Symptoms and Causes of Nausea in Cats

Nausea in cats is a very common condition. It can occur on its own or just prior to the act of vomiting. In humans, nausea is also referred to as “feeling sick to your stomach” or “queasy” and is associated with a feeling of discomfort and unease in the stomach. In cats, nausea is harder to define, as animals can’t tell you they feel unwell. In many occasions, it is unclear that there is an issue until the cat vomits. The most common symptoms of nausea in cats are lack of appetite, licking, excessive chewing, hypervocalization (excessive meowing), restlessness, and drooling. Nausea can make cats feel uncomfortable and restless. Some cats will pace around while meowing while others will lie in the same spot drooling.

Overview of Feline Nausea

Nausea is a nonspecific symptom, which means there are many different possible causes. These causes can include an upset stomach, changes in diet, eating something indigestible, eating too fast, overeating, eating something that is spoiled or unpleasant, licking something with an unpleasant taste (such as cleaning chemicals or topical flea prevention products), motion sickness, and certain medications.

A number of diseases or conditions can also cause nausea in cats, especially disorders of the gastrointestinal system (stomach and/or intestines). Nausea can be secondary to a disease from a different system such as cancer, kidney failure, diabetes, or various infectious diseases. This can make the diagnosis of the cause of the nausea a challenge.

At one time or another, your cat may have a bout of vomiting before which he probably had a period of nausea. Vomiting may be a sign of a very minor problem or it may be a sign of something very serious.

An occasional, infrequent, isolated episode of nausea with or without vomiting is usually normal and not a reason for major concern.

The severity or concurrence of other signs will determine the specific diagnostic tests your vet will recommend. Important considerations include the duration and frequency of the nausea. If your cat vomits once then eats normally with no further vomiting, has a normal bowel movement, and acts playful, the problem may resolve on its own. If nausea and vomiting continue after your cat eats your cat acts lethargic or doesn’t want to eat, then medical attention is warranted.

Nausea in Cats – What to Watch For:

Signs of nausea in cats often include:

Nausea may also be associated with:

  •  Vomiting
  •  Dry heaving
  •  Dehydration due to persistent vomiting
  •  Abnormal behavior or physical abnormalities associated with prolonged vomiting including lethargy (reluctance to move), abdominal pain, diarrhea, weight loss, blood in the vomit, or other unexpected physical changes

Diagnosis of Nausea in Cats

Administering the optimal therapy for any serious or persistent medical condition depends on establishing the correct diagnosis. There are numerous potential causes of nausea and subsequent vomiting and before any treatment can be recommended, it is important to identify the underlying cause and direct the initial therapy towards resolving it.

Diagnostic measures and tests may include:

  • A review of your cat’s complete medical history and a physical examination, including abdominal palpation. The medical history assessment will most likely include questions regarding vaccination history, diet, appetite, general health, presence and character of vomitus (frequency, progression, presence of blood, duration of vomiting), weight loss, past medical problems, medication history and presence of other gastrointestinal signs such as vomiting and/or diarrhea.
  • Your veterinarian may recommend a variety of laboratory tests including a complete blood count (CBC), a serum biochemical panel, and a urinalysis.
  • Fecal examination (to determine the presence of parasites or blood).
  • Plain radiography (X-rays) or contrast X-rays (X-rays performed after your cat is given a contrast material such as barium or aqueous iodine), which can help determine the cause of the vomiting.
  • Ultrasonography is an imaging technique that allows visualization of abdominal structures by recording reflection (echoes) of inaudible sound waves to determine the size and shape of abdominal organs, it can also detect changes in the consistency or texture of organs.
  • Endoscopy may be useful for diagnosis or to remove foreign bodies in the stomach. Endoscopy can also be used for examination of the stomach and a portion of the intestine and to potentially obtain biopsies of abnormal areas noted during the exam.

Treatment of Nausea in Cats

Common treatments for feline nausea may include one or more of the following:

  • A primary strategy is eliminating the predisposing cause (such as a change in diet), eating plants, overeating, eating too fast, ingesting chemicals including flea prevention medications, etc.). Patients who eat too quickly or overeat can be treated by feeding small portions at a time, sometimes with the use of feeders designed to slow eating.
  • An acute episode of nausea with or without vomiting in a playful cat, in the absence of other physical abnormalities, may be treated symptomatically without hospitalization (outpatient treatment). This treatment may consist of subcutaneous fluids, injectable drugs used to control nausea and vomiting (anti-emetics), and a follow-up appointment if the symptoms are not resolved immediately. A drug commonly used to treat nausea is Maropitant (commonly known by the brand name Cerenia).  This drug comes in both injectable and oral forms. Many times a cat is given an injection and sent home with the oral pills.
  • Cats that have abdominal pain, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, or have any other unusual symptoms or behaviors may be treated with hospitalization. This therapy may include intravenous fluid administration, 24-hour monitoring, and drug therapy. It is often combined with diagnostic testing to determine the cause of the vomiting.
  • Sick cats may require referral to an emergency or 24-hour hospital that offers around-the-clock care.

