Cats can suffer from a number of different illnesses.
Some breeds of cats are prone to hereditary health problems. For example, Persian cats are prone to eye infections, and Siamese cats are prone to congenital heart problems.
If you are buying a pedigreed cat from a breeder, make sure that it is healthy before you buy it.
A shelter will provide you with a shelter cat’s medical history.
If you adopt a stray cat or purchase a cat from a pet shop, be sure to have it examined by a vet right away.
Regardless of how healthy you cat is when you first get it, your cat may become ill later on.
Always keep an eye out for signs of illness in your cat. Thesecan include lethargy, weight loss, change in appetite, a change in grooming habits and a change in litterbox habits.
A cat that refuses to eat or that urinates or defecates outside the litterbox is not being “difficult”; it is telling you that something is wrong.
Listen to your instincts if they tell you that there is a problem with how your cat looks or how your cat is behaving.
Always take your cat to the vet if you suspect the cat might not be feeling well.
Feline Leukemia is a contagious disease caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV). It is spread via the saliva. More cats die from FeLV than from any other viral illness.
FeLV can cause the immune system to break down. It can cause cancer. There is a vaccine for FeLV.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) breaks down a cat’s immune system in much the same way that HIV breaks down a human being’s immune system.
It is mostly spread through bite wounds.
There is no cure for FIV.
Cats get cancer just like humans do.
Cells grow abnormally, and their growth cannot be controlled.
Cancer of the lymph nodes, or lymphosarcoma, is the most common form of feline cancer.
It is caused by the Feline Leukemia Virus
Feline panleukopenia is also called feline infectious enteritis or feline distemper.
It is usually found in places where large numbers of cats are concentrated together, such as in large catteries.
An adult with the feline panleukopenia virus usually does not develop any symptoms unless it has a problem with it its immune system. Symptoms include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, vomiting, diarrhea and dehydration. Brain damage or death will eventually occur.
There is a vaccine for feline panleukopenia.
Kittens whose mother was exposed to feline panleukopenia develop a condition known as cerebellar hypoplasia (CH). The cerebellum – the part of the brain that controls balance and coordination – does not develop properly in a kitten with CH.
Cats with CH have trouble keeping their balance. They move in a jerky manner, fall over frequently, and have difficulty walking. Some may never be able to walk at all.
A cat with CH can live a healthy, happy life if accommodation is made for its disability. Because the cat is born with the disease, it will develop good coping skills as it grows.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is caused by a virus. Like feline panleukopenia, it is most common in places where many cats are crowded together.
Symptoms of FIP include fever, lethargy, lack of appetite, weight loss and depression.
Cats with FIP may develop fluid or abdomen in the chest, which can cause the cat to have trouble breathing.
There is a vaccine for FIP
Like all other mammals, cats can develop rabies. The rabies virus is passed via saliva. A vaccine for rabies is available
Cats can develop diabetes, just as humans can. Feline diabetes, like human diabetes, is associated with being overweight. Feeding a cat food with a high carbohydrate content can contribute to the development or control of diabetes.
Symptoms of feline diabetes are extreme thirst, extreme hunger, excessive urination and urination outside the litter box, lethargy and weight loss.
Diabetes in a cat is usually controlled with insulin, but it may sometimes be controlled with diet or with other medication.
A diabetic cat can live a long, healthy life if its blood glucose levels are kept under control through frequent monitoring of glucose in the blood and urine.
Because cats are obligate carnivores while human beings are omnivores, a healthy diet for a diabetic cat is not the same as a healthy diet for a diabetic human.
Heart disease in cats is also associated with obesity.
Some breeds, including American Shorthairs, Persians and Maine Coons have a tendency to develop heart disease.
Cats that do not get enough of an amino acid known as taurine can develop heart disease. They may also go blind. Commercial cat foods now have taurine added to them, so you do not have to worry about your cat having a taurine deficiency if you give it a diet of commercial food. When meat is cooked, a large amount of the taurine is destroyed, so if you feed your cat home-cooked food, you should give it taurine supplements.
Disorders of the Urinary Tract and Kidneys
Cats may develop a number of different urinary tract and kidney disorders. Making sure that your cat has access to plenty of water can help to prevent such problems.
Feeding your cat dry food may contribute to the development of kidney disorders, as it may increase the chance that will become dehydrated. In nature, cats do not drink much water. They get most of their liquid from the food that they eat.
Urinary Tract Infections
Urinary tract infections (UTIs), or bladder infections, are very common in cats. Most cats will have at least one UTI is in its life.
