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cat diseases

How to protect your cat from disease

Cats are more than just “pets” to most owners. A cat is a four-legged friend, a furry companion, a comic, a curtain-shredder, and most importantly-a member of the family. It is only natural to want to give the best care we possibly can to our beloved felines. Unfortunately, there are many diseases that can afflict cats, both young and old. The good news is that there are preventative measures that cat owners can take to ensure the health of their pet.

Some of the most dangerous and often fatal diseases that can befall cats are infectious diseases that cats can transmit through nose to nose contact. Diseases such as Feline Leukemia and FIV can ravage a cat’s immune system and cause him to become very sick in a short period of time-even a young kitten. It is imperative that all new cats-whether a stray, a kitten, or an older cat-be tested for these diseases before you bring them home. Your veterinarian can perform a simple and quick blood test, usually right in the office, that will let you know if a new pet is carrying one of these deadly diseases. This is especially important if you have other cats in the household. Some diseases, Feline Leukemia in particular, can be vaccinated against if your cat is negative.

Vaccinating your cat is the next step at keeping them disease-free, especially if you plan to let him or her outside, or have other cats who venture into the big, bad world. Most veterinarians will vaccinate for Rabies, “distemper” (often referred to as FVRCP or FVRP-an acronym for the various diseases it prevents against) and Feline Leukemia. If you are 100% positive your feline will never come in contact with a stray cat, you may choose to opt out of the Leukemia vaccine. But since this disease is very contagious, if you live in an area with a lot of stray or feral cats around, you may want to consider the vaccine anyhow. It would be heartbreaking for your pampered kitty to escape the house for the day and return home with a deadly disease.

Another surefire way to improve the odds of your cat staying healthy is to spay or neuter it. Besides being the responsible thing to do, altering a cat can eliminate the chance of diseases, particularly in females, such as mammary tumors or uterine infections. A cat that is fixed is going to be less anxious to escape outdoors and less likely to run away and get into trouble.

But what about the diseases that seem to befall cats as they grow older…heart disease, diabetes, or even arthritis?

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