April 2008 Issue

Caring for the Cat with Chronic Illness

Would you be able to provide at-home care for your cat? Here's what to consider.

A cat with chronic illness is one of the greater challenges we face when we share our lives with an animal companion. The challenge involves both medical care — which can be expensive and complicated — and also the necessary emotional involvement. While cats are receiving better veterinary care and better nutrition, they’re also living longer. This is a blessing for cat lovers — but greater age also brings with it the greater likelihood of chronic disease and illness. There are some life-threatening, chronic diseases that are relatively common, says Richard Goldstein, DVM, a lecturer in small animal medicine at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and board-certified by the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine. Kidney disease, or renal failure, is a serious health danger for many cats. "On average, one out of every three cats over the age of 12 develops some renal disease," explains Dr. Goldstein.

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