some, the fall can result in death.
Pet owners should always keep in mind that sudden illness in cats or any change in the health and/or behavior of pet cats should be brought to the attention of your veterinarian sooner rather than later.