NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

PortWatch

October 12, 2012

Paw Prints: Cats are masters of disguise all year long

It’s October and Halloween is approaching. Your kitty has been practicing all year. He doesn’t need a costume — he’s already the master of disguise.

That doesn’t mean he has a spooky outfit. Cats are experts at masking problems. Fluffy won’t howl or write you a note or point his little paw to where it hurts. When cats are ill or in pain, they’re good at keeping the secret until the condition is advanced.

At first glance, your cat may seem content. However, he may be hiding a problem. Learning to recognize your kitty’s early distress signals can help him lead a long, happy life with you.

A change in drinking patterns often signals health issues for your cat. Be on the lookout for increased water consumption. You may notice the water bowl needs filling more frequently. Maybe Fluffy is eager to drink from dripping faucets or open toilet bowls. Mother Nature designed cats as desert animals, so a thirsty cat is often a sick cat.

Kidney disease occurs in cats of all ages, but it is especially common in seniors. Diabetes is another consideration. Early diagnosis can make a difference in long-term outcome for your cat.

Some cat owners may not notice increased water consumption, but they do notice their cat is using the litter more frequently. If Fluffy is producing more urine, he’s probably drinking more water. If that’s not the case, then his frequent attempts to urinate might indicate bladder pain. Your veterinarian can help you sort this out. There are some very effective treatments for kidney and bladder disease.

Check Fluffy’s stool in the litterbox, too. Any changes are important clues from your cat. If stools become soft, small and hard, or have streaks of mucous or blood, let your veterinarian know.

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