Learn more about what you can do at home for the vomiting cat.

How to Find Full Coverage Pet Insurance

It is very easy to find full pet insurance coverage. However, in order to find full pet insurance coverage, it is important to understand what type of coverage pet insurance provides for our dogs and cats.  Pet insurance plans were designed to cover unexpected and unplanned accidents and illnesses. With the rising costs of pet healthcare, having pet insurance and full pet insurance coverage can ensure that pet owners can provide both important and costly medical care for their dogs and cats.

Full pet insurance or comprehensive pet insurance coverage typically includes both accidents and illnesses and can include: breed and congenital conditions, chronic conditions, cancer, exam fees, alternative therapies and rehabilitation, behavioral therapies, ER and specialist care, hospitalization and surgeries.

The majority of comprehensive pet insurance plans are designed for unplanned accidents and illnesses and don’t cover general pet wellness visits. This is one-way pet health insurance differs from human health. However, many pet insurance plans offer wellness plans, as a stand-alone plan or as an add-on, to provide you with the most comprehensive pet insurance coverage.

Wellness plans typically cover wellness visits and can include: vaccinations, flea/tick prevention, microchipping, blood tests, deworming, etc.  Additionally, almost all of the pet insurance companies and pet insurance policies allow you to visit any licensed veterinarian.

What Does Pet Health Insurance Cover: The Basics.

Pet health insurance is a unique insurance designed to reimburse pet owners for unexpected veterinary fees and related expenses for vet provided health services. There are three main types of pet health insurance coverage:

  • Accident: Coverage for veterinary treatment for unexpected injuries.
  • Illness: Coverage to treat sickness, disease and any changes to your pet’s normal healthy state.
  • Wellness: (also called Routine or Preventive Care) which may include vaccinations, tests, and dental work. This is also sometimes called “Routine” or “Preventative” care.

Here is a sample coverage list. These areas include all three plan levels mentioned above. Note: coverage will vary by plan options and the pet insurance provider.

  • Accidents and injuries
  • Illnesses
  • Veterinary exam fees
  • Imaging – mri, cat scan, ultrasound
  • Diagnostic treatments
  • Prescription medications
  • Cancer treatments
  • Non-routine dental treatments
  • Surgery and rehabilitation
  • Some alternative therapies
  • Behavioral therapies
  • Loss due to theft
  • Advertising and reward
  • Boarding fees
  • Death from illness or injury
  • Vacation cancellation

What’s  Not Covered by Pet Insurance

There are exclusions in every plan and they will vary by provider. It is important to research the exclusion area of any policy for any potential pet insurance plan or provider. You can often find a complete list of exclusions in the terms and conditions section for each pet insurance provider. Below are some samples of potential exclusions:

  • Routine veterinary care
  • Pre-existing conditions
  • Breeding, whelping, and pregnancy
  • Injury caused deliberately by you or any other person residing in your home
  • Injury or illness resulting from fighting, racing, cruelty, or neglect
  • Cosmetic procedures such as tail docking, ear cropping, and dew claw removal unless medically necessary
  • DNA testing or cloning
  • Stem cell therapy not deemed medically necessary
  • Avian flu or nuclear War

What Does Pet Health Insurance Cost

The cost of pet insurance can vary greatly based on the provider and some other important factors. These factors, listed below, can have a big impact on the cost of your pet insurance plan.

  • Location
  • Pet Species
  • Pet’s Breed
  • Pet’s Age
  • Desired Coverage

The average cost of pet insurance tends to be higher for dogs, older animals, and larger animals. Typically in North America, pet insurance for dogs can range from $25-$70 and $10-40 for cats per month.

According to NAPHIA (North American Pet Insurance Association), the industry averages for  monthly plan costs by type and pet are as follows:

Accident Only Plans:

  • Dogs: $14.03
  • Cats: $12.46

Accident and Illness Plans:

  • Dogs: $43.14
  • Cats: $26.77

Additional Tips For Buying Full Coverage Pet Insurance

Enroll Your Pet  When They Are Young – This is one of the best ways to lower the cost of pet insurance. When your pet is young they are less likely to have any pre-existing conditions or any other health issues that might not be covered by pet insurance.

Pick The Coverage and Plan That Is Right For You – Most providers offer a variety of plans and customization options. Explore these areas based on your needs and the needs of your pet –  today and in the future.

Select A Credible Provider – Take the time to research multiple pet insurance providers. Explore how long they’ve been in business and read any customer reviews you can find. You’ll want an experienced and trusted provider with good reviews and ethical customer service practices.

Factors to Consider Before You Compare Pet Insurance Policies

According to NAPHIA (North American Pet Health Insurance Association), close to 1.8 million pets were insured by the end of 2016 in North America. Approximately 1.6 million pets were insured in the United States and approximately 220,000 pets were insured in Canada. This represents an 11.5% growth in insured pets from 2015. There are currently 12 major pet insurance companies in North America, but the number of companies is expected to grow. This means that there are many options for you to compare pet insurance policies.

