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Cats + Medical Conditions

  • An abscess is a “pocket of pus” located somewhere in the body. Abscesses can be located superficially or deep within the body tissues. Typically, an abscess appears suddenly as a painful swelling (if it is not located inside a body cavity or deep within tissue). A cat with an abscess will often have a fever, even if the abscess has ruptured and drained to the outside of the body. One of the most common causes is a bite from another animal. Abscess treatment depends on the location and the severity of the infection. Most abscesses are treated on an outpatient basis, rather than in the hospital. Appropriate antibiotic therapy is a critical component of the successful treatment of abscesses, no matter the location. It is also important to ensure adequate pain relief during treatment of an abscess. Delayed or inadequate treatment may lead to chronically draining tracts in the tissue or even to organ system compromise, so it is important to follow all treatment instructions from your veterinarian.

  • Acute renal failure (ARF) or acute kidney failure refers to the sudden failure of the kidneys to perform normal filtration duties. ARF leads to accumulation of toxins and other metabolic wastes in the bloodstream, dehydration, electrolyte imbalances, and disturbances in the acid-base balance of the blood. The initial prognosis is guarded for all cases of ARF. If the cause is an infection, there is a better prognosis than if the cause is a toxic substance.

  • Acute respiratory distress syndrome, also known as shock lung, is a life-threatening complication of critical illness in cats, such as systemic infection or disease, severe trauma, or near-drowning. Treatment involves targeting the underlying cause while also supporting the cat's compromised lung function with the use of an oxygen cage, an oxygen line direct to the cat's nasal passages, or in severe cases, a mechanical ventilator. Unfortunately, the prognosis for this condition is poor.

  • Hypoadrenocorticism, also known as Addison’s disease, is a condition in which the adrenal glands do not produce enough glucocorticoids (steroids) to allow normal body function. This condition is considered rare in cats, but numerous cases have been reported. Affected cats often have a history of waxing and waning periods of lethargy, decreased appetite, and weight loss. Long-term, cats with hypoadrenocorticism require medications to supplement the substances released from the adrenal glands.

  • An allergy occurs when the cat's immune system overreacts or is hypersensitive to foreign substances called allergens. There are four main types of allergies in cats, namely flea allergy, atopic dermatitis (atopy), food allergy, and contact allergy. They share common physical expressions and signs in cats, and each has unique features.

  • Amyloidosis occurs when amyloid proteins are deposited outside of cells in various tissues and organs causing tissue and organ dysfunction. It is uncommon in cats, except for Abyssinians, Siamese, Burmese, Tonkinese, Devon Rex, and Oriental Shorthair breeds. Signs depend on the organs involved, but kidney involvement is most common. If kidneys are involved signs include mouth ulcers, weight loss, vomiting, and dehydration. For cats with liver involvement, signs include weakness, pale gum color, distended abdomen, rapid heart rate, rapid breathing, abdominal pain, and collapse. There is no specific medication for the treatment of amyloidosis in cats, with treatment focusing on kidney support.

  • The anal sacs are two small pouches located on either side of the anus. The walls of the sac produce a foul-smelling fluid that is released when a cat passes a bowel movement. The anal sacs or their ducts can become inflamed or infected due to a variety of causes. Most cats will respond well to pain relief medications and antibiotics. If a cat has several episodes of anal sac disease, and dietary changes and supplements or medication do not relieve the problem, the anal sacs can be removed surgically.

  • Anemia is a medical term referring to a reduced number of circulating red blood cells, hemoglobin, or both. It is not a specific disease but rather it is the result of some other disease process or condition. The most easily observed and common clinical sign of anemia is a loss of the normal pink color of the gums. Several tests are performed on blood samples to diagnose anemia. If your cat's anemia is so severe that it is life threatening, a blood transfusion will be needed.

  • The pupil constricts or dilates (enlarges) according to the amount of light that enters the eyes, with both pupils normally dilating in dim light and constricting in bright light. Anisocoria is a condition in which the pupils of the cat's eyes are different sizes. Anisocoria is a sign of an underlying disease condition and therefore there are several different causes. Your veterinarian will begin by conducting a physical examination of your cat, including a detailed examination of the structures of the eye. The treatment and prognosis of anisocoria depends entirely on the underlying cause of the condition, and specific treatment will be tailored specifically to the diagnosis.

  • A cat that is not wanting to eat or is not eating, is a cat who has a potentially life-threatening medical condition. Many conditions can lead to the inability of your cat to eat or for your cat to lose her appetite completely. It is important to find the underlying cause so that an appropriate treatment plan can be created. Appetite stimulants may be prescribed and in some cases a feeding tube may be placed by your veterinarian. Decreased food intake or any change in eating habits warrants investigation by your veterinarian.

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