It is important to know the main diseases of cats, as well as their symptoms and treatments. Felines are wonderful pets and if you have one or are planning to have one, you should be informed to prevent and treat your feline, as soon as possible. At Petlifey, we explain the most serious ailments that can affect a cat’s health.
Symptoms of cat diseases
The first thing you should know is that almost all the ailments that your pet can suffer show certain symptoms. It is essential to be able to detect them in order to apply a veterinary treatment as soon as possible.
Normally a cat has a good appetite, transparent eyes, good muscle tone, an alert expression, deposits firm stools and exhibits a shiny coat. If any of these characteristics change, it is likely that the cat is suffering from a disorder.
Don’t be alarmed if your cat refuses a meal or two, because this is quite normal, but if it keeps refusing food, it may be a sign of illness.
Diarrhea is another indication that something is wrong. At least this indicates the possibility of intestinal parasites. A coat in poor condition can suggest a nutritional deficiency or the presence of external parasites .
Learn what the normal state of your healthy cat is and continually examine it for possible variations. Early detection of a problem can facilitate necessary treatment and help stop a disease before it becomes serious .
Let’s see below the main diseases that your cat can suffer :
Viral diseases are the biggest killer of cats. Therefore, its early detection is essential so that the veterinarian can administer the appropriate treatment and avoid serious problems. The most important ones are:
One of them, called infectious feline panleukopenia, although it is better known as FIE, cat fever, feline distemper or feline enteritis, attacks the intestines of the cat. Its appearance is characterized by the following symptoms:
- General decline.
- Refusal of food.
- High temperature.
- Soft spot.
- The affected cat may hang its head over a trough with water but not drink.
Because this disease attacks so quickly, it is easy to mistake it for poisoning. If you ever notice these symptoms in your cat, contact your veterinarian for immediate diagnosis and treatment.
Panleukopenia is spread by contact with contaminated areas, infected animals or their feces, or through an intermediary such as a human, dog, fly, or flea that has been in contact with the disease.
Although this disease can be transmitted by humans or by dogs, it is not infectious for them.
Since germs can last for a long time, it is not considered safe to bring an unvaccinated cat into a house that has had cases of distemper until at least six months have passed. All blankets, feeders and drinkers, litter boxes and the like must be previously disposed of.
There has been a vaccine that protects cats against panleukopenia, this killer disease, for some time . It is usually given when the cat is about eight weeks old.
Every year the cat must be given reminder injections. Since kittens are especially vulnerable to FIE it is absolutely necessary to vaccinate them at the appropriate age.
Pneumonia and rhinotracheitis in cats
Two other highly contagious viral diseases are pneumonia and rhinotracheitis. Its symptoms are similar to those of a severe cold or fever in humans :
- Teary eyes.
- Runny nose
- Throat pain.
- General aches.
Pneumonia is spread through the air and through direct contact with objects that have been sneezed on.
Because a sick cat’s nose is affected, the animal cannot smell its food, and will often reject the food. This is not convenient; the weakening that this produces in the animal is dangerous and it may be necessary to force-feed it to maintain its endurance and strength.
Early detection and treatment are important because although pneumonia is fatal it does not act as quickly as panleukopenia and can be overcome with antibiotics. After treatment by a veterinarian, the sick cat should be isolated, well cared for, in a warm environment free from drafts.
However, there is a vaccine that does not offer permanent protection against these diseases and therefore must be injected periodically. Follow your vet’s advice.
Cats are also exposed to colds, which are transmitted from one cat to another. The symptoms, although less severe, are similar to those of the serious diseases already described, so that a diagnosis and treatment by a veterinarian is necessary.
Rabies or hydrophobia in cats
The rabies or hydrophobia is another viral disease that can affect cats. There is no known cure, but it is controllable. Bats, skunks, and foxes are known carriers.
Farm or field cats that are likely to come into contact with these animals are, therefore, the most exposed. An open wound or cut that comes into contact with the saliva of an animal infected with rabies is enough for the animal (any mammal) to contract the disease.
Cats can be vaccinated against rabies and certain municipal and government agencies often offer this protection at no cost. Documentary proof of protection against this disease is often required when transporting or traveling with a feline.
Feline viral leukemia
In recent years, another deadly enemy has emerged: feline viral leukemia. Researchers have worked to produce a vaccine against this threat and it is highly recommended that a veterinarian give it to your feline pet.
Many times, you will see a breeder advertise their animals as FeLV neg. This means that your cats have been tested for this disease and have been found free of it. As leukemia is almost always fatal, vaccination is strongly recommended.