Pet Ownership Is On The Rise

Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). This is up from 56 percent of U.S. households in 1988, the first year the survey was conducted.

Currently, it is estimated that less than 1% of North America’s dogs and cats are insured. This number is quite low compared to other countries. For example, the UK reports about 25% of their dogs and cats as having pet insurance and Sweden is at over 30%.

However, in the United States, each year the number of insured pets continues to grow and more and more pet owners will explore pet insurance and will need to compare pet insurance companies and compare pet insurance plans to find the right company and plan for their fur family member.

Factors to Consider Before You Compare Pet Insurance?

With over 12 pet insurance companies, the prospect of finding and comparing pet insurance companies and comparing pet insurance plans can seem complicated. The good news is that it is actually not that complicated. We’ve created the following tips that should help you compare pet insurance and help you find the plan that is right for your pet and your family.

#1.  Know the Players  – Research all the available companies and plans to understand the details and differences. A simple “pet insurance” google search will provide the majority of players or you could visit this article: The Pet Insurance Providers In North America.

#2. Compare Pet Insurance Providers – Start a comparison chart to do a side-by-side comparison of pet insurance companies based on the key factors that impact your plan, coverage and costs. These details include: plans, premiums, deductibles, co-pays, sample reimbursements and plan details, including exclusions and any additional features.

#3 Research What’s Covered and What’s Not – Many plans may have exclusions or things that are not covered, which can impact your plan costs and coverage when you submit a claim. The top exclusion categories include: pre-existing conditions, hereditary conditions, congenital conditions, or conditions related to breeding.

#4 Pick A Plan For You and Your Pet – Determine what’s most important for you and your pet. Many providers offer custom plans that allow you to build options based on annual limits, deductibles and copay options. Research your pet’s breed and talk to your vet about breed-related health issues and your pet’s health history. Explore all the plan options for accidents, illnesses and wellness care.

#5 Compare Cost and Value – Compare the plan options based on your pet’s needs. Explore any details around deductible – are they per incident or annual? How do these factors impact your choice and cost? Most providers have quick quote tools that make getting this information simple.

#6 Get To Know The Company – How long has the company been in business, how many pets do they insure?  Search for company reviews and find out what others have to say about the company and plans. Look for the most recent reviews to ensure accurate details on the current plans and customer experiences.

#7 Explore Discounts – Many companies offer discounts and there are also discounts when you enroll multiple pets. Does your employer offer pet insurance?  Many employers are now offering pet insurance as part of your benefits package and there may be group discounts.

#8 Start When Pets are Young and Healthy – The age of your pet and current health status play an important role in costs coverage. The younger the pet typically means lower costs and less limitations for pre-existing conditions.

How To Find Full Pet Insurance Coverage

It is very easy to find full pet insurance coverage. However, in order to find full pet insurance coverage, it is important to understand what type of coverage pet insurance provides for our dogs and cats.  Pet insurance plans were designed to cover unexpected and unplanned accidents and illnesses. With the rising costs of pet healthcare, having pet insurance and full pet insurance coverage can ensure that pet owners can provide both important and costly medical care for their dogs and cats.

How to Transition to Managing Old Cat Behavior

Today you can expect your cat to live a longer life than in the past. While some cats live into their twenties, most cats live to be 16 or 17 years of age.

Cats are like people. We are all unique and not all of us will age at the same rate. Your cat may begin to display old cat behavior as early as 7 years of age or as late as 10 years of age – most will change by age 12 at the latest.

What is old cat behavior and how will you be best prepared to manage it?

Normal aging brings about changes in behavior. Old cat behavior includes being less active, playing less, sleeping more, grooming less, eating less heartily, and reacting less to surrounding events. Older cats may experience a disturbance in sleep patterns or disorientation. Suddenly your older cat begins forgetting previously learned behaviors, like the location of the litter box. These changes can cause a lot of anxiety and your cat may react in many different ways. Your cat may begin to display aggression or change its social relationships with other household members.

Feline cognitive dysfunction or FCD can begin as early as 11 years of age, affecting memory, sight, hearing and much more. Typical signs of FCD can be described by the acronym DISH.

  • D – Disorientation – Your senior cat may wander aimlessly and appear lost or confused at times. He may fail to recognize family members.
  • I – Reduced Social Interactions – Your cat may no longer greet people warmly or seek their attention as often.
  • S – Changes in Sleep-Wake Cycle – Your cat may sleep more during the daytime but wander aimlessly at night, perhaps crying out.
  • H – Loss of House Training – Breakdown of house training can occur because your cat forgets where the litter box is, or is no longer concerned about personal hygiene.

To learn more about old cat behavior, go to Behavior of the Senior Cat.

Why Increased Urination in Cats Happens

As our cat’s age, they tend to urinate more often, and sometimes they urinate outside the litter box. Incontinence or weak bladder is age-related. The bladder weakens with age, resulting in more frequent urination. Essentially, your cat will urinate as soon as pressure builds up in the bladder – and often, that can mean urinating outside the litter box.

