Cat Health: May 2008 Archives


We all make fun of really fat cats. They are cute and lazy and we love them. But really fat cats are not happy, healthy cats. As a matter of fact, really fat cats are prone to diseases that can shorten their lives. Diabetes, hear disease, cancer, all those horrible diseases are much more common in really fat cats than in slimmer, healthier cats.

If you truly want your cat to slim down, there are several ways to help them that doesn't require starving them or buying a kitty treadmill. But don't expect weight loss to happen too quickly, cats can safely lose about 1lb per month. Any more than that and your cat might not be healthy.

So here is how you can help your really fat cat get healthy:

1. Switch from dry cat food to canned cat food is the first step. Dry cat food has been known to cause obesity because of its high grain and filler content and not enough protein.

2. Fresh water every day is a must. Your cat may not drink that much, but having a clean fresh bowl of water ready when your cat does decide to take a drink will be very helpful. Water helps keep tummies full so they don't eat as much, and it helps digestion so their bodies can absorb more nutrients.

3. Don't starve your cat, but if you leave the food in the bowl all day and let him come and eat whenever he wants, you might want to stop that. Some cats, like people, eat out of boredom, they'll wander by the food and take a bite or two even when they are not hungry. So having designated feeding times is a really good way to start limiting extra calories. Set the food out in the morning and again at night for 20-30 minutes each time. Cats seem to need to eat twice a day and they usually eat their fill within 20-30 minutes, so after that time has passed put the food away.


4. Get some exciting toys for your cat and play with him. Cats are very intelligent, and if they don't get stimulation regularly, they kind of show signs of depression. They don't get up and run around, just stare out the window and watch the world go by. But spending time playing with your cat and the new toys will go a long way to getting some much needed exercise for your cat (and you too!).

5. If you have to be away all day, leave your cat access to a window that overlooks a busy street or yard, cars, birds, and activity will keep your cat thinking about things other than food.

iStock_000004326828XSmall.jpgCats like Charley who have Cerebellar Hypoplasia are a result of not vaccinating for common feline diseases. Pregnant Queens who contract feline panleukopaenia (sometimes called feline infectious enteritis or feline distemper or feline ataxia) will often give birth to kittens with cerebellar hypolasia. But even with the vaccinations, sometimes the cerebellum in the kitten doesn't develop properly. If the mother was poisoned or injured during pregnancy, the condition could develop in her kittens. Cerebellar Hypoplasia often occurs in the kittens of stray or feral cats. Feral cats are never vaccinated, are considered a pest so they are poisoned and are victims of violent human behavior so they are often injured. So the chances of a feral kitten being born with Cerebellar Hypoplasia is very high. It shows up right away when you see the kitten trying to move with its jerky movements. So out of fear, or ignorance, these kittens are destroyed because the humans who find them think they are diseased. But they are not, as we saw with Charley, they are perfectly normal, happy cats, who simply have spastic movements.

What was once the leading cause of death in cats has come under control through effective vaccines. Some vets don't vaccinate for panleukopenia any more because there hasn't been a reported case in their area for years. But that is not the case every where, even though the vaccines are effective, not every cat gets vaccinated and the potential for spreading this deadly disease is still a problem. It is very common amongst outdoor cats, strays and feral cat colonies.

Feline panleukopenia (sometimes called feline infectious enteritis or feline distemper or feline ataxia) is a highly infectious disease that can infect your cat even without close contact with a diseased cat. The virus stays alive and active in the blood, stool, or even the fleas from infected cats. But the biggest threat is the virus can be transmitted to your cats from bedding, cages, clothing or even if the cats dig in the same soil as an infected cat.


