Fear Free Feline Thursdays
Many of our older feline friends can suffer from diseases such as chronic kidney disease, hypertension and hyperthyroidism. Unfortunately, cats are the masters of disguise and we often don’t see any signs of these diseases until they are quite far progressed. By the time the cats are vomiting, losing weight or just ‘not themselves’ it is much harder to get on top of the diseases with effective treatments.
In order to diagnose these problems early we need to be proactive and we are offering a new clinic at Spring Corner Vets Poole to try and achieve this.
On a Thursday there will be an opportunity to bring your feline friend into the surgery to see one of our nurses who will give your cat a check over. If you could bring a urine sample with you that would be fantastic as well (if you have trouble doing this feel free to ring either of our branches and we would be happy to give you some advice!). The nurse will check your cats weight, body condition score, heart rate, teeth and urine – all of which can give us vital clues about your older cat’s health! If the nurse is happy she will advise popping back in 3-6months, depending on your cats age, for another check. If they have any concerns they will advise a follow up consult with a vet on site who may advise blood tests or a blood pressure measurement. We will only see cats at these clinics so there will be no barking dogs in the waiting room, stressing out your pet!
For more information about the diseases we are concerned about, please see below:
Chronic kidney disease
Chronic kidney disease (CKD) is very prevalent in our older feline patients with more than 30% over the age of 15 affected. Most are picked up because they don’t want to eat, are vomiting, have diarrhoea, have lost weight or are drinking and urinating excessively. In order to diagnose this we need both a urine and a blood sample. By the time we are seeing clinical signs, however, the damage to the kidneys is very severe. Unfortunately, most of the time we never know what has caused the CKD so there is no definitive treatment to cure the problem. HOWEVER, one of the best indicators that the kidneys may not be working effectively is a test on the urine to see how concentrated it is. Subtle weight loss can also be a sign of an issue.
The only treatment that has been shown to improve longevity of our cats with CKD is sole feeding of a renal diet. This is much easier to introduce if the disease is diagnosed early, before the cat feels rubbish and doesn’t want to eat any more (we all know they can be very picky!). The sooner we can introduce the diet, the more of the kidney we can potentially protect from further damage and hopefully prolong a good quality of life. We also have some tactics up our sleeves to encourage your cat to eat the new food!
Therefore, if one of our nurses identifies a problem with the urine at your check up they are likely to advise you see a vet for further investigations – the sooner the better!
Hyperthyroidism is another disease that as a cat owner you are likely to have heard of. It can cause profound weight loss despite eating a lot, a poor quality coat, erratic behaviour and urinating and drinking more. It essentially means the cats metabolism is far too fast! Although they look bright and well and are eating, humans report that they feel rubbish with this disease and we can assume that cats do too!
Signs that a cat may be suffering from this can be a lump in the throat area, a very fast heart rate with a certain rhythm, and weight loss.
Cats with hyperthyroidism can often be cured with either surgery or medical treatment, however before this can occur we need to stabilise the cat with medication. Just like our patients with chronic kidney disease this is much easier to achieve if we catch the disease early. A simple blood test tells us if the levels of thyroid hormone are too high and a nurse may recommend this test if they have any concerns at the clinic.
High blood pressure can occur because of both CKD and hyperthyroidism and if we diagnose one of these diseases in your cat we will take a blood pressure measurement to see if we need to give medication to lower it. High blood pressure can result in damage to certain organs, including the eyes, and make the prognosis of the diseases worse. Cats can also get high blood pressure for no reason whatsoever so sometimes we will recommend having a measurement taken if we are concerned, even if there is no identifiable underlying disease. High blood pressure can occur due to a stressful environment so in order to get an accurate reading we like to measure it in as calm an environment as possible. At our cat clinics at Poole we only see cats and it is a quiet and peaceful surgery with nurses that are well used to handling our sometimes fractious feline friends.
We hope to see you at one of our feline friendly clinics soon!