Increased urination in cats is normal with age. It often results from diseases that are common to aging felines, like kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Increased urination in cats is often an early sign of diabetes in older or overweight cats. But don’t just assume that your cat’s more frequent urination is a sign of old age. If you have concerns, see your veterinarian. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, or kidney disease.

More frequent urination will cause the litter box to become soiled more quickly. Many cats will stop using the litter box when they encounter a buildup of soil or odor. So increased urination in cats often means urinating outside the litter box. To help keep your cat from urinating outside the litter box, make sure to keep the litter box as clean as possible. Clean the litter box daily, or more often if necessary. To learn more about dealing with a cat urinating outside the litter box, go to How Do You Deal with a Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box.

Arthritis is another condition that can contribute to urinating outside the litter box. Older cats can suffer from arthritis pain that makes it difficult for them to access the litter box. When this happens, they will simply find an “easier” place to go. Get a litter box with lower sides that is more easily accessible to your older cat.

If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, here are some things that you can try. Increase the number of litter boxes in your house. Make sure there’s one on every floor in case your cat is experiencing discomfort going up and down the stairs. Put the new litter boxes in areas where your cat can easily find them. Many cats also have trouble getting into and out of the litter box when they get older, so use litter boxes that have low sides. To learn more about increased urination in cats, go to Why Increased Urination Happens in Cats.

Here’s Why Your Cat Wants Attention More Often

Sometimes an older cat can become more needy. If your senior cat wants attention more often, she can show it in many different ways. Your cat may become more vocal. She may follow you around or brush up against your legs. If you are working at the computer or reading the newspaper, she may sit in front of the computer screen or on the keyboard, or she may jump up and sit on top of your newspaper. Essentially she is saying look at me! Pay attention to me!

Why Increased Urination in Cats Happens

Often the most important aspect of helping your cat is detecting any problems at an early stage when treatment is more likely to be successful. Cats are masters at masking signs of illness, pain and other problems. This is especially true with changes in cat urination frequency. Increased urination in cats can happen at any age and for many reasons. However, if your cat is urinating more than usual it can be a symptom of several serious diseases or conditions.

Conditions That May Cause Increased Urination in Cats

Your cat may have a urinary tract infection, which is painful and uncomfortable for your cat. Increased urination in cats can be caused by diabetes or kidney failure. To learn more about kidney failure, go to Chronic Kidney Failure in Cats.

Hyperthyroidism is also a cause of increased urination in cats. Your cat’s metabolism speeds up, which impacts the kidneys. This condition causes increased thirst, which leads to increased urination. While hyperthyroidism can be diagnosed in cats from age 4 to age 20+, the disease is most often seen in older cats. In fact, 95 percent of cats diagnosed with hyperthyroidism are at least 8 years of age. To learn more about hyperthyroidism, go to Hyperthyroidism in Cats.

Only your veterinarian can determine the reason for increased urination in cats, so see your veterinarian as soon as possible.

Older Cats and Increased Urination

Increased urination in cats can also be a sign of old age. As cats get older it becomes harder for them to maintain bladder control. As our cats age, they tend to urinate more often, and they don’t always make it to the litter box. Sometimes they urinate outside the litter box. Incontinence or weak bladder is age related. The bladder weakens with age, resulting in more frequent urination. Essentially, your cat will urinate as soon as pressure builds up in the bladder – and often, that can mean urinating outside the litter box.

Increased urination in cats is normal with age. It often results from diseases that are common to aging felines, like kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or diabetes. Increased urination in cats is often an early sign of diabetes in older or overweight cats. But don’t just assume that your cat’s more frequent urination is a sign of old age. If you have concerns, see your veterinarian. Your cat could be suffering from a urinary tract infection or bladder infection, or kidney disease.

The Litter Box and Increased Urination

More frequent urination will cause the litter box to become soiled more quickly. Many cats will stop using the litter box when they encounter a buildup of soil or odor. So increased urination in cats often means urinating outside the litter box. To help keep your cat from urinating outside the litter box, make sure to keep the litter box as clean as possible. Clean the litter box daily, or more often if necessary. To learn more about dealing with a cat urinating outside the litter box, go to How Do You Deal with a Cat Urinating Outside the Litter Box.

Arthritis is another condition that can contribute to urinating outside the litter box. Older cats can suffer from arthritis pain that makes it difficult for them to access the litter box. When this happens, they will simply find an “easier” place to go. Get a litter box with lower sides that is more easily accessible to your older cat.

If your cat is urinating outside the litter box, here are some things that you can try. Increase the number of litter boxes in your house. Make sure there’s one on every floor in case your cat is experiencing discomfort going up and down the stairs. Put the new litter boxes in areas where your cat can easily find them. Many cats also have trouble getting into and out of the litter box when they get older, so use litter boxes that have low sides.

For more information about litter box avoidance, check out The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box.

