Cats Symptoms Cure
> Change in Behavior|
|Change in behavior |
Don’t take any change in behavior lightly. Although most cats become
less active and more quiet when they are sick or injured (depression of
activity), any behavioral change can indicate a medical problem. Many
cats lessen or stop self-grooming behaviors when they are ill, so unkempt
fur may signal a behavior change. Cats can have “emotional” problems as
well, but they are much less common than illness-associated behavior
changes, and you will need to consult other books to deal with such
problems at home.
Change of appetite or water intake
Cats may lose their appetites completely when they are sick
(anorexia). More often, however, you will notice a change in appetite. The
sick cat may eat more or less. One day’s change, though, is not usually
important. Watch your cat’s food intake carefully. Once a cat is grown, food
intake should be fairly constant from day to day. Changes that persist
longer than five days with no other signs of illness should be discussed
with your veterinarian. Changes accompanied by other signs should not be
allowed to continue longer than twenty-four hours before you or your
veterinarian investigates the problem.
The normal resting cat maintains his or her rectal temperature within
the range of 101.0°F to 102.5°F (38.3° to 39.2°C). (For how to take a cat’s
temperature.) An elevated body temperature (fever) usually indicates
disease, but keep in mind that factors such as exercise, excitement, and
high environmental temperature can elevate a cat’s temperature as well.
Many kinds of bacteria produce toxins (called exogenous pyrogens) that
cause the body to release chemical substances called endogenous
pyrogens, which produce fever. Other agents such as viruses, fungi,
antibody-antigen complexes, and tumors produce fever in a similar
manner. These exogenous pyrogens induce white blood cells to produce
endogenous pyrogens, which pass into the brain and cause the
hypothalamus to raise its body temperature set point.
It is important to remember that fever is a sign of disease, not a disease
in itself. Drugs may be used to lower an extremely high fever (greater than
106°F [41.1°C]), but aspirin, the most common drug used for this purpose,
must be used with great caution in cats. The important thing is to find the
cause of the fever and treat it. In fact, there are indications that the
presence of fever may even be beneficial in some diseases.
Except in kittens less than four weeks of age, lowered body temperature
(less than 100°F [37.8°C]), is usually indicative of overwhelming disease,
and the affected animal needs immediate care.
Shivering may or may not be a sign of illness. Many cats shiver when
frightened, excited, or otherwise emotionally upset. Cats also shiver when
they are cold. Unless they are accustomed to being outside in cool
weather without protection, cats, like people, get cold and shiver in an
attempt to increase body heat.
Shivering may also be a sign of pain. It is often seen with the kind of pain
that is difficult to localize, such as abdominal or spinal pain. During the
early part of febrile disease (illness with fever), shivering sometimes
occurs. The heat it produces contributes to the rising body temperature. If
your cat is shivering, try to eliminate emotional causes and take his or her
temperature before concluding that this sign is due to pain.
All body tissues are bathed in fluids consisting primarily of water, ions,
proteins, and some other chemical substances such as nutrients and
waste products. Normal tissue fluids are extremely important in
maintaining normal cellular functions. Changes in the body’s water
composition are always accompanied by changes in other constituents of
tissue fluids. Small changes can have important consequences!
The most common tissue fluid alteration seen in sick animals is
depletion of body water, or dehydration. Dehydration occurs whenever the
body’s output of water exceeds its intake. One common cause of
dehydration during illness is not taking in enough water to meet the body’s
fixed daily requirements. Water is continually lost in urine, feces,
respiratory gases, and evaporation from some body surfaces (minor in
cats). Dehydration also occurs in conditions that cause excessive water
and/or electrolyte (ion) loss, such as vomiting and diarrhea. Fever also
increases the body’s water needs.
Although dehydration begins as soon as water output exceeds intake,
the signs of dehydration are usually undetectable until a water deficit of
about 4% of total body weight has occurred. If your cat has visible signs of
dehydration, he or she may have been sick longer than you realize and
may need professional veterinary care.