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Common Illnesses in Cats
- By Drew Pilton

1. Hip dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common concern among Ragdoll owners. Although there are no recorded cases, the possibility is high because of the Ragdollís bulk and weight distribution. Itís important to get a written health guarantee from your breeder to make sure your cat is safe.

2. Feline hypertrophic myopathy

A more serious condition is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM), a thickening of the heart muscle common in many cat breeds. Feline HCM is potentially life-threatening, and in many cases the disease is only discovered when the cat dies at a young age. Studies have shown that HCM is inherited, and runs along several Ragdoll lines. Although it can occur at any age, it is more likely to occur in older cats who would otherwise have passed the disease on to offspring.

3. Constipation

Ragdoll cats normally pass waste one to two times a day. Less frequent or difficult bowel movements are usually a sign of constipation. A constipated cat will frequently run to the litter box but strain to pass stools, sometimes crying or licking the anal area. Lethargy and loss of appetite are also common symptoms. Advanced constipation can cause your cat to vomit liquid faeces.

Although occasional constipation is not a cause for concern, frequent constipation may require medical attention. Chronic constipation may be caused by underlying problems, such as digestive obstruction. This can be as simple as string or hairballs, or something more serious such as a tumour. In either case, the blockage can harden and enlarge the colon, which leads to painful bowel movements.

If your cat is chronically constipated, have him or her checked by your vet immediately. Surgery may be necessary to remove tumours and blockages. These can easily be removed when detected early, but they can be fatal if allowed to develop or spread.

4. Dental problem

A catís mouth creates a warm, moist environment conducive to bacterial growth. Bacteria and tartar can build up on your catís teeth, and without occasional brushing, this can lead to gum disease or periodontitis. Usually, the only symptoms are toothache and exposed roots, which are hard to detect.

To ensure good dental health, brush your catís teeth regularly. It may take two to three weeks for your cat to get used to regular brushing, but it will keep bacteria and harmful microorganisms at bay. You should always use special cat toothpaste; human toothpaste is too strong for regular cat use. Giving them high-quality dry food to chew on can help keep the teeth clean between brushings.

Drew is the writer of 'The Complete Ragdoll Cat Keepers Handbook', to find out more visit:
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illnesses in cats