Here’s Why Your Older Cat Wants Attention More Often

Sometimes an older cat can become more needy. If your senior cat wants attention more often, she can show it in many different ways. Your cat may become more vocal. Vocalization is a form of communication for cats, so listen to your cat and pay attention to what she is saying. Your cat’s meow is generally a call for attention of some sort. It’s good to engage in some cat talk and to give your cat the extra attention she seeks. If you’ve ever wondered what your cat is trying to say to you, check out this article – Understanding “Cat Talk” – What is Your Kitty Saying?

When Your Older Cat Wants More Attention

If your cat wants to show her affection for you, she may follow you around or brush up against your legs. One of the most affectionate displays is when a cat will rub its head on their human companions. This friendly, aroma-sharing gesture enables a feline to reinforce a positive relationship and mark you with her scent as she releases pheromones that signal comfort and familiarity. This is a loving signal that your cat wants your attention. To learn more about the ways our cats show us they love us, go to 7 Signs Your Cat Actually Adores You.

If you are working at the computer or reading the newspaper, your cat may sit in front of the computer screen or on the keyboard, or she may jump up and sit on top of your newspaper while you are reading. She may stare at you incessantly. Essentially she is saying, “Look at me! Pay attention to me!” When this happens, you should take some time to show affection to your kitty. Stop what you are doing for a few minutes. Pet her and talk to her and let her know that you love her. If it is possible for you to take a break, see if your kitty wants to play with you.

Tricks Older Cats Use To Get Your Attention

Another trick cats use to get attention is to reach out and push something off the countertop with their paw. Cats usually do this when we are there to watch it happen. If your attention is focused elsewhere, your cat may just reach out with its paw and swipe at an item, pushing it off the table to the floor. This is your cat’s way of saying, “Hey, look at me! Play with me!”

Cat Talk: Your cat will tell you what he needs through vocalization.

If your cat wants attention, he will find a way to show you. Your cat may become more clingy as he ages, wanting to be with you every moment of the day or night. If your cat has lost some of his sensory perception, being with his human companion may be a stabilizing influence in his daily life. To learn more about caring for a senior cat go to How to Transition to Managing Old Cat Behavior.

If your senior cat still likes to play, you should engage in play as often as he is willing. This is a great way to give your cat the attention he seeks and the activity will help to keep his aging body healthy.

While some older cats become more aloof and less interactive, others become more needy. They seem to crave more attention. If your senior cat wants attention, make sure to give it to her. Give her plenty of lap time and talk to her sweetly. Show her that she is important to you. If she still likes to play, get one of her favorite toys and play together. Show your older cat plenty of love and affection and she will be happy.

To learn more about old cat behavior, go to Behavior of the Senior Cat.

Aging Pets: How to Handle Changes in Cat Behavior

Owners of senior cats often notice a change in cat behavior but they simply chalk it up to getting older. Failure to use the litter box, a change in activity levels, and changes in eating, drinking or sleeping can definitely be attributed to old age… but is there something else going on? It would be a mistake to simply attribute these changes to aging without first investigating the possibility of an underlying medical condition. Always see your veterinarian if you have any concerns about your older cat.

Changes in Senior Cat Behavior: What to Look For?

As your cat ages, you should be aware of any changes in behavior, mood or activity. Just like people, older cats become less mentally and physically active. This can be attributed to aging changes that take place in the brain as well as physical factors such as joint stiffness. A change in cat behavior could be a signal that something else is going on.

You may notice your older cat sleeping more than usual. Cats will usually sleep between 16 to 18  hours per day. If your cat is 10 years of age or older, he may sleep between 18 to 21 hours per day. It is natural for your cat to sleep more as he ages.

As your cat ages, bending and moving may become more difficult. This can be related to arthritis or another condition. To learn more about arthritis in cats, go to Arthritis in Cats: Does Your Cat Have Arthritis?

Your cat may have more difficulty jumping up to places that he likes to go, like the bed or his favorite window sill. When this happens you should provide a ramp or a set of kitty stairs so your cat can continue to do the things that make him happy.

Keeping Your Senior Cat Active and Happy

In spite of mobility problems, it is important that your senior cat continues to exercise. To keep your cat interested in play, continue engaging in interactive play sessions. Just reduce the length of time your cat exercises and increase the frequency of your play sessions. For example, if you played twice a day for 20 minutes at a time, play four times a day for 5 or 10 minutes at a time. If your senior cat does not see as well, roll a ball with a bell for him to chase. If your cat enjoys catnip, leave a catnip toy out for him to play with as he wishes.

In most cases, cats can be considered senior when they are between seven and ten years old.

If moving becomes painful, your cat may wash himself less often. It will be up to you to offer more grooming assistance as your cat ages to help him maintain a clean, soft coat. With age, your cat may be less able to cough up hairballs, so regular brushing will help keep them from forming. If your older cat resists being combed or brushed, use a soft-bristled brush or a grooming glove. Pet wipes will help you to keep his coat clean. If your senior cat uses his scratching post less often, you will need to clip his nails to keep them from becoming ingrown. To learn more about grooming your senior cat, go to Grooming Your Senior Cat – Special Concerns.

