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 (ARDS) is a life-threatening complication of critical illness. These underlying critical illnesses may include sepsis, pancreatitis, pneumonia (either due to an infection or the inhalation of foreign materials), trauma, near-drowning, and other severe illnesses. In ARDS, massive inflammation and the release of various inflammatory chemicals leads to the leaking of capillaries within the lungs. Signs of ARDS include increased respiratory rate, blue discoloration to skin and mucous membranes due to poor oxygen delivery, and occasionally coughing. Treatment of ARDS is primarily focused on supportive care and addressing the underlying critical illness.
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.
One of the most common medical conditions affecting cats is allergy. Flea allergy, food allergies, atopy, and contact allergies are examples of allergies in cats, with flea allergy being the most common cause. Flea allergy is a response to proteins or antigens present in the flea's saliva, and just one fleabite may cause such intense itching that the cat may severely scratch or chew itself, leading to the removal of large amounts of hair. Food allergy testing is conducted by feeding an elimination or hypoallergenic diet. If your cat's symptoms improve after the food trial, a presumptive diagnosis of food allergy is made.
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 at approximately the four o'clock and eight o'clock positions. The walls of the sac produce a foul smelling fluid which is released whenever the 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 (for several days until the swelling and inflammation have subsided. If a cat has several episodes of anal sac disease, and diet or supplements 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.