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Cats + Medical Conditions + English

  • Bowel incontinence refers to the loss of the ability to control bowel movements. There are two broad causes of fecal incontinence: reservoir incontinence and sphincter incontinence. In reservoir incontinence, intestinal disease interferes with the rectum’s ability to store normal volumes of feces. In sphincter incontinence, a structural or neurologic lesion prevents the anal sphincter from closing normally. Clinical signs, diagnostic testing, and treatment vary based upon the underlying cause.

  • Brachycephalic airway syndrome refers to a particular set of upper airway abnormalities that affect brachycephalic cats. The most common sign of the condition is mouth breathing and, in the long term, the increased effort associated with breathing can put a strain on the cat's heart. Surgery is the treatment of choice whenever the anatomical abnormalities interfere with a cat’s breathing.

  • Brain injuries are devastating and, unfortunately, often fatal. The typical signs of brain injury in a cat include altered consciousness that may signal bleeding in the skull, decreased blood flow to the brain, or fluid causing swelling within the brain itself. There are many potential causes of brain injury and treatment will always be determined by the underlying problem that led to the injury.

  • Calcium deposits in the skin have a variety of causes. Calcinosis circumscripta is deposition of calcium at bony prominences or, in the footpads and mouth. It is usually a disease of large dog breeds and occurs before two years of age. Calcinosis cutis is induced by local skin damage in susceptible animals and takes two forms: dystrophic or metastatic. The appearance of the skin lesions may lead your veterinarian to suspect calcium deposits as the problem, particularly when the age, breed, and clinical history are considered. Blood tests can help indicate some underlying conditions, but confirmation by skin biopsy may be necessary. While small deposits may be resorbed without treatment over time, surgery is the best choice for larger deposits.

  • Cardiomyopathy is a term used to describe diseases of the heart muscle. In cats, three classes of cardiomyopathy have been described: hypertrophic, dilated, and intermediate or restrictive cardiomyopathy. In the early stages of disease, the cat may not show any signs of disease. This is referred to as compensated heart disease. Often cats will alter their activity levels to those that they can cope with, which makes it difficult to diagnose cardiomyopathy until it is quite advanced. Diagnosis of heart disease can be suspected based on clinical signs, chest X-rays, and electrocardiography (ECG). In cases where an underlying cause of the heart disease is found, then treatment of this condition may result in improvement or reversal of the heart disease. The long-term prognosis for a cat with cardiomyopathy is extremely variable, depending on the cause of this disease.

  • Carpal hyperextension is an abnormality of the carpus (wrist) that causes hyperextension of the joint. Carpal hyperextension in cats is typically caused by trauma. Cats can also develop carpal hyperextension in association with other systemic diseases (e.g., inflammatory arthritis, diabetes mellitus). Cats with carpal hyperextension have a noticeable bend at the wrist, forcing their lower limb into an abnormally flattened position. If carpal hyperextension is caused by trauma, it may also be associated with pain and swelling. A tentative diagnosis of carpal hyperextension can be made based on initial observation, but a thorough physical examination is necessary because cats with carpal hyperextension may also have abnormalities in other joints. Treatment of carpal hyperextension depends upon the severity of the condition.

  • Carpal laxity is a condition in which the carpus has an abnormal or excessive range of motion. Carpal laxity can show up in one of two ways: carpal hyperextension or carpal flexion. The underlying cause of carpal laxity has not been definitively determined but may be caused by nutritional factors, genetic factors, and being raised on slippery flooring surfaces. Signs of carpal laxity may be seen at any time from 6 weeks of age onward, but the condition is most commonly noted between three and six months of age. Activity modification is often recommended for affected kittens by keeping them off slippery surfaces. Most kittens with carpal laxity will appear completely normal within six to eight weeks.

  • House soiling in cats, also called feline inappropriate elimination, is the most common behavioral complaint of cat owners. Problem behaviors can be urine and/or stool deposited outside of the litter box, or marking behaviors.

  • A cataract is an increase in the opacity of the lens of the eye. There are many potential causes of cataracts because any type of damage to the lens can lead to a cataract. The clinical signs of cataracts vary significantly, depending on the size of the cataract; many cataracts are asymptomatic at the time they are diagnosed during a veterinary exam. The ideal treatment for cataracts is surgery, but not all cats are candidates for surgical treatment. In these cases, anti-inflammatory medications may be used to prevent glaucoma and other secondary complications of cataracts.

  • Cerebellar hypoplasia is a developmental condition in which the cerebellum of the brain fails to develop properly. It most commonly occurs when a pregnant cat becomes infected with feline panleukopenia virus and passes the infection to her unborn kittens. Since the cerebellum is responsible for purposeful movement and coordination, the symptoms of this condition may not become apparent until the kitten starts to try to stand or walk on its own. There is no treatment; however, kittens with cerebellar hypoplasia are not infectious to other kittens or cats, are not in any pain, and will learn to adapt to their disability over time.