A normal change in cat behavior with older cats may be that they do not want to be picked up as often. This could be because he is experiencing joint pain or his muscles are stiff. On the other hand, some senior cats become more clingy with age, wanting to be with their human every second of the day or night. All cats are different. Take your cue from your cat and give them the comfort and security they need.

Senior Cat: Litter Box Issues

Age-related problems may make your cat avoid the litter box. Mobility issues may make it difficult for your cat to navigate stairs in order to access his litter box, and he may have problems climbing into the box. To help prevent these litter box issues, make the litter box more accessible to your kitty. Put the box in a location where your cat will not have to climb or descend stairs to get to it. Also, find a litter box with lower sides to make it easier to access. Age-related illnesses like diabetes or kidney problems may cause your cat to urinate more often. That means you will have to clean the box more often to keep it clean and appealing. For more information about litter box avoidance, check out The Top 8 Reasons Why Your Kitty Won’t Use the Litter Box.

Vet Tips for Elderly Cat Care

As we age our bodies change. The same thing is true for our cats.

What do you need to know about elderly cat care? As your cat changes, so do physical and emotional needs. Ideally, elderly cat care should focus on preventative measures. Whenever possible, it is better to prevent a problem from occurring rather than to wait for a problem to develop. Detecting diseases in the early stages greatly improve the outcome.

What to be Aware of as Your Cat Ages

As your cat ages, she may lose weight. This can be part of the normal aging process, but it can also be a sign of a medical problem like cancer, kidney failure, hyperthyroidism or something else. Changes in weight can be the first sign of disease, so don’t take chances with your senior cat. If you notice any significant changes contact your veterinarian.

Elderly cat care should include regular visits to your veterinarian. Your senior cat is at risk for several medical problems as she ages, which is why she needs periodic exams to stay healthy. Some of the most common illnesses known to afflict older cats include nutritional problems, dental disease, kidney disease, hyperthyroidism, diabetes, hypertension, heart disease, inflammatory bowel disease, skin tumors, and cancer. Other concerns with elderly cats include liver diseases and anemia. To learn more about possible disorders with your senior cat, go to 10 Common Disorders of Senior Cats.

As your cat ages, your veterinarian will help to monitor any changes along the way. Most vets recommend a checkup every six months. Have your cat’s hearing and eyesight checked. It’s not unusual for a senior cat’s eyes to look cloudy. But like humans, your senior cat can develop cataracts and glaucoma. Your senior cat can also develop hearing loss. Your cat may have hearing or eyesight problems if he seems surprised when you come close, if he bumps into things, or if he doesn’t come when you call him.

Senior Cats and Nutrition

Remember that elderly cat care includes good nutrition. As your cat ages, her metabolism slows down and your older cat will require fewer daily calories. Make sure that your senior cat is eating well. There is no one best food to feed to a senior cat – the best food depends on your cat’s specific problems or nutritional requirements. Most foods for older cats are lower in protein, sodium, and phosphorus to help their aging hearts and kidneys. Increased amounts of certain vitamins have also been found to be beneficial in the senior cat.

Keep your senior cat active. Provide moderate exercise to help maintain muscle tone, to keep his heart and digestion healthy, and to improve his attitude.

Cat Obesity: A Growing Epidemic

In 2016, 58.9% of cats were classified as clinically overweight or obese.

Obesity is a problem to be taken seriously. It directly correlates to a decreased longevity and may contribute to other problems like diabetes and arthritis. According to the Pet Obesity Organization 2016 Pet Survey, over 50 million cats are clinically overweight or obese.

The primary causes of obesity are overeating and lack of exercise. When regular caloric intake exceeds the energy burned, the excess is stored as fat. As little as an extra 1 percent caloric intake can result in 25 percent increase over ideal body weight by middle age. Most owners don’t recognize that their cats are overweight until they take them to the veterinarian for another reason. To learn more about how to tell if your cat is overweight, go to Is Your Cat Too Fat.

If your senior cat has arthritis, there are some things you can do to help. Consider buying a set of pet stairs to help your cat more easily access the bed or sofa. Give your senior cat a soft yet supportive place to sleep. Consider a good glucosamine supplement. To learn more about arthritis in cats, go to Arthritis in Cats: Does Your Cat Have Arthritis

As a rule, cats don’t like change, and this is especially true for older cats. Your senior cat is set in her ways. Stick to a regular schedule. Feed your cat at the same time every day. Cats love a routine, and they will appreciate it even more as they age. Any changes in daily routine, schedules or environment will cause undue stress. Stress can weaken your cat’s immune system and make her more susceptible to disease, so keep change to a minimum.

Cats are good at hiding illness and this is just as true for elderly cats. Diseases can be treated with better outcomes when they are caught early so it is important to carefully monitor your senior cat’s behavior and health, and to have regular checkups with your veterinarian.

