Cat Diseases

This section details many of the feline diseases which can affect your cat and your cat's health. Click on the links below for additional information. Causes, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment and prevention of each cat disease is covered.

  • Abscesses are frequently the result of result of cat fights but any would can become infected and cause an abscess.
  • Allergic Dermatitis is an allergic skin disease which can make your cat very uncomfortable and can result in itching and hair loss.
  • Anal Gland Disease  is frequently responsible for "scooting" behavior, demonstrated as your cat drags his/her anal region across your floor seeking relief from discomfort caused by the anal glands.
  • Cat Scratch Disease / Cat Scratch Fever is primarily a human disorder, often resulting from a cat scratch. Fleas are heavily involved in the transmission of this disease and cats can be infected with the disease without being sick.
  • Cardiomyopathy is a disease of the heart muscle which results from either a very thickened heart muscle, resulting in very small heart chambers (hypertropic cardiomyopathy) or a very dilated (stretched) heart muscle with very large heart chambers (dilated cardiomyopathy). Both forms result in a heart that is unable to function properly in pumping blood throughout the body. Cats are most often affected by the hypertrophic form of the disease and can be affected at a very young age.
  • Cataracts are common, especially in older cats, and cause cloudiness within the lens of the eye. Poor vision and even blindness can result.

  • Coccidiosis is a frequent cause of diarrhea in cats, especially in kittens. It is a contagious disease that can be passed to other animals and testing your cat's feces will be necessary to diagnose coccidiosis, which is caused by a very small parasite.
  • Congestive Heart Failure is a chronic condition in which a weakened heart does not pump enough blood to maintain normal body function. It can be a sequela of feline cardiomyopathy.
  • Conjunctivitis is an inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eyeball and is an extremely common cat disease. It can be caused by irritation of the eyes, infection in the eyes or foreign objects in the eyes as well other less frequent causes.
  • Constipation results in infrequent or difficult bowel movements. Often the stools will be dry and hard. Left untreated, constipation can become life-threatening as your cat becomes weakens and toxins build up in your cat's body.
  • Corneal Injuries are injuries to the eyeball itself. They can be painful and can cause loss of vision if severe. They can be caused by traumatic injuries or self-inflicted when your cat rubs or paws at his/her eyes. There are a number of eye diseases that can make corneal injuries more likely. Certain breeds, such as Persians and Himalayans, are more susceptible.
  • Dental Disease can result in loose or missing teeth. Diseased teeth can be sore and may cause your cat to have difficult chewing food or even to lose his/her appetite. Dental disease is one of the most common diseases seen in middle-aged to older cats.
  • Diabetes is a disease resulting from high blood glucose (sugar) levels. It is caused by a deficiency of insulin, a hormone which is normally produced by the pancreas. It is common in cats and frequently requires administration of insulin for successful treatment.
  • An Ear Hematoma is a blood-filled sac between the cartilage and skin of the flap of the ear. It appears as lump or swelling on the ear flap. Trauma from head shaking is the most frequent cause and ear mites are a common finding in cats with ear hematomas.
  • Ear Mites are parasites which live primarily within the ear canal. They can cause the ears to be itchy and uncomfortable. They are frequently diagnosed but easily treated.
  • Eosinophilic Granuloma Complex  is a chronic disease condition which affects the lips, gums, and skin of affected cats. It is an immune-related disease and allergies have been implicated as a likely cause.
  • External Parasites include pests such as ticks and fleas. These parasites can not only make your cat itchy and uncomfortable, but they can also cause several types of illness which can be passed not only to your cat but also to your dog and even to you.
  • Feline Acne is a bacterial skin disease which frequently appears on the chin of affected cats.
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV or Feline AIDS) is a viral disease which is contagious from cat to cat. It is spread through contact with an infected cat, with wounds sustained while fighting being a common means of infection. It is a serious, often fatal disease. Feline AIDS is a preventable disease but not curable once infected.
  • Feline Asthma is an allergic respiratory condition in cats resulting in sneezing, coughing, wheezing, and difficulty breathing. Symptoms can range from mild to life-threatening.
  • Feline Distemper, also known as feline panleukopenia, is a viral disease which is spread from cat to cat through contact with infected animals or through contact with secretions from infected animals. It can be fatal, especially in young kittens. Vaccination against feline distemper is should be considered a essential part of cat health care.
  • Feline Infectious Anemia (FIA) is caused by a microscopic parasite which attaches to the red blood cells and destroys them, causing anemia (low red blood cell count). The disease is spread through flea infestation.
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a viral disease which is considered to be a contagious type of disease. Symptoms can vary and diagnosis can be frustrating. This can be a devastating disease but there is still much we don't know about it.
  • Feline Leukemia (FeLV) is a serious, often fatal, viral disease which is passed from one cat to another. Testing for leukemia is recommended as part of a routine preventive cat health care program. Vaccination is also available for those cats at risk. Feline leukemia is a preventable disease but is not curable once a cat is infected.
  • Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease or FLUTD, also known as feline urologic syndrome (or FUS), is a collection of diseases which affect the urinary system of cats. Male cats suffering from FLUTD can sometimes develop a life-threatening obstruction of the urinary tract.
  • Hairballs Hairballs, which are present in your cat's vomit, are a common problem seen in cats. Accumulation of hair in the stomach of your cat is a direct result of the significant portion of your catís life that is spent grooming. It has been estimated that cats groom themselves for up to 1/3 of their waking hours. Hairballs are also known as trichobezoars.
  • Heartworm in cats is less commonly seen than in dogs, but it is a threat and one of the symptoms associated with heartworm disease in cats is sudden death. For this reason, preventive medications are often recommended as part of a preventive cat health care program. Feline heartworm disease frequently results in lung damage leading to Heartworm Associated Respiratory Disease (HARD) in affected cats. HARD can mimic the symptoms of feline asthma.
  • Hyperthyroidism is common disease in middle-age to older cats. It is caused by an excessive secretion of thyroid hormone. Symptoms include weight loss, enormous appetite, poor hair coat, hyperactivity, heavy breathing, coughing, vomiting and diarrhea. The classic presentation for feline hyperthyroidism is an older cat which is eating ravenously but still losing weight.
  • Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD) is a chronic disease of the gastro-intestinal tract. It can be a frustrating disease and frequently causes vomiting and diarrhea for affected cats. There are many factors which may contribute to feline IBD, including parasites, food allergies, and other causes of gastrointestinal irritation.
  • Intestinal Parasites include worms and other parasites which live inside of your cat's intestinal tract. These parasites are frequently diagnosed by analyzing the feces microscopically. Regular fecal examinations and worming as necessary should be part of your preventive cat health care program. Common internal parasites seen in cats are roundworms, hookworms and tapeworms.
  • Kidney Disease is common in senior cats and can have many different causes. Symptoms may include excessive thirst, excessive urination, lack of appetite, vomiting, and lethargy. Kidney can be acute, with a sudden onset, or it can be chronic, causing long-term disease. Acute kidney disease can progress to chronic kidney disease.
  • Mammary Tumors are tumors which occur in the mammary glands. They usually occur in female cats, though rarely males may be diagnosed with mammary tumors. Mammary tumors may be benign or malignant (cancerous). Unfortunately, a large percentage of them in cats are cancerous.
  • Mastitis/Metritis/Aglactia is a complex of diseases seen in nursing mothers, involving infection in the uterus and mammary glands and soured milk which may make the nursing kittens ill also.
  • Obesity is one of the most common health issues seen in cats today. Many of our cats are overweight and obesity can predispose your cat to various health problems.