Feline panleukopenia attacks rapidly dividing cells, such as in bone marrow, intestines and in a developing fetus. The bone marrow is responsible for red and white blood cell production - lack of red blood cells causes anemia and lack of white blood cells compromises the cat's immune system. A lack of cells in the intestinal walls will mean the cat's digestion system is weakened and they will not be able to eat or drink properly. Often they will vomit or have a bloody stool. If the cat is pregnant and survives, the kittens will likely develop Cerebellar Hypoplasia. An infected cat will become anemic and the immune system will be weakened. This means that the cat will become infected with other illnesses so the symptoms of feline panleukopenia are hard to identify.

If you see any of the following symptoms in your cat, get him to a vet as soon as possible. Often cats can hide their illnesses so by the time you notice anything is wrong, it could be too late to save your cat. But watch for these signs:

fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, nasal discharge, dehydration

When a cat comes in contact with the virus that causes feline panleukopenia the result is usually death. Preventing the infection is far more effective than treating an infected cat so get your cats vaccinated against feline panleukopenia.

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Yesterday, you met Charley, the domestic cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. He is such a sweet cat, it's so sad that many cats like Charley are destroyed because people don't understand what it is.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is when the cerebellum is not completely developed at birth. The Cerebellum is the area of the brain that controls motor function (movement) and sensory perception (usually affecting sight) Cats with Cerebellar Hypoplasia have difficulty walking, and have generally uncoordinated movements. They have tremors in their limbs that get faster when they are excited and tend to slow when they are at rest.

Affected cats generally don't grow into large cats and they may be slower to grow and develop. But they learn to adapt to their disability. Often cats with Cerebellar Hypoplasia are still able to run and jump and climb, but with jerky movements. They will have more falls and more accidents so its best if these kittens are kept indoors.

They live long healthy lives. So if your kitten displays symptoms like Charley, talk to your vet, you'll see that there is no need to destroy the kitten.

This is the amazing story of Charley the domestic cat with Cerebellar Hypoplasia. Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a development disorder that effects Charley's motor skills. While he may not move like a normal cat, he lives a normal life and seems to be an absolutely fun loving cat. Go Charley!

You've seen this guy here before, Dr. Greg McDonald has tips for cleaning your cats teeth, but this time he is showing you how to check for sickness in cats from fleas. Anemia can kill your cat. If you suspect your cat has fleas, check his gums, if they are bright pink, your cat's fine, if they are a pale pink or white, your cat has lost too much blood and may need a transfusion.

Because fleas cause illnesses that can kill your cat (see my previous post called sickness in cats from fleas) its a good idea to check your cats regularly. Unless you check, you may not even know your cat has fleas until it's too late.

I thought my vet was crazy when he checked Neo for fleas, because

If you suspect a sickness in your cats from fleas, consult your Vet immediately because fleas can kill! They don't all attack at once, and then your cat is dead. But rather over a short span of time, they can suck enough blood from your cat that your cats is weakened and can die. If your cat is seriously infested with fleas, the death is a slow and painful one, so please get treatment quickly.


This is the part that is a little scary, you may not even know that your cat has fleas. Fleas irritate the skin but unless there is an allergy to the flea bite, you won't see your cat scratching. Your cat could be dying and you won't even know it!

Common sickness in cats from fleas include Dermatitis, Anemia, Parasites, and Tapeworm. All potentially life-threatening for your cat.


Dermatitis - itchy, irritated skin caused by allergies to flea bites. This only shows up if your cat has an allergy, or if the infestation is really, really bad.

Anemia - loss of blood causes sickness in cats from fleas. Your cat gets weak and lethargic, but by this time it could be too late to reverse the damage. Your vet might have to do a blood transfusion to save your cat.

Parasites - Fleas are parasites, but they carry other parasites that get into your cat's blood and cause a life threatening condition called Feline Infectious Anemia.

Tapeworms - Fleas can also cause a tapeworm infection by carrying tapeworm eggs from an infected animal to your cat.

Check your cat every time he comes in from outside and see your Vet if you suspect fleas!

Other posts I think you might be into:

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See a 400 lbs African Lion hug and kiss his rescuer!

These ringtones will drive your cat crazy...

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