Urinary problems in cats
Frequent and unsuccessful attempts to urinate, straining to urinate, or the presence of blood in the urine indicate that a cat’s urinary tract may be blocked .
If you notice that your cat is extremely restless or meows when handled, chances are that he is suffering from a bladder disorder.
If this disorder is not treated immediately by a veterinarian, the affected cat can die quickly from urea poisoning produced by the absorption of urine by the body’s tissues.
Even if it is discovered that the problem is not a bladder disorder, it is much better to visit the vet for an early diagnosis than to wait until it is too late.
A routine “litter box” test can indicate the absence or presence of urine and will help you catch any problems before they become serious.
Obesity in cats
A fat cat is putting more stress than normal on its joints and heart. You are more exposed to viral or bacterial infections and are at higher risk if you are anesthetized.
A domestic cat can only get fat due to the negligence of human beings, because it does not have the opportunity to loot garbage containers or to gain weight with waste that it can find in the street.
Therefore, do not spoil your animal with treats: you have to keep it healthy and in optimal condition.
The cure for obesity is to reduce the amount of food so that the cat consumes its own stored fat. Reducing calorie intake will not have negative effects on your cat as long as its diet is of good quality and is well balanced.
Skin diseases in cats
As soon as you notice any irregularity in your cat’s coat, you should have the animal examined by a veterinarian.
Early detection, diagnosis and treatment are important to stop, control and cure skin diseases , especially since many of them are highly contagious .
Ringworm in cats
The Ringworm is a fungal infection that can attack any part of the body. Initially it manifests as an oval or circular hairless area, and as the infection spreads, the hairless area becomes larger.
Recent advances in medicine have produced very effective remedies against this annoying disease. An especially unpleasant feature of this disorder is that it spreads easily between felines and humans.
To control this disease it is very important to vacuum and clean the house thoroughly. Blankets, both those of the cat and those of humans, have to be washed very frequently.
Fungi in cats
There are other diseases caused by fungi that can cause sores or skin lesions on your animal. A timely diagnosis and timely treatment will cure them.
A sick cat has to be isolated until it is completely healed. Your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate medications and doses, and if you faithfully follow his instructions, the fungal infection will be eradicated.
Scabies in cats
The scabies cats is a disease that appears on the skin of the cat. It is caused by a type of mite. The usual thing is that scabies mites are difficult to detect, since their size is microscopic.
To do this, you should routinely inspect the pet’s fur, especially around the base of the ears. In the same way, you should observe their behavior, in case they scratch more than normal in any specific area.
Allergies and intolerances in cats
The allergic reaction to certain foods, drugs (such as necklaces, powders or sprays against fleas) or certain fibers (some cats tolerate nylon or some other synthetic fibers) are a common cause of skin diseases, as they are tick, flea and bee bites or vitamin deficiencies or overdoses.
Unfortunately, determining the cause of a particular allergy can be difficult, and a veterinarian may need to run several tests before arriving at the correct answer and prescribing the appropriate treatment.
Intestinal parasites in cats
If you suspect or if you are certain that your cat has worms, pinworms or tapeworms, you will need to take a fecal sample to your veterinarian for an examination. After the fecal exam, he will likely ask you to bring the cat to him.
Worms and worms in cats
The remedies will be prescribed according to the type of parasite and according to the age and size of the cat. The deworming are strong medicines; they have to be to kill the parasites.
For this reason, you should never vermifuge your cat on your own. The wrong dose can make your cat seriously ill, and can even lead to death.
Intestinal parasites bilitate the cat, deteriorate its appearance and condition it and, if the infection is severe, make the cat more susceptible to disease. A fecal analysis by a veterinarian can determine the presence of these parasites.
The intestinal roundworm worms live in the intestines and feed on partially digested food. Some eggs come out with the droppings. Cats that use the same litter box can infect each other by licking their paws to clean themselves, thus ingesting the eggs that will later hatch in the digestive system.
It is common to detect a coiled ascarid in vomit or stool. They have both pointed ends and are yellowish in color.
Had in cats
Tapeworms are not as easily diagnosed as roundworms on a fecal analysis. A sure indication that a cat has tapeworms is the presence of white particles similar to grains of rice in the areas of the house that the cat usually frequents.
The tapeworm is a segmented animal. Its head remains attached to the intestinal wall, but as eggs are produced the parasite is shed from the segments of its body that contain the eggs, which are expelled through the host’s anus.