FIP in Cats

FIP in cats is an abbreviation for “Feline Infectious Peritonitis”. This is a disease caused by mutation of a virus called the feline coronavirus, commonly abbreviated in literature as FCoV.  FIP in cats is fairly uncommon, affecting less than 1% of cats. However, once the virus mutates, it is generally a progressive and ultimately fatal disease.

FIP in cats is most common in cats 6 months to 2 years of age with a slightly higher distribution in male cats. Certain purebred cats also have a higher incidence including Asian breeds such as Himalayan and Birman cats.

Below we will discuss what is FIP in cats, signs of FIP, FIP symptoms, if FIP is contagious, and give you information on the FIP vaccine.

What is FIP in Cats?

FIP in cats is a disease caused by a mutated coronavirus. Feline coronavirus is commonly present in the intestines of cats.  In fact, it is estimated that approximately half of the cats in single cat households have the virus. It is even more common in multi-cat environments e.g. catteries where it is estimated that up to 90% of cats may have coronavirus.

Most cats that have coronavirus live a normal life. However, it is estimated that 5% of cats with coronavirus will go on to develop FIP. In this small percentage of cats, the virus mutates into a pathogenic and harmful virus that causes a variety of problems that we will discuss below under “Signs of FIP in Cats”. This only happens in some cats and the cause is uncertain but is most likely related to the cats’ immune system.

It is important to understand that FIP in cats is NOT transmitted from one cat to another. This can be confusing to some pet owners. The coronavirus CAN be transmitted from cat to cat, but FIP CANNOT be transmitted from one cat to another.

Once a cat has been exposed to coronavirus, 95% will have a normal life. When the coronavirus mutates in the other 5% this is what causes FIP.

What are the Signs of FIP in Cats?

There are two forms of FIP in cats. The first form is called effusive (also known as wet or feline coronavirual polyserositis) FIP and second is called non-effusive (also known as dry or granulomatous) FIP. It is possible for cats to get both forms of the disease.  Signs of FIP in cats generally develop over weeks to months.

 

The signs of FIP in cats will depend on which form of FIP they acquire.  When the virus mutates, generally one of two things happen. Sometimes the virus affects the blood vessels which is what happens with the “wet” form, or the cat develops granulomatous lesions which is what occurs in the “dry” form of FIP.

 

With the wet form of FIP, cats develop vasculitis (inflammation of the blood vessels) which causes abnormal fluid accumulations. If the fluid accumulation occurs in the chest (also known as a pleural effusion), common signs are trouble breathing. If the fluid accumulation occurs in the abdomen (commonly referred to as ascites), the abdomen can become distended. The excessive abdominal fluid is uncomfortable and causes signs such as nausea, decreased appetite, lethargy, weight loss, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. Most pet owners don’t notice the distended abdomen but will take their cats to the vet for trouble breathing or the signs that result from abdominal distension.

 

The dry form of FIP in cats causes granulomatous lesions to various organs including the eyes, skin, and/or nervous system.  A granuloma is a collection of immune cells that form in response to the virus and can be found with many different diseases. The granuloma creates lesions on the skin, in the eye, or nervous system that cause associated signs of FIP. For example, if granuloma forms in the brain, a cat may have trouble walking, be off balance, develop head tremors, and/or seizure just to name a few possibilities.

Many cats with FIP will also have a fever and eventually become anemic (pale).

What are the Symptoms of FIP in Cats?

FIP symptoms in cats may include any or all of the following:

  •   Fever
  •   Lethargy
  •   Depression
  •   Loss of appetite
  •   Weight loss
  •   Vomiting
  •   Diarrhea
  •   Unkempt appearance
  •   Trouble breathing or difficult breathing
  •   Distended abdomen (ascites)
  •   Jaundice (yellow color of the skin, eyes, ears, nose or gums)
  •   Pale gums
  •   Trouble walking or unsteady walking (ataxia)
  •   Seizures or paralysis with nervous system involvement
  •   Eye abnormalities

FIP Symptoms Kittens

FIP symptoms in kittens can be the same as those in adult cats. Some kittens with FIP will appear lethargic and fail to thrive relative to their littermates. They tend to sleep more, play less, appear lethargic, sometimes vomit or not eat, and overall fail to grow like a normal kitten. When the wet form is present, it can be more common to see a profoundly distended abdomen.

Is FIP Contagious?

The question “is FIP contagious” is a common and important one. As mentioned above, the cause of FIP is an abnormal mutation of the coronavirus. Coronavirus is contagious cat to cat, but FIP is NOT contagious cat to cat.

Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (MiraLAX®) for Dogs and Cats

Overview of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 (MiraLAX®) for Canines and Felines

  • Polyethylene glycol 3350, commonly known as MiraLAX® as well by many other trade names (see below), is used as a laxative to treat constipation for dogs and cats. It is also used to empty the intestines prior to diagnostic procedures. It is commonly used in humans before diagnostic procedures such as colonoscopy.
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 belongs to the class of drugs known as osmotic laxatives. Polyethylene glycol works by creating and environment where water is retained in the stool. There are versions of Polyethylene glycol that contain electrolytes used primarily for preparation for colonoscopy in humans including the product “Golytely®”.
  • The recommendations in this article are for the Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder for solution is available in either pre-measured 17 gram packets or bulk powder such as MiraLax®, Dulcolax Balance®, and various generic names.
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 is available without a prescription but should not be administered unless under the supervision and guidance of a veterinarian. Some pets will appear to strain which can look like constipation but is actually a urinary obstruction or colitis.
  • This drug is not approved for use in animals by the Food and Drug Administration but it is prescribed legally by veterinarians as an extra-label drug.

