It's a lot easier for the layperson to tell when a fellow human is feeling poorly than it is to understand the inner workings of a cat. For one thing, people use words to tell you what hurts and when it started. And for another thing, we, as fellow people, have a little insight into what's healthy human behavior and what isn't. When the toddler cries and then vomits lunch, we sense something's not right, even if the child can't verbalize the problem. But when your cat brings up a hairball, does that mean she is ill? When your cat meows, it's hard to know if it means "Hey, pet me," or "I feel rotten."
To know when cats are acting oddly, you need to know what normal is. The Veterinarians' Guide to Your Cat's Symptoms starts off describing a healthy cat body, from skin, hair, eyes, ears, and teeth to the inner workings of the cardiovascular, digestive, urinary, respiratory, and musculoskeletal systems. This picture of feline health is followed by a chapter on how to keep those systems healthy, with advice on choosing a veterinarian, plus vaccinations, spaying and neutering, nutrition, and litter boxes.
Part 2 does an excellent job of covering accidents, medical emergencies, and diseases that could threaten your cat. This section discusses broken bones, burns, and poisoning; conditions such as hypoglycemia, pneumonia, seizures, and pyometra; as well as infectious and parasitic diseases. For each, it tells you what to look for in your cat and when to dash off to the veterinary hospital for emergency treatment. There's a chapter on feline first aid, as well.
And if you suspect your kitty isn't up to snuff but aren't sure? Part 3 is where you can ensure that your cat's behavior is normal, with more than 130 common feline symptoms and flow charts explaining how to interpret them. Associated signs, possible conditions, and recommended actions are listed for each symptom. Perhaps your cat is showing signs of depressed appetite, with difficulty breathing and possibly coughing as well. These could be signs of cardiac disease, pneumonia, or even lung cancer, and a trip to the emergency clinic for x-rays is strongly suggested. On the other hand, maybe your cat is eating wool. The chart says this condition (termed Wool Eater, a form of compulsive behavior) is not unusual for Siamese cats, but could lead to vomiting or intestinal obstruction; the recommended action is to put the wool out of kitty's reach, and maybe see a veterinarian for behavior-modification medication. Symptoms such as depression and lethargy are treated in depth, as are diarrhea, gagging, lameness, nasal discharge, and various sorts of vomiting.
With appendices that list congenital defects and disorders, poisonous household products, and a glossary of veterinary medical terms, this is a remarkably useful reference for anyone who loves cats. --Stephanie Gold
From Library Journal
Most people would agree that it is difficult to recognize the signs of illness in our petsAa problem compounded by their inability to communicate with us in our own language. The authors of these concise and affordable books are all veterinarians (save one) who believe that the easiest way to detect disease early in pets is to educate the owner about the animals' normal bodily functions and behavior. In each book, Part 1 covers the healthy body, with overviews of the senses and the cardiovascular, digestive, nervous, respiratory, and other systemsAall presented in lay readers' terms. There are also sections on proper veterinary care, vaccinations, nutrition, grooming, and the importance of spaying/neutering procedures. In Part 2, the authors give insight into common accidents and medical emergencies (such as diarrhea, seizures, poisoning, and heat prostration), contagious and infectious diseases, and first aid care. A valuable and extensive index of signs and symbols is included along with appendixes covering household products that are poisonous, congenital defects and disorders, and medical terms and diseases mentioned in the text. Both titles are recommended for public libraries, although concerned pet owners will also want to keep a copy at home.AEdell Marie Schaefer, Brookfield P.L., WI
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.