Most people regard their pets as important members of their families so when it comes to veterinary care they will do whatever it takes to keep their four legged friends healthy and happy. For cat owners there are a few chronic illnesses that become more common with age. As with humans, ailments like kidney and heart disease, diabetes and asthma often need medication to ease symptoms and improve quality of life. In some cases, felines can even suffer from mental issues like depression and stress that require mood enhancing drugs. Here is an in-depth look at some common conditions and medications you may encounter as a kitty parent.
One of the most prevalent feline diseases around is chronic renal disease. Sadly, many cats develop this ailment as they age but it can be managed with the right medication. One medication used to treat chronic kidney disease (CKD) is Calcitrol. This oral medication is used to regulate low calcium levels in the blood (hypocalcemia). Calcitrol is a Vitamin D analogue that helps calcium to be absorbed from the intestinal tract. It comes in capsule form and must be prescribed by a veterinarian. Follow your vet’s directions for dosing and watch for potential side effects. Too much medication can lead to excessive calcium levels which are manifested in symptoms like excessive thirst and urination and diminished appetite. Symptoms of low calcium levels include weakness, muscle twitching or tremors, seizures and other behavioral changes.
Another cat medication that is used for kidney disease as well as congestive heart failure, pulmonary edema, lung and liver disease is Furosemide. Furosemide is a diuretic or water pill that is administered to cats to remove excess fluids from their bodies. It is also useful in treating high blood pressure as it regulates electrolyte levels. Available in liquid or tablet form, Furosemide is administered orally. The most prevalent side effect is increased thirst and more frequent urination so be sure to have a good supply of fresh water available as well as a clean litter box.
As with humans, another disease that is common among felines is diabetes. Though cats with a Garfield-esque physique are roly-poly cute, excess weight can lead to a more sedentary lifestyle which puts stress on their entire bodies. Diabetes is one way this stress can manifest itself but thankfully there is medication available that can help regulate blood sugar. Glipzide tablets are one such medication that is used to treat diabetes mellitus (Type II) by lowering blood sugar to normal levels and alleviate symptoms of the disease. This oral hypoglycemic agent is a sufonylurea that works by causing the pancreas to release more insulin. It can be used in conjunction with a low carbohydrate diet and exercise or along with insulin. Available in 5 mg tablets, Glipzide is usually administered twice a day with meals and unfortunately is usually needed for the rest of your cat’s life. Blood work must be done periodically to check that Glipzide is working otherwise it may be necessary to include insulin in your pet’s regimen. Monitoring your cat’s water intake and urination is a helpful tool to make sure Glipzide is doing its job. Also be aware of symptoms like weakness, wobbling, head tilting, shivering, sleepiness, glassy eyes, seizures, hunger, confusion or uncharacteristically inactive behavior which may indicate hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). If this happens, rub ¼ teaspoon of Karo® syrup carefully onto your cat’s gums and take him to the veterinarian.
Another common ailment that can affect cats of any ages is asthma. As with humans, the treatment for asthma involves an inhaler to open up the air passages. Unfortunately, it is much easier for a human to suck on an inhaler than it is for cats that lack opposable thumbs (much to their chagrin). This is where you as their primary care giving human come in to help them. The AeroKat Feline Aerosol chamber was designed to be used along with a metered dose inhaler to deliver aerosol medication such as Flovent (fluticasone) or ProAir (albuterol). The aerosol chamber is essentially a mask that comes in small and large sizes depending on the cat’s size. This chamber includes a Flow-Vu Indicator that moves with respiration so you can count your cat’s breaths and ensure that the mask is securely sealed over his mouth. While this seems unrealistic that a cat can use an inhaler, it can be done but you might want to try wrapping his body in a towel the first few times so you don’t lose an eye trying to help him breathe.
In capitalizing on this segue of cats losing their minds, ironically, one medical condition you would think only affects humans is now being diagnosed among our feline friends. Yes folks, cats too can suffer from depression and anxiety and now many of them are taking medication for it just like their owners. Once such medication is Amitriptyline Generic Tablets for Pets. This tricyclic anti-depressant is prescribed to treat behavioral problems such as urine spraying, anxiety or excess grooming. Since psychotherapy s not really a viable option for cats as they just can’t take advice, if behavior is truly an issue Amitriptyline Tablets might just be the solution. Just don’t try to sneak any of Fluffy’s pills for yourself as clearly you don’t want to be on the receiving end of a crazy cat’s tirade.
While some folks may feel antidepressants for pets is a bit extreme, animals do feel pain, sadness and anxiety just like humans do so medications like Amitriptyline have a purpose just like medications for diabetes, asthma kidney and heart disease do. All help alleviate symptoms, making your cat’s quality of life better in both health and spirits. So while we hope that at your kitties’ next check up will not have any ailments that require medication just take comfort in the fact that if he does there are many common meds that can keep him healthy and happy for years to come.
Jen Crawford is a freelance writer who writes about pet care and pet meds.
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