20 Common Cat Diseases to Be on the Lookout For

sick cat

Having a pet is a rewarding experience, probably one of the most rewarding things that you will ever do in your life. Some people are dedicated dog people and other people prefer cats. Every once in awhile, you run into someone that likes to have both types of animals around at the same time. If you are going to have cats in your life, you should plan on having them for about 15 years, as this is the common lifespan for most cats. With that being said, there are a lot of diseases that routinely affect cats. Some of them are relatively minor and might resolve on their own while others are far more serious and require immediate veterinary care. Below you will find a list of 20 of the most common diseases in cats, along with some important information about each one.

1. Feline Diabetes

Just like people often contract diabetes, so too do cats. Typically, a cat contracts diabetes later on in life and it is often the result of feeding your cat an unhealthy diet for the duration of its life. In addition, having a cat that isn’t as active as it should be can also be a problem. In some cases, you might run into the rare cat that was actually diagnosed with the disease relatively early in life. In any case, making sure the cat has a balanced diet and a good exercise regimen can help you effectively manage the disease, along with routine veterinary care. If your cat has feline diabetes, it is imperative that you follow the veterinarian’s instructions to the letter and that you get your cat to the veterinarian’s office if you notice any sudden changes in its condition or the way it acts.

2. Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)

Cats routinely contract urinary tract infections. In cats, the disease is far more common in males than it is in females. It is thought that much of it is linked to feeding your cat a poor diet. If you notice that your cat is having a difficult time urinating or it seems to be in pain while it is doing so, it is time to go to the vet. At that point, antibiotics can be given to correct the situation and your vet may give you special instructions about feeding your cat a higher-quality diet in order to prevent future occurrences of the disease.

3. Worms

Unfortunately, cats can contract worms just like any other animal. Worms are parasites that can often appear more in outdoor cats than cats that spend the majority of their time indoors. Typically, the entire problem can be avoided by having your cat treated for parasites on a routine basis. This is a part of basic veterinary care and it is something that you should have your cat checked for when you first get it and at least on an annual basis thereafter. As long as your cat is on an effective parasite preventative, you shouldn’t have a problem with worms. However, if you start to notice that your cat is losing weight or frequently vomiting, you should have it checked just to make sure that the preventative is still working.

4. Rabies

No one wants to hear that their cat has rabies. It is a sad situation because it means that the cat will have to be humanely destroyed, but it is also a situation that is entirely preventable. As long as you get your cat vaccinated for rabies on an annual basis, you can avoid all of the heartbreak that a situation like this can cause. Choosing not to get your cat vaccinated leaves it exposed and in fact, it puts you and everyone around you in danger. There is no cure for rabies, so if your cat starts to exhibit behavioral changes or an aversion to drinking water, it is definitely time to do something. In a case like this, your safety is at risk so you are better off calling animal control and letting them handle the situation.

5. Feline Distemper

This is probably one of the scariest diseases that your cat might contract. It frequently affects kittens and younger cats. A cat that has distemper is going to appear very lethargic and will likely either refuse to eat food or will vomit everything it tries to eat. It may have excessive diarrhea that cannot be controlled and it may even exhibit problems breathing. This is a true emergency because feline distemper is often fatal. If you suspect that your cat has it, get your cat to the vet immediately so that an attempt at effective treatment can be made. Even with veterinary treatment, there is no guarantee that your cat will survive, but it is important to at least make the effort.

6. Feline Leukemia

A lot of people think of feline leukemia as the same type of blood disorder that affects humans, but truth is, feline leukemia is a lot different. First and foremost, it is a disease that is contagious and can be passed from one cat to another. When the disease is not treated, it is almost always fatal but there is a chance that the disease can be successfully treated if it is caught early enough by a veterinarian. More importantly, there is a vaccine available for it so your cat should be vaccinated on an annual basis. Doing so and prevent the cat from having the disease in the first place, effectively eliminating all of the problems that it can potentially cause.

7. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

This is a rather scary disease because it directly attacks the immune system of your cat. Worse yet, your cat can actually be infected with the disease for years before it starts to show any symptoms of the disease whatsoever. Once it does start displaying symptoms, it makes it virtually impossible for the cat to fight off any type of illness. In other words, something as simple as a cold could prove fatal for your cat. Again, avoiding this type of tragedy is central to getting good veterinary care and preventive care along the way as opposed to just waiting until something crops up. With that being said, if your cat starts to display symptoms of illness, it is definitely time to make an appointment with your vet as soon as possible.

cats sleep 15-20 hours a day

8. Cancer

Unfortunately, cats are predisposed to getting cancer just like humans, dogs, horses, and a variety of other animals. Making sure that your cat has a regular physical exam on an annual basis can help detect the disease and may help you and your veterinarian successfully treat the disease so that your cat can live longer, but it really depends on exactly what is going on. Some experts think that cats who get cancer do so because they are fed a low quality diet throughout the duration of their lives, but it is not yet possible to determine exactly why some cats contract the disease and others don’t. The best thing you can do for your cat is to feed it a high-quality diet, get regular veterinary check-ups, make sure it has all its vaccinations, and take it to your vet as soon as you notice any change in the way it acts.

9. Feline Pancreatitis

Again, most cats that get feline pancreatitis do so because they are fed a low quality diet. This is a recurring theme in a lot of diseases that routinely affect the cats. Therefore, you should always make sure that you feed your cat a high-quality diet and in most cases, you should provide a mixture of dry and wet food. Of course, your veterinarian can always guide you when it comes to how you should be feeding your cat and the type of food it should be getting. As far as feline pancreatitis goes, it is important to realize that your cat might be suffering from the disease if it is vomiting and appears to be in a great deal of pain. If you notice these symptoms, make an appointment with your veterinarian right away because this is a disease that can easily be fatal if not treated immediately.

sleeping cat

10. Heartworms

The truly sad thing about heartworms is that it is a disease that is completely preventable. If you don’t have your cat treated for heartworms on a monthly basis and you don’t get regular checkups each year, your cat could wind up having heartworms and that could end up being fatal. This is especially true if you let your cat outside for several hours each day. Heartworms are caused by mosquito bites from an infected mosquito. The scary thing is that it only takes one bite from an infected mosquito to cause heart worms in your cat. The way to prevent the disease is to get your cat screened for heartworms as soon as you get it and then get it on a preventative that you give it every month for the duration of its life.

11. Kidney Disease

One of the most common diseases in cats is kidney disease. Although experts are not quite certain why so many cats are prone to getting the disease, it is thought that a lot of it has to do with the diet the cat is being fed. In other words, if you feed your cat a low-quality diet, there is a train of thought that says it is more likely to contract kidney disease at some point in its life. The disease especially affects older cats. Therefore, you should always feed your cat a high-quality diet and make sure it has plenty of water. If you start to notice that it seems to be in a lot of pain or is lethargic, make sure that you make an appointment with your veterinarian right away.

Siamese cat

12. Diarrhea

Cats of all ages frequently exhibit diarrhea. In fact, it is one of the most common diseases in cats and frequently is something that cat owners just have to put up with. It can be a harbinger of more serious diseases but much of the time, it is an indicator of something the cat ate that isn’t agreeing with it and it will resolve on its own. You should be concerned when the diarrhea lasts for more than a few days and is not resolving or when it is bloody. In those cases, do not hesitate to make an appointment with your veterinarian right away

13. Dental Issues

For some reason, cats have a tendency to exhibit a lot of dental issues. Unfortunately, these issues can lead to larger health concerns later on down the road, so it is important to deal with them as soon as you notice a problem. Typically, most dental problems can be avoided by getting your cat an annual check-up and having its teeth cleaned by a qualified veterinarian. That way, your vet can check the cat for more serious problems and then advise you on how you should proceed from that point forward.

