You may remember a post on this blog about Howie, my adorable cream and white cat that I adopted at 12 weeks old. By two years old, he was still as active as a kitten, always pouncing, running, and playing! I never would have suspected that he had a heart condition. It was only when I was giving him his annual physical exam that I noticed a concerning heart murmur. After acting quickly and getting Howie an echocardiogram, I was able to diagnose Howie with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a condition where the heart has trouble pumping blood. This condition is often undiagnosed until it’s too late.
Fast forward to the present day. Howie was diagnosed in 2013 at the age of two years with Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, a very serious heart disease in cats. Today, Howie is still doing great! He has been on daily medication since his diagnosis, but he runs and plays and has no idea he has a serious disease. I am thankful to have discovered it early–before he went into heart failure. I firmly believe that is why he is still with me today.
An Annual Physical Exam is Important for Kitties of Any Age!
Howie was only two years old when we discovered his heart condition. Although many people think that only older pets need regular trips to the vet, it’s important that cats of all ages have an annual physical exam! Our cats can’t tell us when something’s wrong. In fact, cats–being the stoic creatures they are–will often hide signs of discomfort until the problem is advanced. While you may be aware of the problems that can develop in old age, there are also many things to look out for while your kitten is still young, including:
- Ear mites: this is a common problem that is easily fixed. Ear mites are parasites that live in the ear canal. If you notice that your kitten has a dark earwax resembling coffee grounds with ears that are itchy and smelly, bring them in right away! This is especially important, as ear mites can spread to other pets, and, in worst case scenarios, can cause an infection that, if left untreated, can result in your cat losing their hearing.
- Fleas: this is another common problem that can spread to other pets but can also be easily remedied. The risk to young kittens is that unchecked fleas could cause life-threatening anemia.
- Worms: roundworms are intestinal parasites that can cause vomiting, diarrhea, and pneumonia. Hookworms and heartworms are less common, but they can also cause serious trouble for a young kitten.
- Feline Viral Rhinopneumonitis: also known as “feline herpes”, this is a common upper respiratory infection in cats. This virus is extremely contagious, so if you have other cats in the household, it’s important that your new kitten is tested for Feline Viral Rhinopneumonitis. Symptoms are heavy sneezing, eye discharge, eye lesions, fever, lethargy, and loss of appetite.
- Conjunctivitis: this is when a kitten’s eye becomes swollen with a watery discharge. Conjunctivitis is contagious, but it is also easily treatable.
Get More Advice and Help after You Adopt a Cat for the First Time from the Catonsville Cat Clinic!
For 20 years, the Catonsville Cat Clinic has been providing quality veterinary care to the cats of Catonsville and beyond! Dr. Pam Nesbitt–purchased the practice in July 2011–runs the Catonsville Cat Clinic with compassion in mind. A team of professionals with an advanced level of veterinary medicine is at your service to make sure your cat is healthy and happy. So stop on by–we’d love to get to know you and your cat!
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