Common Cat Illnesses & Symptoms

Many cat illnesses and symptoms can be cause for concern, or even fatal if they are not treated within a certain timeframe. Our South Charlotte vets offer advice about what to watch for.


What are common cat illnesses?

Cat parents need to be on alert and prepared to visit their veterinarian if required, especially since cats tend to isolate out of instinct when ill. Here are 3 common cat illnesses and their symptoms.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Viruses and bacteria can cause infections in your cat’s upper respiratory tract - their sinuses, nose, and throat. Often seen in multi-cat households and shelters, cats can contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus through something as simple as sharing a water or food bowl.

They can then transmit that virus to other cats the same way or by coughing, sneezing, or during grooming.

Symptoms include:

  • Decreased or lost appetite
  • Runny nose or clear/colored nasal discharge
  • Congestion
  • Cough
  • Sneezing
  • Gagging, drooling
  • Fever

Diabetes

When a cat doesn’t produce enough insulin to balance glucose levels or blood sugar, they develop diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, it can lead to several serious symptoms, including:

  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite (as the body cannot use the energy in food) or loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Motor function problems
  • Coma
  • Death

Poorly controlled diabetes can shorten a cat’s lifespan and lead to nerve disorders, numerous health problems, and severe emergency situations. Treatment is focused on management and can include insulin injections.

Cancer

Caused by uncontrolled growth of cells, cancer can affect a wide range of cells and organs in a cat’s body. The disease first starts to grow within a cell, before attaching to tissue underneath the skin and potentially spreading to other areas.

Feline Leukemia Virus (which cats can be vaccinated against) is a common contributor. Other causes include toxins in the environment. If detected early during a physical exam, cancer may be able to be treated.

Symptoms include:

  • Lumps or bumps that change in size or shape
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Odor from the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Marked increase or decrease in appetite
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

Depending on whether the tumor is detected and diagnosed early enough, the type of cancer and its extent, specific location, etc., whether an effective treatment plan is developed, and other factors, a number of treatments such as surgery, radiation, and chemotherapy may be used.

What to do if your cat is ill

If your cat is ill and exhibiting any of the symptoms above, it’s imperative to bring them to a vet as soon as possible. At Sharon Lakes Animal Hospital, we have an in-house laboratory, onsite pharmacy, and emergency clinic to provide your pet the care they need (help for after-hours emergencies is also available).

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