14. Obesity

Cats that don’t get enough exercise can easily become obese. Just as in humans, obesity in cats can cause a whole host of other health problems that don’t need to become a reality. Obesity can be controlled because if you notice your cat gaining weight on a consistent basis, you should take it to your veterinarian in order to determine if it is a medical cause or if it is something related to its diet and a lack of exercise. If it is something medical, you and your veterinarian can come up with a plan to treat the problem. If it turns out to be a problem related to diet and exercise, you can change the cat’s diet and start to ensure that it gets more exercise in order to correct the problem.

15. Urinary Blockage

For some reason, male cats have a tendency to contract a urine urinary blockage, which basically makes it impossible for them to urinate. It can be an excruciatingly painful disease and if not treated early on, it becomes fatal. More often than not, it affects male cats that only eat dry food. Therefore, you should be feeding your cat a high-quality mixture of dry and wet and ensuring that you are paying attention to your cat in order to look for any signs of behavioral changes. It is just as important to make sure that your cat gets routine veterinary care.

sleeping cat 2

16. Runny Eyes With Cough

If your cat is suffering from a cough and it has a lot of disgusting stuff coming out of its eyes, it might be because of an upper respiratory infection. This is something that can potentially resolve on its own, but it can also get a lot worse before it gets better. Therefore, you should go ahead and make an appointment with your veterinarian. Typically, a good dose of antibiotics will knock out the disease and make your cat feel better within a couple of days of starting the medication.

17. Vomiting

If you are feeding your cat a low-quality diet or you have a cat that you allow to be outside for several hours a day, you might notice that it vomits on a fairly routine basis. This can be because there is some other disease that is yet to be diagnosed, but it frequently means that your cat is getting into something that it simply can’t keep down. Whether that involves something it finds in the yard or low quality food, it is important that you identify the problem and then take steps to correct the situation. If your cat continues to vomit or seems to vomit almost every day, it is time to make an appointment with your veterinarian in order to find out why.

18. Hotspots

These can prove to be extremely painful for your cat, showing up as large red spots on its skin. The cat typically scratches or bites at these spots and its hair may even fall out in the affected areas. More often than not, this is caused by some type of allergy. There is either something going on with the cat’s immune system or it has gotten into something it is allergic to. While topical treatments are available, it is really a better option for you to take your cat to your veterinarian in order to find out exactly why it is developing these hot spots in the first place. Once that has been determined, a more effective treatment can be developed and will hopefully prevent it from happening again. At the very least, it can effectively treat the hot spots that do develop so your cat can be more comfortable.

19. Dermatitis

Cats routinely contract dermatitis, another skin disease. Typically, it is caused by fleas. You might notice your cat scratching or biting at certain areas on a routine basis. Sometimes, they can do this to the point that they irritate the skin and you have to take steps to correct the situation. If your cat is already doing this, you might have to get a prescription medication to treat the affected areas. However, the best thing that you can do for your cat in this particular case is to ensure that it is on an effective flea preventative throughout its life. This can stop the fleas from biting, thereby stopping the dermatitis from occurring in the first place.

black and white photo of cat

20. Congestive Heart Failure

Unfortunately, this can be one of the saddest things that you might have to go through as a cat owner. Typically, this is a disease that affects cats later on in life but it can affect them at any age. Other things such as obesity also contribute to the potential for developing this disease. Sadly, if your cat has developed congestive heart failure, its condition will have to be carefully managed by your veterinarian. As long as the disease can be successfully managed with changes in the cat’s routine, diet and medications, you and your cat can continue to live a happy life together. However, there is no cure for the disease. Therefore, it tends to be progressive in nature. Once the disease progresses to a certain stage, it is often more humane to put the cat down than it is to allow it to suffer through the final stages of the disease. It is easily one of the saddest things that you will have to confront but it is also a common disease in cats, so it is something that is important for you to know if you plan on owning one.

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