This disease is caused by a virus that attacks the white blood
    cells, making the cat very prone to overwhelming infection. It is often very sudden and severe in onset, with signs of acute vomiting and diarrhoea, and sometimes even sudden death before these signs have timeto develop. 
    Less severe cases may recover with supportive treatment, particularly intravenous fluids to counteract dehydration. 
    Fortunately, there has been a very effective vaccine available to treat this condition for many years, so it has become very uncommon in the UK. However, the virus can survive for long periods in the environment, and sporadic cases are still seen in areas where the normal vaccination protocols have been allowed to lapse. 


    The pleura form a lining outside the lungs and create a potential space between the lungs and the chest wall that can, in some circumstances, fill with fluid. The pressure of the fluid on the lungs will then cause dyspnea (laboured breathing). An affected cat will breathe more rapidly than normal, and the increased effort necessary means that he will be using his abdominal muscles to breathe as well as the normally gentle movement of his chest.
    This is a serious sign of ill health and should not be ignored. It will almost always require further investigation, such as blood tests, imaging of the chest (usually by adiography), and the drawing
    off and analysis of fluid, known as pleurocentesis. There are several possible causes:
    ● Heart failure is the most common cause, especially in older cats, caused by disease of the heart muscle itself. Drug treatment can be given to help control the disease process, but the long-term outlook is very guarded.
    ● Various cancers can cause pleural effusion. Some forms, such as lymphoma of the thymus gland, are more  common in younger cats; but, generally, neoplasia is also more likely to be found in the elderly.
    ● Young cats are more likely to suffer from the effects of injury, such as damage to the diaphragm that can cause a pleural effusion following a fall, or infection that enters the space following penetration from a wound, such as a bite from another cat.
    These causes are more amenable to treatment, but often require the placement of a catheter into the chest to allow fluid to be drained and treatment to be administered. 
    Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease that also tends to affect young cats and may cause a pleural effusion. Analysis of the fluid will help pinpoint the diagnosis, but, sadly, there is no realistic hope of a cure once such signs develop. PNEUMONIA Pneumonia is a lung infection, and relatively rare in adult cats unless their immune system is not functioning properly. In younger animals, it is most commonly triggered by a viral infection, such as with calicivirus, one of the causes of cat flu, but can then become complicated by secondary infection with bacteria. The primary sign of pneumonia is coughing, but severe cases can cause difficulty breathing and may be rapidly fatal. One specific form of the disease is called aspiration pneumonia and results from the inhalation of fluid into the chest. In cats, this can particularly result when attempts are made to force fluids into a reluctant patient that is refusing to drink, or perhaps to take oral medication. For this reason, great care must be taken when administering fluids in this way.


    This is an infection of the womb that results in a build-up of pus within the uterus. This problem is only seen in entire females,
    although, sometimes, a ‘stump pyometra’ can develop at the end of the womb that is left in place after the  spaying operation. If the cervix remains closed, the womb will fill up with pus, distending the abdomen, and the cat will show signs of illness related to the toxins released into the body, such as lethargy, increased thirst, and, sometimes, vomiting. If the cervix opens, a thick, smelly vulval discharge will be seen. The condition often starts as chronic endometritis— a thickening of the lining ofthe womb that results from a hormonal imbalance and is a common cause of a failure to reproduce. Antibiotics alone are not likely to clear the condition, and surgical removal of the womb and ovaries is usually necessary.


    Cats are generally much more fastidious about what they will eat than dogs, so are less likely to ingest poisons. They are also much less able to break down certain poisonous substances within their body, and so may have a severe reaction to a product that may be relatively harmless in other species. Many substances can be poisonous to cats, but the following general principles should be borne in mind:
    ● Many cases of poisoning in cats are accidentally caused by their owners. Never give any medicine that has been prescribed for another species of animal (including humans) unless you have cleared it with your vet first.
    ● Speed is essential when dealing with a case of suspected poisoning. Unless the substance is caustic, you should try to make the cat vomit while it is still in the stomach, by dosing the cat with a small crystal of old-fashioned washing soda, or a strong solution of salt water. However, do not delay unnecessarily trying to administer an emetic, as the vet may need to wash out the stomach under anaesthetic.
    ● Keep any relevant information about the nature of the poison, such as the packet in the case of pesticides, and contact your vet without delay.
    ● If your cat has contaminated his coat with a harmful substance, physically prevent him from grooming himself, preferably by wrapping his body and legs in a towel, until he has been thoroughly cleaned

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