Cat Health Problems
Tips for dealing with major cat health issues
While many common cat health problems like hairballs, worms, fleas and urinary tract infections are relatively minor and highly treatable, you should always be aware of the more serious conditions that could potentially affect your pet. Overweight cats, cats with lower activity levels and aging felines are all at an elevated risk for some of the more serious cat health problems, including feline diabetes and feline kidney disease.
Early detection and treatment are the keys to extending your cat's life and improving its prognosis if it contracts a more serious condition. You should make sure to keep current with all vaccinations and vet checkups and be aware of the causes, signs and symptoms of major cat health problems.
Infectious Diseases that Affect Cats
Though vaccinations and boosters can protect your pet from a wide range of common cat health problems, there are still many infectious conditions that can affect your furry friend. Feline infectious peritonitis is caused by a mutated form of the corona virus, and pets living in multi-cat environments are thought to be at greater risk. While some cats with the virus remain asymptomatic for extended periods of time, others develop symptoms ranging from sneezing and watery eyes to diarrhea and rapid weight loss. Though most affected felines go on to make a full recovery, the condition can be lethal. If your cat develops symptoms, monitor its health closely in the days and weeks that follow.
Feline AIDS, also known as the feline immunodeficiency virus, is transmitted from cat to cat through saliva. If your cat gets in cat fights, even friendly fights and tussling matches with other pets, it is at greatly elevated risk. Symptoms do not usually appear until the infected cat contracts another illness, usually an upper respiratory tract infection. As there is no cure and no vaccine, all cats should be tested to see if they carry the feline AIDS virus.
Feline leukemia is also caused by a viral infection, though you can vaccinate your cat against this. As the vaccine is only effective when delivered prior to virus exposure, it's essential to be proactive about preventing this potentially deadly condition. Cats with feline leukemia have greatly diminished life expectancies.
Cats can also be affected by a long list of other parasitic, bacterial and viral infections, including Lyme disease, ticks, abscesses, cat flu and more. To determine your cat's risk for these conditions, talk to your veterinarian.
Chronic Feline Health Conditions
Conjunctivitis can affect cats of any age. This condition is an inflammation of the eye membranes that results in redness, swelling, watering and crusting-over of the affected eye(s). While it often flares up and cools off on its own, you should alert your vet the first time you notice conjunctivitis symptoms.
Though it's usually confined to lists of elderly cat health problems, feline kidney disease is a very real threat to any cat that's been fed exclusively on dry food for the duration of its adult life. Increased thirst is the most common initial symptom that your cat may have kidney problems, so take this symptom very seriously as soon as you spot it.
Cats are also prone to stress, gingivitis, ear mites, the flu and many other conditions. If you notice any changes in your cat's behavior, appearance or energy levels, you should suspect a possible illness and seek medical attention for your pet as soon as possible.