  • Otitis is an ear infection which may be caused by bacteria, yeast, parasites, foreign bodies or tumors within the ear canal. Otitis can be uncomfortable for your cat and symptoms may include shaking the head, scratching at the ears, an odor or discharge from the ears, and reddened, inflamed ear canals which may even bleed. In cats, ear mites are common causes of otitis.
  • Protozoan Diarrhea is a complex of diseases caused by tiny one-celled organisms which infect the intestinal tract of your cat and cause diarrhea. It is particularly common in young cats.
  • Pyoderma is a bacterial infection of the skin. It is frequently seen as a complication of other types of skin disease or trauma with skin allergies and fleas being the most common diseases associated. Food allergies can also contribute.
  • Pyometra is a severe, sometimes fatal, infection of the uterus. It occurs in intact (un-spayed) female cats as a result of hormonal stimulation from going in and out of "heat". The prevention of pyometra is one of the primary health benefits of spaying your female cat. Pyometra is a very preventible disease but is seen much too often.
  • Rabies is a fatal viral disease which affects cats, dogs, people and many other types of animals. Rabies vaccination is an essential part of a preventive cat health care program and many communities have laws requiring the vaccination of cats against rabies.
  • Ringworm is a skin disease causing by a fungus. Dermatomycosis is the more formal name for ringworm. It is contagious not only to other cats, but to people as well. It is characterized by a rash and hair loss.
  • Tapeworms are common intestinal parasites in cats. They are frequently acquired through flea infestation, but can also be passed on through the hunting and killing of small animals such as rabbits or rodents. Flea control and restricting hunting activities are necessary to control the spread of tapeworms.
  • Toxoplasmosis is a disease of cats which is of considerable concern to pregnant women. Though the disease in cats is usually mild and self-limiting, the disease in pregnant women can affect the unborn child and result in abortion or birth defects. Pregnant women should avoid handling or cleaning the litterboxes of household cats.
  • Upper Respiratory Infection (URI) are common in cats, especially in young cats. Symptoms of URI include sneezing, coughing, runny eyes, runny nose, lack of appetite, and wheezing. Vaccination against calicivirus and feline rhinotracheitis (feline herpesvirus) should be part of your preventive cat health care program, as these diseases are frequent causes of upper respiratory infections in cats.
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