Common Health Problems In Felines

If you’re a new or experienced cat parent, there a number of common illnesses you should be aware of. Veterinary intervention is the key to your cat’s longevity and quality of life, so keeping an eye on your cat and going for regular checkups can make all the difference in their life. Keep reading for more information on common conditions.

feline-health problems
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According to the ASPCA, cats are prone to two types of cancer: squamous cell carcinoma and lymphoma. Squamous cell carcinoma may present as light colored spots on the skin due to repeated sun exposure. Lymphoma, which makes up about 30 percent of all cat-cancer cases, may cause a mass in the intestines or stomach.


Like humans, cats are susceptible to diabetes, which is an imbalance in the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. The primary types of diabetes in cats are type I and type II.

While the exact cause of feline diabetes is unknown, pancreatic disease and abnormal protein deposits along with genetics and other environmental factors may play a part. Symptoms of feline diabetes include increased urination, lethargy, and dehydration.

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)

FIV may not present symptoms for many years after contraction. And like HIV in humans, FIV can make a cat more susceptible to secondary infections. FIV can cause anemia, conjunctivitis, and dental disease. Cats displaying these or any other symptoms of FIV should be taken to a veterinarian for a thorough examination.

Feline leukemia virus (FelV)

Kittens under one year of age are most predisposed to contracting feline leukemia virus. It’s common in outdoor cats. FelV can trigger changes in behavior, fever, jaundice, and reproductive issues in female cats. As an infectious disease, it’s highly contagious, but there is a vaccine that may reduce a ca’s chances of contracting FelV.


Heartworm parasites are more commonly associated with canines. However, while not a natural host, cats can suffer from heartworms, which tend to affect the lungs more so than the heart. A cat with heartworms may experience a persistent cough along with rapid breathing and a loss of appetite. The American Heartworm Society explain sthat some cats will have no symptoms of a heartworm infection and then suddenly collapse or die unexpectedly.

High-rise syndrome

While not a disease, per se, cats who live in a high-rise apartment buildings may inadvertently fall from an open window. The phenomenon is so common that it’s been given its own name, high-rise syndrome. Accidental falls can result in broken limbs, punctured lungs, and death.

Upper respiratory infections

A cat’s anatomy makes them highly susceptible to infections of the respiratory tract, including the sinuses, nose, and throat. Viruses are the most common culprit with feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus triggering up to 90 percent of upper respiratory infections in cats.

Symptoms may be mild and include clear nasal discharge, sneezing, and runny nose. More serious infections can trigger oral or nasal ulcers along with depression and difficulty breathing.

Kidney disease

Kidney disease is caused by a number of environmental factors including accidental ingestion of toxic substances along with age and genetics. Renal failure which is the end result of advanced kidney disease, is one of the most common causes of death in elderly felines. Initial symptoms include increased thirst and nausea along with lethargy and ammonia-scented breath.


Like all animals, cats can acquire intestinal parasites. The most common types of worms in cats include tapeworm, hookworm, and ringworm. Intestinal parasites can cause diarrhea, bloody stool, constipation, and vomiting.

Cats presenting symptoms of any illness should always be examined by a licensed veterinarian. And while medical care is expensive, often rivaling that of humans, there are many different types of pet insurance policies that can help offset the cost of both emergency medical care as well as routine preventative exams and vaccinations.

Cats can live 20 years or more with proper medical treatment and intervention. However, these and other diseases can significantly impact a cat’s lifespan and quality of life. Don’t wait until it’s too late, take your cat to the veterinarian the moment you suspect their health may be compromised.

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