Common Feline Illnesses
Since cats are known for being independent and stoic animals, it isn't always easy for their owners to tell the difference between a minor concern and a serious health issue. That is why it’s so important to understand the signs and symptoms of common cat health problems.
Below, our Olive Branch veterinarians share just a few of the most common cat illnesses and diseases we see.
Like humans, cats can suffer from diabetes if their body is unable to produce insulin or have an inadequate insulin response. Feline diabetes is a serious concern, but thankfully, it can be managed. Some cats are even able to go into remission with proper treatment.
If diabetes is poorly managed, the disease can lead to numerous health problems such as nerve disorders, and may even shorten your cat's lifespan. Diabetes in cats can also result in severe emergencies. Treatment can include insulin injections and will be focused on the long-term management of this condition.
The cause of diabetes in cats can be due to genetics, obesity, or pancreatic disease. Symptoms of diabetes in cats include:
- Increased thirst
- Increased urination
- Increased or decreased appetite
- Motor function problems
Upper Respiratory Infections
An upper respiratory infection (URI) is when a cat suffers an infection of the nose, sinuses, mouth, or throat. Several infectious viruses and bacteria contribute to these infections.
During a URI, also known as a cold, cats experience inflammation and drainage in the mucous membranes of their throat and nose. Cats will often have drainage from their eyes and nose and experience significant sneezing.
URIs are among the most contagious cat illnesses. The excessive secretions and sneezing contribute to the spread of bacteria or viruses from cat to cat.
If your cat has an upper respiratory infection, you may notice some of the following symptoms:
- Loss of appetite
- Gagging or drooling
- Runny nose
Cancer in Cats
There are many different forms of cancer a cat can develop, with the most common being lymphoma. While most people associate a tumor as an indication of cancer, it is not the only symptom, nor are all tumors cancerous. Many cases of feline cancer go unnoticed, making routine veterinary exams so important when it comes to early detection and better treatment outcomes. As one of the most serious cat illnesses, cancer is unfortunately quite common with about 20% of cats developing the disease.
Cats who have tested positive for FIV or FeLV are at a higher risk of developing cancer. Additional factors like diet and exposure to secondhand smoke also increase the risk. Genetics can also be a contributing factor, as Siamese cats have an increased chance of developing cancer compared to other breeds.
Symptoms of feline cancer include:
- Lumps or bumps that change in size or shape
- Sores that do not heal
- Unexplained bleeding or discharge
- Marked increase or decrease in appetite
- Chronic weight loss
- Difficulty urinating or defecating
An effective treatment plan may be able to be developed depending on whether the tumor is caught and diagnosed early enough, the type of cancer, the extent of the disease, and the specific location of the tumor. Treatment options including radiation, surgery, and chemotherapy are often used to treat feline cancer.
Cat Illnesses That Affect Humans
Although we all love our feline companions, cat owners should note that cats can carry harmful germs that can be transmitted to people. These conditions can range from minor skin infections to serious illnesses.
When cats transmit a disease to a human, it is likely caught after the owner handles the pet's food, poop, toys, or bed. A person having an open wound is also an easy point of contact for germs to infect a human. The best way for you to prevent yourself from getting sick is to thoroughly wash your hands after handling, cleaning up after, or feeding your cat, especially if they appear to be sick.
Some common illnesses that are transmitted from cats to humans include:
Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.