Common Feline Diseases

Even the most pampered cats are at risk from diseases. A number of illnesses are common for felines, some of which can result in serious problems. To safeguard your cat's health, seek out preventive care. Veterinarians have the knowledge and skills necessary to provide care that can help maintain a cat's good health. Veterinarians can also treat disease if it strikes to help pets recover. Monitor your cat's activity and appearance regularly to ensure that you notice any changes that might signal a problem.

Upper Respiratory Infections

An upper respiratory infection is essentially a cold. Cats can catch colds like humans often contract them. Some upper respiratory infections are more serious in nature. These infections are highly contagious with unpleasant symptoms such as fever, tearing and inflamed eyes, sneezing, runny nose, difficulty swallowing and breathing, and lethargy. Cats can be at risk for secondary infections such as pneumonia while sick with upper respiratory infections. These illnesses can last for as long as six weeks. If your cat is unable to eat or drink due to symptoms, consult your veterinarian for treatment and guidance. Veterinarians do not have plentiful treatment options for helping cats with these illnesses.


Parasites present a significant risk for cats. Anytime you notice intestinal upset in your cat, consult a veterinarian. Tapeworms and roundworms are the most common intestinal parasites for felines. Kittens are the usual victims of roundworms, but adult cats can contract them also. These thin worms will be visible in vomit or feces. Cats can contract roundworms if they come into contact with infected feces or vomit. Kittens can contract them before birth or through a mother's milk. Cats can catch tapeworms by eating infected meat. Cats that hunt outdoors can be at risk for tapeworms. Symptoms of worms will vary depending on the worm type. General signs include abdominal discomfort, bloating of the abdomen, bloody stool, weight loss, diarrhea, and vomiting. A veterinarian will diagnose roundworms and tapeworms by examining feces under a microscope. Both types of worms are easily treated with deworming medication.

Cats could contract heartworm disease through mosquitoes, although dogs are more susceptible to the disease. Special screening is available for cats to detect infection. Symptoms of heartworm disease include weight loss, coughing, vomiting, difficulty breathing, and lethargy. If tests indicate heartworm, a veterinarian can prescribe medication to help kill the worms and prevent future infection.

Feline Gingivitis

Dental diseases are common in cats. With aging, cats tend to develop problems with their teeth. Up to 85 percent of all cats more than three years old have some type of dental issues. Gingivitis is an inflammation of the gum tissue surrounding teeth. As plaque forms quickly on teeth, it will lead to inflammation and pockets in the gums where food and bacteria will accumulate. Without treatment, feline gingivitis can become severe, leading to painful problems. Cats will develop bad breath, drooling, bleeding, and difficulty eating. Seek assistance from a veterinarian if you notice these symptoms. Typical treatment involves surgical cleaning and possible tooth extraction under general anesthesia.

Chronic Renal Failure

Chronic renal disease is a fatal disorder that involves progressive kidney failure. Generally, the failure happens gradually over a period of months or years. When the failure reaches a significant point, though, the cat will decline quickly. Symptoms of kidney disease are subtle, so owners must monitor cats carefully to notice them. Symptoms include excessive drinking and urination, incontinence, diarrhea, vomiting, decline in appetite, weight loss, anemia, weakness, and lethargy. Itchy skin and bruising are less common symptoms. If you notice these symptoms, get your cat veterinary care immediately. Treatment depends on the stage of renal failure. The purpose of treatments is to reduce the workload of the kidneys while making the cat as comfortable as possible. Diet adjustments can also be effective for controlling symptoms and improving quality of life.

Urinary Tract Infections

Cats are susceptible to urinary tract infections. If your cat has a UTI, you will probably suspect a problem due to frequent and painful urination, blood in the urine, and urination in inappropriate places. Cats may also develop painful blockages of the urethra. If you notice these symptoms, get veterinary care for your cat right away. The veterinarian will diagnose the illness with urinalysis. Dietary changes and medication can help resolve urinary tract infections. Cats with blockages may require inpatient hospitalization to resolve the issue.