The rice grain-like particles are actually these egg sacks. If a healthy cat ingests one of these, it can in turn become infested. As always, this happens most easily when multiple cats share the same litter box.
If you have a cat with intestinal parasites, it is advisable to periodically vacuum the house. The head of the parasite implanted in the intestine of the cat is very tenacious and it can be somewhat difficult to get it to detach and kill it.
The strong medicines necessary to rid the cat of its parasites can cause certain disorders for some time, but your veterinarian will prescribe the appropriate and safe doses for each individual animal.
The ear mites are a fairly common disorder in cats diseases. It is caused by mites that develop in the dust, dirt and wax that accumulate in a cat’s ears.
The best prevention is to periodically clean the ears with cotton wool soaked in mineral oil.
When ear mites develop in a cat, they can spread quickly to all cats in the house, and a serious infection can affect both a cat’s balance and hearing.
Mite infestation is characterized by a material-like crust dark brown visible in the interior of the ear. Even when this matter is not evident, there may be mites present, since the deepest corners of the ear canal are not visible to the naked eye.
If your cat continually scratches its ears or shakes his head, he may have ear or ear mites. The most serious cases require treatment twice a day (with the application of certain medications), which may not be very pleasant for the owner, but it must be remembered that the infested cat feels much more uncomfortable. Since it is so easy to prevent this disorder, our cats should not be affected due to our laziness.
Care must be taken to use a cotton-lined stick so as not to insert it too deeply into the ear canal. When mites are suspected or when the cat is taken to the vet for a regular checkup, the doctor will examine the ears and clean them as part of the normal check. He will be able to show you the best way to clean your cat’s ears and will prescribe a treatment if it has mites.
Hairballs in cats
All cats ingest the hair that is shed from their coats when they lick each other. These hairs collect in the intestine where they form balls or bundles that are evacuated with feces or vomit.
The newspaper brushing your cat, especially on the two occasions in which annual change of coat renewing its cloak, will help alleviate this annoying problem.
A diet supplemented with fish oil or choline and inositol will allow your cat to evacuate hairballs more easily.
Fleas and ticks in cats
Regular inspection of your pets will help keep potential problems under control.
Both fleas and ticks can be seen with the naked eye. Dark spots on a cat’s sideburns or chin indicate the presence of fleas.
Fleas themselves are often found around the anus, eyes, and mouth.
Fleas on cats
Fleas are dark brown or black in color. They are especially annoying during the warmer months and cause an irritating sting, can spread fungi, and can serve as vectors for internal parasites.
Cat fleas are not the same as dog fleas, and a cat owner is not likely to find dog fleas unless he also has a dog.
Frequent vacuuming is necessary when living in an area where fleas are abundant. This is very important because young fleas thrive in the dust of dry areas such as under furniture, in cracks in the floor, under rugs or carpets or in other similar places.
Flea eggs can remain dormant for months until the proper conditions for incubation are in place. For this reason insecticidal flea powder should be put under carpets and furniture and left there.
Your pet’s blankets have to be washed frequently, and also treated with insecticide. Brushing your cat daily will also help prevent parasites from becoming infested.
Fleas can be controlled by daily application of special insecticidal powders and also by daily brushing of the cat’s coat. A bath with antiparasitic shampoo followed by a thorough brushing and combing session may be sufficient to eliminate parasites.
However, you shouldn’t bathe a cat too often, as this could dry out the natural oils that protect its skin.
Re-infestation is possible, especially through contact with other animals that are allowed to go out in the open and then re-enter the home, or by fleas brought into the home by yourself, on your clothing.
Ticks in cats
Ticks are dangerous because they can cause blood poisoning, fever, or paralysis. These parasites bury their heads in the cat’s flesh and suck their blood.
They are usually found near the head and neck, where the cat cannot reach them. To remove a tick , pick it up with your fingers or tweezers as close to the cat’s body as possible. Try to grab the head and mouth, and not just the body of the tick.
Try to remove the parasite by pulling it gently, without suddenness. It is very important to remove the full head, to avoid infection. Direct application of specific flea and tick insecticidal powders should cause their death and fall within a few hours.
When using commercial flea and tick insecticide powders make sure they are safe for cats. Do not use matches, lit cigarettes, kerosene, or gasoline to remove ticks; Even if you do kill the parasites, you can also burn the cat.
After removing a tick, clean the area with an antiseptic solution prescribed by your veterinarian. Observe the area for about a week to make sure it is healing properly and that no abscesses develop.
Ticks are a rural problem. However, they can be easily controlled, and prompt treatment will prevent infestation.