Common Cat Diseases & Viruses

Routine veterinarian visits are necessary to prevent and treat feline illnesses.
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Understanding the signs and symptoms of diseases and viruses common in felines will help you take proactive steps to keep your cat healthy. All felines are at risk to various illnesses. However, with preventative care and prompt veterinarian treatment when symptoms arise, you'll help ensure your cat's longevity.

Feline Diseases

All cats are prone to diseases that can lead to severe symptoms and death. Though you may provide good nutrition and a loving home for your pet, these disease can potentially occur regardless of how well you care for your kitty. Kidney disease often occurs in cats and may result in kidney failure. Diabetes is also common in felines, requiring altered diets and daily insulin injections. Cats, especially males, are prone to inflamed bladders, or cystitis, which results in the need for special diets and medications. Hyperthyroidism in felines may indicate surgery or medications for life.

Though each of these diseases is different, symptoms may be similar; you'll want a prompt veterinarian evaluation to determine which your cat has. Change in appetite, lethargy, behavioral issues, vomiting, weight loss and thinning coat are all signs that your pet needs to be seen by her veterinarian to rule out a common feline disease. Though older cats are more susceptible to certain diseases, even young cats may be at risk for these common feline ailments.

Viruses in Cats

Viruses in cats can be deadly. Though some take years to result in death, others can kill felines with weeks or days. Symptoms such as diarrhea, vomiting, listlessness, coughing, wheezing, sneezing, fever and lack of appetite are often present with a variety of feline viruses. Rhinotracheitis is a virus similar to the human cold. It can range in severity and is often fatal in kittens. Though feline immunodeficiency virus or FIV may not show symptoms for years, it compromises a cat's immune system. It develops when cats are bitten by other infected felines. Panleukopenia, or Feline Distemper, is incurable and highly contagious and is often fatal within days of the first symptoms. Calici Virus is like the human flu and is treated with rest and medications. However, it is often fatal in very young or senior cats. Feline corona virus is carried for life once contracted. Feline infectious peritonitis or FIP is a mutation of the corona virus that often shows no symptoms for years until it results in death. Feline leukemia or FeLV may sound like cancer but is actually a virus that usually results in death in about two years once a cat is infected.

Seeking Veterinarian Care

As a loving pet owner, you probably take your cat to see her veterinarian at least once a year. These visits allow your veterinarian to monitor your cat's health and may include routine procedures such as blood work and urinalysis to make sure your pet doesn't have any early warning signs of disease that may not yet be evident in the form of symptoms. Abnormalities in blood cells, sugar levels or kidney values are some of the results that your veterinarian will check for to catch diseases and viruses in their early stages. However, it is also vital to visit your veterinarian if you notice any of the common symptoms of feline illnesses. In addition, providing routine veterinarian care, including vaccinations, will help to protect your pet from illnesses that could shorten her life span.

Keeping Your Cat Healthy

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Preventing feline diseases and viruses is the key to your cat's long, happy life. Though some illnesses can't be stopped from developing, the majority of them are avoidable with proper care. Keeping your kitty indoors is a good first step to ensuring her good health. Outdoor cats are exposed to viruses from being around other cats or walking through areas where sick animals have been. Proper nutrition from balanced, good-quality cat food will help to strengthen your cat's immunity. Routine vaccinations not only boost your pet's immunity but protect her if she is ever exposed to the viruses the vaccinations protect against. Finally, monitoring your kitty for changes in behavior, weight, appetite and appearance will help you identify problems before they become serious and when they will most easily respond to treatments.

Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.

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