|Purred: Sun Aug 5, '12 12:03pm PST |
|Caring for your cat's health is a team effort. Important team members include your veterinarian, veterinary technicians and you! You are a critical part of that team because you know your cat better than anyone else and you can identify early signs of illness and bring them to the attention of the veterinary healthcare team. Most cats are masters at hiding illness so you have to be a bit of a sleuth to discover changes in their health. Believe it or not, the litterbox actually holds some great clues to your cat's health. So instead of considering litterbox cleaning a chore, think of it as a great opportunity to monitor your cat's health. Look for the following details when scooping your cat's litterbox:
Number of deposits in the litterbox:
Dramatic changes in the number of deposits in the box in a 24-hour period could indicate a problem. The average cat urinates four times and defecates once in a 24-hour period. Individual cats may vary in the frequency of their box usage so perhaps the most important clue that there may be a problem is a significant change in the number of box deposits. A significant increase in the number of deposits or a significant decline in the number of deposits are both important and should be discussed with your veterinary healthcare team. An increase in the number of urine deposits may indicate that your cat has a lower urinary tract condition such as feline idiopathic cystitis, urine crystals or a lower urinary tract infection. If your cat is also drinking more water the increased number of urine deposits may be due to diseases such as diabetes or kidney failure. A decrease in the number of urinations could indicate a condition where your cat has reduced its water consumption or that your cat is using an alternative site for elimination. If a cat stops urinating, it is considered a medical emergency and emergency care should be sought. An increase in number of defecations is often associated with diarrhea and may indicate problems such as gastrointestinal infections or parasites (worms). A decrease in the number of defecations may be due to a reduction in consumption of food or gastrointestinal illness that causes constipation. Scooping the litterboxes at approximately the same time each day will help you to notice changes in the average number of deposits. A sustained increase or decrease in the number of deposits should be discussed with your veterinary healthcare team.
Size of Urine Clumps:
Clumping litter such as Fresh Step® Scoop is a great litter choice, not only because most cats prefer clumping clay based litters over other types of litter, but because the liquid waste (urine) clumps into balls and allows you to better monitor the volume of each urination. Changes in urine volume can be an early marker of diseases such as infections or kidney failure. The average size cat (10 lbs) makes urine deposits that are about the size of a golf ball. But since cat size, water consumption and frequency of box usage vary, the most important thing to look for is changes in your cat's urine clump size. If you discover that the urine clumps become much smaller this could indicate that your cat has a medical condition with bladder irritation. If your cat's urine clumps become larger, this may indicate conditions associated with increase in water consumption such as diabetes or kidney failure. Sustained changes in the size of your cat's urine clumps should be brought to the attention of your veterinary healthcare team.
Characteristics of the Stool (feces):
Cat stool (feces) is normally firm and formed. Soft stool or diarrhea can be associated with different medical problems such as intestinal parasites (worms), inflammatory bowel disease and dietary indiscretion (eating things other than cat food). If your cat has soft stool, inform your veterinary healthcare team so that they can pursue diagnostic tests to identify the cause.
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