Brand Names and Other Names of Polyethylene glycol 3350 (MiraLAX®)

  • Human formulations: There are several different trade name products for docusate. Common names include Clearlax, Colyte, Dulcolax, Easylax, EZ2GO, Gavilax, Gavilyte, Gialax, Glycolax, Golytely, Healthylax, Laxaclear, Miralax, Moviprep, Natura-Lax, Nulytely, Pegylax, Powderlax, Purelax, Smooth lax, and Trilyte.
  • Veterinary formulations: None

Uses of Polyethylene glycol 3350 for Dogs and Cats

  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 is used to stimulate bowel movements in animals with constipation or when there is a need to empty the large intestine such as before a diagnostic procedure to examine the intestine.

Precautions and Side Effects

  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 should not be used in animals with known hypersensitivity or allergy to the drug.
  • While generally safe and effective when prescribed by a veterinarian, Polyethylene glycol 3350 can cause side effects in some animals. Some pets will experience lethargy, nausea, vomiting, and/or increased thirst. Longer-term use can cause electrolyte imbalances including high potassium and/or low sodium or cause dehydration.
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 should not be used in animals with gastrointestinal obstructions, rectal bleeding or a tear in the intestinal wall (bowel perforation), or toxic colitis.  It is also not approved for breeding, nursing or lactating dogs or cats but is considered safe by many veterinarians.
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 may interact with other medications. Consult with your veterinarian to determine if other drugs your pet is receiving could interact with Polyethylene glycol 3350. Such drugs include certain other laxatives and stool softeners.

How Polyethylene Glycol 3350 is Supplied

  • Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder for the solution is available in either pre-measured 17 gram packets or bulk powder such as MiraLax®, Dulcolax Balance®, and various generic products.
  • Polyethylene glycol 3350 is available in various solutions that have added electrolytes primarily used in humans as preparation for colonoscopy diagnostic procedures. Products include CL® Solution; CoLyte®; GoLYTELY®; NuLytely®, TriLyte®, MoviPrep®.

Dosing Information of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 for Dogs and Cats

  •   Medication should never be administered without first consulting your veterinarian.
  • In dogs, the dose of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder for solution varies with the size of the dog:
    • Small dogs – 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon every 12 hours (twice daily)
    • Medium sized dogs – ¼ to ½ teaspoon every 12 hours (twice daily)
    • Large dogs – ½ to ¾ teaspoon every 12 hours (twice daily)
  • In cats, the dose of Polyethylene Glycol 3350 Powder for the solution most commonly used is as a laxative is 1/8 to ¼ teaspoon every 12 hours on food.
  • The duration of administration depends on the condition being treated, response to the medication and the development of any adverse effects. Be certain to complete the prescription unless specifically directed by your veterinarian. Even if your pet feels better, the entire treatment plan should be completed to prevent relapse.

References for Canine and Feline Use of Polyethylene glycol 3350:

  • American Society of Hospital Pharmacists. Polyethylene glycol. In: AHFS drug information 2010. Bethesda, MD, USA: American Society of Health-System Pharmacists; 2010.
  • ASPCA Pet Poison Hotline
  • Carr A, Gaunt M. Constipation resolution with the administration of polyethylene-glycol solution in cats. In: 2010 ACVIM Forum Proceedings. Anaheim, CA, USA.
  • Current Veterinary Therapy XV, Bonagura and Twedt.
  • Leib MS. Colonoscopy. In: 80th Annual Western Veterinary Conference Notes (WVC 2008). Las Vegas, NV, USA; 2008.
  •  Ogbru O. Polyethylene glycol 3350 .San Clemente, CA, USA: Medicinenet.com; 2015.
  •  Paddock Laboratories, LLC. Polyethylene glycol 3350. Minneapolis, MN, USA; 2016.
  •  Pet Poison Helpline.
  •  Plumb’s Veterinary Handbook by Donald C. Plumb, 9th Edition.
  •  Tam FM, Carr AP, Myers SL. Safety and palatability of polyethylene glycol 3350 as an oral laxative in cats. J Feline Med Surg 2011.
  • Textbook of Veterinary Internal Medicine, Ettinger & Felman
  • Webster R, Didier E, Harris P, et al. PEGylated proteins: evaluation of their safety in the absence of definitive metabolism studies. Drug Metab Dispos 2007.
  • Carr, A. & M. Gaunt (2010). Constipation Resolution with Administration of Polyethylene-Glycol Solution in Cats (Abstract). Proceedings: ACVIM.