Although many people have cats, few know very much about cat illnesses. If you become informed about the common ailments that cats suffer, not only will you know what to look for and how to treat the illness, you will not suffer as much anxiety over the welfare of your pet.
If you know how to recognize the symptoms of common cat illnesses, you can ensure that your pet receives treatment as soon as possible. This will reduce the severity of most illnesses, as well as the stress on your pet.
There are many diseases and illnesses that can affect your cat at any time during its life. Some of these are thankfully very rare but others are far more common and the chances are you will come across them at some point. So here are some very common cat diseases and symptoms that will hopefully aid you in identifying what might be wrong with your cat and how to deal with them.
Although a common problem you’ll be happy to know that fleas are easily dealt with.
There are many types of flea (over 2000) but the one we as cat owners are interested in is Ctenocephalides Felis. So the flea is an external parasite that feeds on your cats blood. By the way humans can also be bitten by cat fleas, however they can’t survive on only human blood and so are unable to live on us.
You don’t need to get too stressed about finding fleas on your cat, yes it’s kind of horrible when you first see one, but they don’t do much harm and with good flea treatment it’s really easy to get rid of them.
Although I just said fleas are mostly harmless, which they are to adult cats, they can pose a danger to young kittens who if heavily infested can develop anemia. You should easily be able to see the signs and symptoms though.
Cat Fleas Symptoms
The first thing you will probably notice is your cat scratching way more than normal. Scratching and licking in the same areas may also lead to some fur loss. Keep an eye on your cats bedding, fleas will live in the areas that your cat spends most its time.
You can often see live fleas on bedding or rugs and flee droppings which look like small bits of grit, or pepper will also often be visible.
Cat fleas are flat shaped, dark brown in color and roughly 2 – 3 mm in length.
Cat Fleas Treatment
There are many different treatments available, the main problem is finding the cat flea treatment that works best for your particular cat. What works really well on some cats does not always work as well on others.
DO NOT ever use any flea treatment on your cat that is designed for use with a different animal.
As an example: Dog flea treatment could be lethal if used on a cat.
Cat Tape Worms
A tapeworm is a flat shaped whitish colored worm with a head and segmented body. They can grow up to 70-80 cm in length. They are acquired by your cat in two main ways.
Fleas that have ingested tape worm eggs are then eaten by your cat.
If your cat eats raw meat, raw fish or rodents that have also ingested tape worm eggs.
The head of the tape worm secures itself to the wall of the cats small intestine and starts to produce proglottids (segments of the tapeworm) these break off and pass through your cat, exiting through your cats feces. Each one of these proglottids is also hermaphroditic and contains eggs.
Generally speaking tapeworms are not particularly dangerous for your cat, and treatment is easy.
Tape Worms Symptoms
Unless you spot the eggs in your cats feces or around the anus area (white grains of rice that may move) then you probably won’t spot any other symptoms. Weight loss can occur if your cat is heavily infected. If you are unsure your vet can examine your cat, and providing your vet with a feces sample will help with the diagnosis.
Tape Worms Treatment
Your vet can provide a deworming treatment usually in tablet form. However please note that in order to prevent re infection you must treat both your cat and your house for fleas.
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
This isn’t one disease it’s actually the name given to a group of diseases having different causes that all affect your cats lower urinary tract.
Symptoms of FLUTD in Cats
- Your cat straining whilst trying to urinate (not to be confused with constipation).
- Blood in your cats’ urine.
- Using the litter tray/box more than is usual.
- If your cat urinates in places where it wouldn’t normally around the house.
- If you cat makes crying noises when trying to urinate (most likely hardly any urine is passed).
- Your cat may seem depressed and possible lack of appetite.
- Cleaning of the genital area more frequently than is normal.
The Most Common Causes of FLUTD
Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC) – FIC is when your cat develops FLUTD but the cause isn’t obvious. The cause is unknown and this is by far the most common cause of FLUTD accounting for about 66% of all FLUTD cases.
Obstruction of the Urethra – This is a total blockage of the Urethra and is considered an emergency.
Urolithiasas – These are stones that may cause a blockage of the Urethra. There are two types, Calcium Oxalate stones or Struvite stones.
Bacterial Infections – The Urethra has a bacterial infection, seen mostly in cats over 10 years old.
Stress or trauma – Can cause FLUTD but very rare.
Note: Any blockage of your cats urethra is considered an emergency and you should seek advice from your vet right away.
Treatment of FLUTD in Cats
You Vet will determine the course of action depending on the cause. Medication may be required and in the case of stones surgery may be required.
Some Things You Can Do To Help In Your Own Home
One of the main things is to increase water consumption. Some cats like running water, I had one that liked drinking from a dripping tap, try a pet water fountain they really do encourage pets to drink more. Just anything that will encourage your cat to drink more.
If your cat eat dry foods try and introduce wet food. Wet cat food contains 60-70% more water than dry food.
Upper Respiratory Infection in Cats (URI’s)
URI’s are usually Viral, sometimes bacterial infections that affect your cats sinuses, nose and throat.
The two most common viral URI’s are:
- Feline Calicivirus
These are responsible for up to 90% of all URI’s.
The two main forms of bacterial URI’s are:
These are much less common in cats than the Viral URI’s.
The infection is spread by sneezing, coughing, use of shared food or water bowls and is far more likely to occur in houses having more than one cat. Catteries and shelters are at much higher risk of these types of infection.
Your cats age and condition also plays a part and whether your cat is up to date with its vaccinations. I should point out that vaccinations will not prevent your cat from becoming infected but it may help to lessen the symptoms.
Certain breeds are also more susceptible. Flat faces breeds such as Persians are at increased risk of catching URI’s.
- Discharge from your cats nose
- Loss of appetite
Your vet will prescribe suitable medication that may include antibiotics, but the main thing is (in multi cat households) to isolate your infected cat and be thorough in cleaning and sanitizing things like water and food bowls, bedding and litter boxes and basically any other areas where your cat spends time.
Roundworms in Cats
These are the most common type of worm that infect cats. Almost all cats during their life will become infected, and they are very prevalent in kittens. The Roundworms infect your cats stomach and intestines, unlike tape worms they do not hook themselves onto the lining of the intestines.
Your cat can catch Roundworms by ingesting the eggs from contact with infected soil, or by eating small rodents, beetles or earth worms. A nursing mother can spread to her kittens by larvae being present in her milk.
Symptoms of Roundworms in Cats
There may be very little outward sign that your cat is infected. A heavy infestation may lead to weight loss, a dull coat, and your cats stomach may seem swollen.
Another way to tell is by inspecting your cats feces. Roundworms are light colored (whitish brown) and can be anything from 3 to 6 inches in length. They are round (hence the mane) kind of like spaghetti.
Treatment of Roundworms
Prevention is better than cure and you can minimize infection by keeping litter boxes and bedding clean.
A would be mother cat should (ideally) be dewormed before pregnancy and then again later on in her pregnancy. Kittens should be dewormed at about 2 to 3 weeks of age.
Overt Sick Cat Symptoms
Of course, sometimes your cat’s symptoms may be overt, even from the beginning of the illness. Some things, even a cat can’t hide. Seek veterinary advice immediately when your cat has any of these overt symptoms:
- Refusal to eat or drink.
- Excessive drooling.
- Straining at the litter box.
- Bloody urine.
- Bloody stools or continuing diarrhea.
- Discharge from eyes or nose.
- Expression of pain when you touch a certain area of her body.
Catching your cat’s symptoms early is the key to intervening early enough to help your cat be on her way to a full recovery.