Chronic Renal Failure Chronic renal failure is one of the leading causes of death in older domestic cats.
Some cat diseases can only be recognized when it is almost too late. Others can kill the animal within a few days. It is all the more important to always take any changes that affect your cat seriously. An overview of the most dangerous cat diseases.
Chronic renal failure
Chronic kidney failure is one of the leading causes of death in older domestic cats. The tricky thing about her is that she often goes undetected for a long time. The first symptoms such as loss of appetite, increased drinking, vomiting, weight loss and fatigue usually only appear when more than two thirds of the original kidney function have been lost. The side effects of the disease are varied and can range from diarrhea and itching to high blood pressure and dehydration to seizures.
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Over 50 percent of cats diagnosed with chronic kidney failure are seven years or older. But animals that are only a few months old can also be affected. Certain breeds are particularly vulnerable, including Maine Coon, Abyssinian, Siamese, Russian Blue, and Burmese. Renal failure can be caused by an infection, an autoimmune disease, high blood pressure or poisoning. The treatment is primarily carried out by reducing the protein and phosphate content in the feed. There is special diet food for this. Side effects such as a rise in blood pressure or digestive disorders can be treated with medication.
The parvoviruses responsible for infection with cat disease are extremely resistant. In the animal’s feces, they can survive for at least six months at room temperature. “Even the tiniest amounts of feces are enough for an infection, which you carry into the apartment with your shoes,” says Dr. Michael Leschnik from VetmedUni Vienna. In this way you can become the carrier of the viruses yourself. The disease is usually severe. Apathy, fever, loss of appetite, vomiting, and diarrhea are just a few of the possible symptoms.
“A chance of survival is only given with maximum medical effort,” explains Leschnik. Without adequate treatment, it drops to ten percent. Severe diarrhea can lead to dehydration. Anemia can also occur, not least due to the excretion of blood in the faeces. Because the cells in the small intestine infected by the virus are destroyed, intestinal bacteria and toxins that are normally excreted can enter the bloodstream, which can sometimes result in blood poisoning.
Treatment measures include force-feeding and blood transfusions. Antibiotics are used to counteract the spread of bacteria. Infusions are designed to compensate for the loss of fluid. Due to the high risk of infection, sick animals must be separated from healthy ones.123essay Only by observing strict hygiene measures can other cats living in the household be prevented from becoming infected. Incidentally, the only reliable protection is vaccination.
Fibrosarcoma is a malignant skin tumor. It usually occurs between the shoulder blades or on the side of the abdomen and chest wall. It is particularly common in cats between eight and twelve years old. The fibrosarcoma is usually removed surgically. Sometimes part of the shoulder blades or even a rib has to be removed – depending on where the tumor is located. Limbs can also be affected.
Chemotherapy or radiation therapy can also be used to remove the tumor. However, these are usually not used as a single therapy, but in combination with the surgical intervention. The likelihood that the tumor will metastasize is quite low. On the other hand, the risk that a tumor will form again after removal is relatively high at up to 70 percent.
“Cat flu is a serious infectious disease. Although it is usually not fatal, it can cause problems for life,” warns the veterinarian. And then when it is not treated appropriately. An acute cold can develop into a chronic one. It is also possible that the cat goes blind, and the disease usually affects the eyes as well.
In addition to fever, sneezing, coughing, a rattling noise when breathing and a colorless to purulent-yellow secretion that emerges from the nose and eyes, reduced food consumption and apathetic behavior also indicate an illness. Since the excreted pathogens survive for several weeks and can be transmitted via clothing and objects, cats that live exclusively in the apartment should also be regularly vaccinated against cat flu.
So-called feline infectious peritonitis is one of the most common causes of death for cats. It is caused by the so-called feline coronavirus, which is harmless in itself. If infected, you will experience diarrhea or a fever, if any. But if the virus mutates, which is the case in around five to ten percent, the cat is doomed to certain death. Once the disease has broken out, life expectancy is only a few days to weeks.
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The symptoms are quite unspecific. Usually the animal is apathetic, no longer eats and consequently loses weight. In addition to vomiting and diarrhea, eye infections and shortness of breath can occur. Because the mutated virus can also attack the central nervous system, neurological symptoms are possible. An enlarged abdomen indicates effusions in the abdomen and chest. The virus can be transmitted through clothing and objects. There is a vaccination, but its effectiveness is highly controversial.
A household in which a cat with FIP has lived needs to be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after its death. Before bringing a new kitten home, you should wait at least three months. This is the only way to ensure that there are no more viruses and that infection is impossible. When bringing two or more cats together, care should be taken to never combine an animal that does not carry the virus with one that is positive.