Symptoms of a UTI are frequent urination – possibly outside the litter box – bloodstained urine, and frequent licking of the genitals.
Kidney stones in cats are usually small crystals, rather than large stones. They crystals resemble like rough sand or pebbles.
They can cause the cat extreme pain and block the urinary tract.
Symptoms can include frequent urination, urinating frequently but producing little urine, straining to urinate, urinating outside the litter box, licking of the genitals and vomiting.
Kidney stones/crystals quickly lead to death if left untreated, because they can completely block the urethra, so the cat cannot urinate at all. A cat showing symptoms should be taken to a vet immediately.
Chronic Renal Failure
Chronic Renal Failure (CRF) is a disease that can affect older cats. In CRF, the kidneys slowly deteriorate.
CRF can be detected through blood tests of kidney function. It is important for older cats to have such blood tests regularly.
Ultimately, CRF is fatal.
However, until the final stages of the disease, a cat with CRF can live comfortably with the help of diet adjustments, medication and administrations of subcutaneous fluid. Administration of subcutaneous fluid can be done at home.
Parasites that infect cats can include roundworms, tapeworms, hookworms, coccidian, gardia and toxoplasmosis.
Sometimes the only sign of a parasite infection is the presence of parasites, or “worms”, in the vomit or the feces.
When you get a new cat or kitten, it should be wormed (given medicine that kills parasites).
Outdoor cats should be tested for parasites regularly.
Indoor cats are much less likely to encounter parasites, as parasites usually come from soil or feces.
Some of these parasites can be transmitted to humans. Roundworms can cause blindness in small children. If a pregnant woman contracts toxoplasmosis, the fetus can be harmed severely. Toxoplasmosis can cause brain damage in people with compromised immune systems.
Upper Respiratory Infections
Cats can develop upper respiratory infections, just like people, with runny noses, sneezing and coughing. A cat with an upper respiratory infection should be taken to a vet to ensure that it is not serious.
The cat will need rest and fluids. If it is not eating, you can try feeding it human baby food to stimulate the appetite.
The vet may give your cat medication.
An untreated respiratory infection can lead to pneumonia.
Upper respiratory infections in cats are very contagious and are very common in large catteries where many cats are crowded together. They are especially dangerous to very young kittens whose immune systems are not fully developed, as well as to older cats whose immune systems are compromised for other reasons.
Like humans, cats can have allergies, so a cat that is coughing or sneezing may be having an allergic reaction to something.
Skin problems, such as red skin, flaky skin, scabs, hair loss and itching (signified by frequent scratching) can be caused by many different problems, including fleas, parasites -such as ringworm – and allergies.
A cat that is not feeling well for any reason may stop grooming itself, which can itself lead to skin problems.
Some cats will groom themselves excessively when they are under stress – a behavior that can cause extreme hair loss. This condition, which is resembles Obsessive Compulsive Disorder in people, is known as psychogenic alopecia.
The most effective cure for psychogenic alopecia is to remove the cause of stress. However, a cat with this condition may be given antidepressants.
Some cat breeds, including the Siamese, are prone to psychogenic alopecia.
Vomiting, diarrhea and constipation can be symptoms of many different disorders. A cat with digestive problems should be seen by a vet, who will determine the cause of the problem.
A change in a cat’s diet can cause vomiting. When introducing a new food to your cat, it is best to introduce it slowly, to give the cat a chance to adjust.
Some cats will bolt down their food very quickly, and then immediately regurgitate the undigested food. This behavior can be caused by stress. You should try to determine the cause of the stress and relieve it as much as possible.
If you have a cat that frequently regurgitates undigested food, you should soon be able to distinguish this type of regurgitation from vomiting that is indicative of a severe medical problem.
Eye problems in cats include red eyes, cloudy eyes, change in eye color, pawing at the eyes, excessive tears, eye discharge or a visible third eye.
The cause can be infection, allergy, physical injury, or tear duct overflow due to a congenital disorder.
If your cat has a problem with its eyes (or an eye) it should be taken to a vet so the cause can be determined and your cat can be treated.
If you cat is having problems with its ears, it will scratch them or shake its head.
The most common cause of ear problems is ear mites, which can be removed by a vet or by you at home.
If your cat has bad breath, it probably has a gum infection. However, bad breath can sometimes be caused by a virus.
Brushing your cat’s teeth regularly can help avoid tooth problems. There are toothpastes and toothbrushes especially for cats on the market.
Your cat may benefit from regular dental cleanings at the vet. Your cat will have to be under general anesthesia when its teeth are being cleaned.