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Vail pets: Enough about dogs – let’s talk cats

Nadine Lober
Vail, CO Colorado

VAIL, Colorado –We tend to focus on dogs a lot in Colorado’s Vail Valley because we see them everywhere. For one thing, cats don’t tend to ride in cars.

But many people have cats at home and love them just as much. Some cats behave like dogs and others are very independent. I will touch on cat care and some common diseases to look out for.

Kittens need vaccines just like dogs – kittens also get rabies vaccines. Our pets can contract rabies (the disease) if bitten by a rabid animal, or even if a rabid animal’s saliva penetrates an open wound on your cat. If you have an outdoor cat then it should also get a yearly feline leukemia vaccine.



Most adult cats are free fed and sleep about 16 hours, so they tend to get overweight. A fat cat can develop a fatty liver disease called hepatic lipidosis, which can be fatal. So it is very important to keep your cat at an appropriate weight. If your cat is overweight then there are “less active” cat diets and even diets designed to help cats lose weight.

Behavioral issues seem prominent in cats. I seem to be asked every week about a cat’s strange behavior. Most common is a cat that decides one morning to avoid using the litter box.



There may be a psychological issue there but it’s hard to sit a cat on the couch and ask him what is bothering him. So we have to ask the owner many questions about the recent changes in the cat’s life or in the household.

Diabetes can occur at any time. It is easily detected by symptoms such as drinking a lot, urinating a lot and lethargy. Blood work and urinalysis are the tests to diagnose diabetes. It is treatable but sometimes difficult to manage. Insulin injections are required to treat diabetes.

Hyperthyroidism is another disease seen in cats. Again blood work will help diagnose it. Cats with hyperthyroidism have a hyperactive thyroid, causing their metabolism to be very high. These cats eat a lot but are very thin, and tend to vomit, as well. There are a few treatment options for hyperthyroidism.



Cats can live a long time, some till they are 20 years old, and some develop kidney failure as they age. They will get thin, may vomit or become lethargic. If caught early enough, it can be managed for a while or longer.

Diet is important in some diseases as in kidney failure so it is beneficial to get blood work done on older animals to detect such problems sooner rather than later. Cats can also develop arthritis, causing a stiff gait and pain. The cats will then avoid jumping, but can benefit from arthritis medication.

Fur balls are very common in medium to long hair cats. By constant grooming, a cat will swallow hair that is shedding. This can cause a fur ball in the stomach, which irritates the lining and eventually will be thrown up. Laxatone is a gel that you give orally to your shedding cats to help avoid this problem.

Male cats are more likely to develop a urinary blockage. It is fairly easy to detect because it gets painful. He will try to urinate frequently and no urine or a few drops will come out. Sometimes blood will dribble out. The bladder will get large and thickened. It is important to see your veterinarian quickly to relieve the obstruction so that he can urinate again.

These are just a few topics for the cat owners, but as you know there are many more. Always observe your pets, because you owners know their behavior better then us vets and we you can help us diagnose the problem.

Dr. Nadine Lober can be reached at 970-949-7972


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