10 Common Cat Diseases Every Pet Parent Needs to Know About

Most cat parents would agree that raising a feline is fairly easy (usually).

Cats are renowned for their independence, perfectly happy to be left alone for long periods of time.

Nonetheless, it’s still your job to take care of them. Even if they do sometimes treat you as more of a personal assistant, you’re still their parent.

Among other things, this means understanding which diseases commonly affect cats, so you can quickly get them the help they need.

10 Common Diseases to Watch Out for in Your Cat

Hopefully, you never need to worry about any of the diseases on this list.

Just in case, though, take a few minutes to review these common versions.

1. Cancer

There is no one single cause of cancer in cats. It can occur because of environmental factors or genetics.

One of the most common forms is lymphoma (LSA),.accounting for about 30% of cancer cases in cats. It tends to affect younger felines most, but rarely presents noticeable symptoms, so it’s important that you have your little fella checked for it regularly. Ask your veterinarian about a possible vaccine, too, on your next trip.

2. Diabetes

Diabetes develops in cats because of insulin-related problems.

Fortunately, it can almost always be treated, but it helps if you catch it early.

Signs your cat may have diabetes include:

  • Dehydration
  • Increased thirst or water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Lethargy
  • Sweet-smelling breath
  • Unkempt hair
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Urinating outside the litter box
  • Weight loss

Diabetes can often be prevented, too. Cats are less likely to become diabetic if they receive regular exercise and eat a proper diet.

3. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) tends to develop slowly. Most cats with FIV don’t show symptoms for years. Still, keep an eye out for these signs:

  • Anemia
  • Change in urinary habits
  • Dental disease
  • Diarrhea
  • Discharge from nose or eyes
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Hair loss
  • Inflammation or abnormal appearance of the eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Poor appetite
  • Red skin
  • Sneezing
  • Unkempt coat
  • Weight loss
  • Wounds that won’t heal

Unfortunately, it will weaken your feline friend’s immune system, making them more susceptible to secondary infections.

Although the disease is chronic, if caught early enough, treatment can often extend a cat’s life by months or even years.

4. Feline Leukemia Virus (FelV)

FeLV is a transmittable virus that can also inhibit your little buddy’s immune system. It’s among the most commonly diagnosed reasons for disease and death in cats, often leading to kidney disease, anemia, and lymphosarcoma.

Despite its effects, FeLV generally doesn’t produce any noticeable symptoms right away, which is why it is vital that you have your cat tested for it.

Only about 15% of cats who have been diagnosed with FeLV live for more than three years, but the earlier you catch it, the more treatment can ensure a cat is able to live comfortably.

5. Heartworm

Heartworm is spread by infected mosquitos, but, despite its name, the disease tends to cause lung disease in felines. While it’s something that every pet-parent should look out for, vigilance is especially important for those who live mosquito-infested areas. Talk to your veterinarian about methods of prevention that they’d recommend.

Signs your cat may have heartworm include:

  • Depression
  • Lethargy
  • Loss of appetite or weight
  • Persistent coughing
  • Sporadic vomiting
  • Trouble breathing

Heartworm can cause sudden death in cats, so you cannot be too careful if you notice any of the above.

6. High-Rise Syndrome

While not strictly a disease, high-rise syndrome still poses a threat to your cat’s wellbeing and happens often enough that it’s definitely worth mentioning here. It’s also 100% preventable.

High-rise syndrome is how vets refer tothe influx in cats they see when weather gets nice and pet-parents begin opening their windows. If those windows don’t have screens, it’s all-too-easy for your little buddy to fall out.

And, no, cats don’t always land on their feet.

Instead, they can end up with broken limps, shattered jaws, and punctured lungs. Death is tragically common, as well.

7. Rabies

Rabies is a viral disease that attacks the brain and spinal cord of cats and other mammals. It is almost always fatal, and cats are the most commonly-diagnosed domestic animal in the U.S.

The main form of transmission is by the bite of another infected animal, usually a wild one.

In many states, you are legally required to vaccinate your cat for rabies. Otherwise, speak to your veterinarian about vaccination, as your cat could be one of the few susceptible to side effects.

8. Ringworm

Ringworm is a fungal infection that can affect your cat’s skin, hair, and nails. One of the most common symptoms is hair loss in circular areas with red rings at the center.

You definitely want to keep an eye out for ringworm and get it treated right away because humans can catch it, too.

Older cats and kittens under a year are most likely to catch ringworm. Cats with long hair commonly catch it, as well.

9. Upper Respiratory Infections

Your cat’s nose, throat, and sinus area could become infected by all kinds of viruses or bacteria. Typically, you can tell when your pal has an upper respiratory problem because their breathing is affected, or they begin sneezing a lot.

Symptoms are not always obvious, though. Regular visits to the vet will help prevent these infections or at least make sure they’re treated right away.

10. Worms

Your cat’s nose, throat, and sinus area could become infected by all kinds of viruses or bacteria. Typically, you can tell when your pal has an upper respiratory problem because their breathing is affected, or they begin sneezing a lot. If intestinal worms are able to infest your poor puss’ stomach, they may get diarrhea or even have blood in their stool. They could become constipated, too. Anemia, trouble breathing, and coughing are all common symptoms, as well.

Although there are over-the-counter medications for worms, it’s best to have a vet prescribe treatment as some of those solutions can actually do more harm than good.

Early Detection Could Save Your Cat’s Life

Cats are notorious for their unique personalities. Many are fiercely independent. Most display any number of eccentric quirks, making them all the more lovable.

However, it’s important that you keep an eye on your cat, with the symptoms described above in mind, and regularly take them to see a veterinarian. Early detection could make all the difference to your furry friend’s life.