Cats: Taking Care of a Little Predator
Thu, April 22, 2021

Cats: Taking Care of a Little Predator

Cats live in 25.4% of households or roughly 31 million households, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association / Photo by: PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek via Shutterstock

 

Although dogs have the highest percentage as the most common household pet in 38.4% of households, or 48 million households, cats are a close second. Cats live in 25.4% of households or roughly 31 million households, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

All animals that would typically be known as “man’s best friend” or “best animal companion” have cats giving them a run for their money. However, there are certain scenarios that would place cats in a compromising situation or would make them a danger to others. As a carer for cats, it’s important to know what could potentially harm your furry friend, or even how these four-legged pets can harm others.

What Kills Cats

As recommended by Dr. Justine A. Lee, a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from Pet Health Network, a simple way to care for your cats is by maintaining a safe environment (keeping them indoors), feeding them high-quality food (meat and protein-based selections), scheduling annual physical check-ups, laboratory tests, and vaccines, as well as providing them with exercise. These practices keep these feline friends healthy for decades. However, despite being particular and careful with these guidelines, killer diseases can come unexpectedly.

Chronic Kidney Disease in cats is one of the top silent killers, also known as chronic renal failure or chronic kidney injury, which involves ineffective kidneys. Oftentimes, this affects 75% of a kidney to both kidneys completely. Symptoms of this condition include excessive drinking, urinating, bad breath, lethargy, and many more. To manage this, the food intake of cats must include a low-protein diet and increased water intake. If this disease is managed, cats are able to live with kidney disease for years.

Like humans, cats also experience hyperthyroidism, an endocrine disease where the thyroid produces too many hormones. This is common among middle-aged cats. Symptoms for this disease include excessive thirst, a ravenous appetite, as well as vomiting and weight loss. Hyperthyroidism in cats increases metabolism and heart rate, and sometimes causes organ injury. Treatment for this can include medication.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects insulin levels; insulin is the hormone known to drive sugar into cells. This can afflict those who are overweight or obese. It causes hyperglycemia, or too much glucose. The same disease that inflicts most human individuals, diabetes in cats presents itself in two forms. Type I diabetes includes the pancreas failing to produce insulin and Type II diabetes is when there is resistance to insulin. The symptoms are similar to chronic kidney disease, with treatments for this more frequent, costly, and involving a complete change in diet.

Cats also experience cardiac arrest, but the heartbeat of a cat is completely different from that of the usual human or even dog. 50% of cats with heart disease have no heart murmur. Symptoms of this condition include difficulty breathing, open mouth breathing, blue gums, and collapse. Treatments for this are not preventive, as there is no cure for heart disease; medications prevent heart disease from getting worse.

Cats and dogs tend to live longer than most household pets. Cats can live up to 20 years of age, but vary by breed, according to Skeptvet.com, a science-based pet health resource. But, veterinarians are also seeing more cases of cancer in cats, the most common being gastrointestinal cancer. Similar to symptoms of hyperthyroidism, these cats experience weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. The prognosis for cancer is poor, but treatments may still be initiated.

Aside from internal diseases, the most common and leading cause of death in cats is trauma. In young cats, trauma accounts for 47% of deaths, usually from road accidents. The second most common cause of death is from viral infectious diseases, which accounts for 6.6% of deaths. More than diseases, the outdoor lifestyle of cats matter.

Diabetes mellitus is a disease that affects insulin levels; insulin is the hormone known to drive sugar into cells. This can afflict those who are overweight or obese. It causes hyperglycemia, or too much glucose / Photo by: VP Photo Studio via Shutterstock

 

What Cats Kill

Cats also kill billions of animals every year, the most frequent being birds and rodents. Research from the journal of Nature Communications found that cats kill between 1.4 billion and 3.7 billion birds each year, as well as 6.9 billion and 20.7 billion small mammals including meadow voles and chipmunks. Moreover, the study found that roughly 15% of the total bird population in the United States fall victim to cats, as mentioned in a study by Pete Marra, an animal ecologist from the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute.

Cats are even known to roam outdoors in 10 different houses but go back indoors to snuggle up to their owners. In this same amount of time, cats are estimated to have killed four and 18 birds a year, and eight and 21 small mammals per year.

The circle of life is inevitable. In the same vein, cats can die and cause other animals to die. It is nature's way of keeping animals in check. No matter how much pet owners love to keep pets for the long haul, cats will not live forever. Despite all your efforts providing a safe environment for your cat, giving them a proper diet, and bringing them to the vet diligently, everything has its time. It is but a matter of being aware of what can affect your cat, and preparing them for it.

Cats also kill billions of animals every year, the most frequent being birds and rodents / Photo by: Markov.Sergei via Shutterstock