“Older cats in particular often have heart problems,” says Leschnik. The most common heart disease diagnosed in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which causes the heart muscle to thicken. This often occurs in connection with an aortic thrombosis. Here, clots form, which sooner or later lead to the closure of the arteries in the hind legs or – in rarer cases – the front legs. Severe pain and paralysis of the corresponding extremities are the result.
Signs of cardiomyopathy can include loss of appetite, reluctance to move, difficult breathing, and panting. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms at all until the end of the disease, when fluid accumulates in the lungs or chest cavity. The medication given usually depends on the patient. Dehydration agents and preparations designed to counter the progression of the disease are usually used.
In contrast to humans, affected cats will always have an overactive thyroid, but never an underactive thyroid. One speaks here of the so-called hyperthyroidism. The metabolism is accelerated by the overproduction of thyroid hormones. The consequences are mostly weight loss despite increased appetite, increased drinking and, accordingly, increased urine output. The fur can be shaggy and fall out in places. Increased activity of the cat can also often be observed.
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Vomiting and diarrhea are also possible. Some affected cats also behave more aggressively than their healthy counterparts. Here and there, the disease also manifests itself through decreased appetite, indifference and panting. The overactive thyroid can also damage other organs. Treatment is with a drug that reduces the production of thyroid hormones. It is advisable to start with a low dose and gradually increase it if necessary.
Castrated and overweight animals are particularly susceptible to diabetes. Hangovers are more likely to be affected than cats. Certain breeds also seem more susceptible, including Siamese cats and Maine Coons. One of the most obvious symptoms of diabetes is increased drinking. Accordingly, the cat will also have to pass more urine. She may lose weight even though she is eating more than before. Hair loss, the formation of dandruff, and a dull coat are also signs of diabetes.
In contrast to type I diabetes, type II diabetes requires the administration of insulin. The disease becomes dangerous when so-called ketoacidosis – these are special metabolic products – accumulate in the blood. Signs of this are apathy, loss of appetite, increased drinking, and deep, hasty breathing. In this case, consult a veterinarian immediately. That said, if given the right treatment, a diabetic cat can live a long and good life.
An infection with the feline leukemia virus, FeLV for short, does not always lead to disease, i.e. the development of blood cancer. A large proportion of the infected cats manage to fight the virus successfully. If this is not the case, the viruses spread in the blood before they attack the bone marrow. At this point the disease can still be treated well. However, if viruses can still be detected after 16 weeks, the disease will persist for a lifetime. The probability that the animal will die within three to five years is 80 percent.
In some animals, the first symptoms do not appear until years after infection. These range from anemia, fever, shortness of breath, vomiting and diarrhea to neurological symptoms and tumor formation. Because the disease also weakens the immune system, infections that are harmless in themselves can become life-threatening. The virus is only transmitted through direct contact with an infected cat. But here it is often enough to sniff each other. There is a vaccination, but this leads to the development of tumors more often than others.
The infection with the feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV for short, usually occurs through a bite. Because uncastrated male cats are particularly prone to struggles, the disease is most common in them. The virus only survives a few seconds in the vicinity. The infection often goes undetected at first. The first symptoms usually only appear after years. However, they are not easy to assign. Among other things, it can lead to loss of appetite, weight loss and anemia.
Because the immune cells affected by the virus are no longer able to fend off harmless pathogens, the susceptibility of affected cats to other diseases increases – until the immune system finally collapses completely and the animal dies. Once sick, no more healing is possible. With good care, the cat can still reach a high age. It is advisable to keep the animal indoors to prevent infections. In this way you avoid other cats becoming infected with the FIV virus.
high blood pressure
High blood pressure can have several causes: As in humans, excitement can also lead to high blood pressure in cats. If the blood pressure is constantly high, various other diseases can be the reason. One speaks here of what is known as secondary hypertension. Possible underlying illnesses include diabetes, an overactive thyroid or kidney disease. Certain medications can also trigger high blood pressure.
First and foremost, it is important to find out whether the high blood pressure is due to another disease. If this is the case, it must be treated. If the high blood pressure is left untreated, the cat’s organs can be permanently damaged. The kidneys, heart, brain and eyes can be affected. Sometimes untreated hypertension can also lead to blindness in the cat.
The “Kosmos Praxishandbuch Katzenkrankheiten” can be found here.
The book “Katzenkrankheiten” can be found here.
The “Cat Diseases Quickfinder: What Is My Cat Missing?” you’ll find here.
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Dealing with Anton Chekhov’s dramas is one of the most challenging things that actors and directors can encounter: Here, the squaring of the circle is required, the transformation of boredom into atmosphere, from standstill into tension. The important Hungarian composer Peter Eötvös succeeds in doing this very well with his musical means: His much-praised setting of “Tri Sestri” (“Three Sisters”) is also an acclaimed success for the Vienna State Opera.
© Michael Poehn
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