Cat Treatment Common Cat Diseases

10 Common Cat Diseases

As a cat parent, it is important to recognize the signs and symptoms of common illnesses so you can seek veterinary help for your feline friend in a timely manner if necessary. Check with a cat breeder or animal shelter for your little friend medical history. Below are 10 common disease that can impact your cat:


1. Cancer

Cancer is a class of diseases in which cells grow uncontrollably, invade surrounding tissue and may spread to other areas of the body. As with people, cats can get various kinds of cancer. The disease can be localized (confined to one area, like a tumor) or generalized (spread throughout the body). Symptoms of cancer in cats may include:

  • Lumps (which are not always malignant, but are always worth having a veterinarian examine)
  • Swelling
  • Persistent sores or skin infections
  • Abnormal discharge from any part of the body
  • Bad breath
  • Listlessness, lethargy or other marked change in behavior
  • Weight loss
  • Sudden lameness
  • Diarrhea or vomiting
  • Scaly and/or red skin patches
  • Decreased or loss of appetite
  • Difficulty breathing, urinating or defecating
  • Change in behavior

2. Diabetes

Diabetes in cats is a complex disease caused by either a lack of the hormone insulin or an inadequate response to insulin. Her digestive system breaks food into various components, including glucose, which is carried into her cells by insulin. When a cat does not produce insulin or cannot utilize it normally, her blood sugar levels elevate. This result to hyperglycemia, if it left untreated, it can cause many complicated health problems for a cat. The following are common signs that your cat may be diabetic:

  • Change in appetite (either increased or decreased)
  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst/increase in water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Urinating in areas other than litter box
  • Unusually sweet-smelling breath
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Unkempt hair coat
  • Urinary tract infection

3. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may not show symptoms until years after the initial infection occurred. A cat’s immune system is severely weakened once the disease takes hold. This makes the cat easily infected to various secondary infections.

Thus, the infected cats should be receiving supportive medical care and kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages. If your cat is showing any of the following common symptoms, please have examined by your veterinarian:

  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Disheveled coat
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal appearance or inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Inflammation of the mouth (stomatitis)
  • Dental disease
  • Skin redness or hair loss
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Frequent urination, straining to urinate or urinating outside of litter box
  • Behavior change

4. Feline Leukemia Virus (FelV)

Feline leukemia virus is a transmittable RNA retrovirus that can severely inhibit a cat’s immune system. It is one of the most commonly diagnosed causes of disease and death in domestic cats. The virus does not always manifest symptoms right away, hence any new cat entering a household—and any sick cat should be tested for FeLV. Cats can be infected and show no signs. Others may exhibit common sign from:

  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Pale or inflamed gums
  • Poor coat condition
  • Abscesses
  • Fever
  • Upper respiratory infections
  • Diarrhea and vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Changes in behavior
  • Vision or other eye problems
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Reproductive problems (in females)
  • Jaundice
  • Chronic skin disease
  • Respiratory distress
  • Lethargy

5. Heartworm

Heartworm is increasingly being recognized as an underlying cause of health problems in domestic cats that been spread by infected mosquitoes. Cats are an atypical host for heartworms. Despite its name, heartworm primarily causes lung disease in cats. It is an important concern for any cat owner living in areas densely populated by mosquitoes, and prevention should be discussed with a veterinarian. These are the common signs may indicate that your cat has been infected:

  • Persistent cough
  • Breathing difficulties (panting, wheezing, rapid or open-mouthed breathing)
  • Depression
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Sporadic vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Sudden death

High Rise Syndrome

Many pet parents eagerly open their windows to enjoy the weather during the summer months. Unfortunately, unscreened windows pose a real danger to cats, who fall out of them so often that the veterinary profession has a name for the complaint High Rise Syndrome. A bird or other animal attraction can be distracting enough to cause them to lose their balance and fall. Most cats fall accidentally from high-rise windows, terraces or fire escapes. Falls can result in shattered jaws, punctured lungs, broken limbs and pelvises and even death.


Rabies is a viral disease that affects the brain and spinal cord of all mammals, including cats, dogs and humans. Rabies is most often transmitted through a bite from an infected animal. This preventable disease has been reported in every state except Hawaii.

The risk for contracting rabies runs highest if your cat is exposed to wild animals especially feral cat which remain a reservoir host for the rabies virus. Outbreaks can occur in populations of wild animals (most often raccoons, bats, skunks and foxes in this country) or in areas where there are significant numbers of unvaccinated, free-roaming dogs and cats. Also, unvaccinated cats who are allowed to roam outdoors are at the highest risk for rabies infection. The following are common symptom showing for rabies:

  • Changes in behavior (including aggression, restlessness and lethargy),
  • Increased vocalization
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weakness
  • Disorientation
  • Paralysis
  • Seizures
  • Sudden death


Ringworm is not caused by a worm at all but it is actually a fungus! A fungus that infected the skin, hair and nails. It is not uncommon in cats actually and this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. This disease also known as dermatophilosis, ringworm can spreads to other pets in the household and also to humans. Common symptoms of ringworm in cats include:

  • Skin lesions that typically appear on the head, ears and forelimbs.
  • Ringworm can cause flaky bald patches that sometimes look red in the center.
  • In mild cases, there may be localized areas of redness or simply dandruff, while more severe infections can spread over a cat’s entire body.
  • It’s also possible for a pet to carry ringworm spores and not show any symptoms whatsoever.

Upper Respiratory Infections

A cat’s upper respiratory tract from the nose, throat and sinus area is susceptible to infections caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. Symptoms may differ depending on the cause and location of the infection, but most common clinical signs of upper respiratory problems in cats include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Runny nose
  • Cough
  • Clear to colored nasal discharge
  • Gagging, drooling
  • Fever
  • Loss of or decreased appetite
  • Rapid breathing
  • Nasal and oral ulcers
  • Squinting or rubbing eyes
  • Open-mouth breathing
  • Depression


Cats can acquire a variety of intestinal parasites easily, including some that are commonly referred to as worms. Infestations of intestinal worms can cause a variety of symptoms. Sometimes cats demonstrate few to no outward signs of infection, and the infestation can go undetected despite being a potentially serious health problem. Some feline parasitic worms are hazards for human health as well. Some common clinical signs include:

  • Diarrhea
  • Worms visible in stool or segments of worm seen near anus
  • Bloody stool
  • Bloating or round, potbellied appearance to abdomen
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Anemia
  • Coughing
  • Trouble breathing

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