Just because cats are low maintenance pets does not mean that they are entirely self sufficient, and at times their independence can become a challenge, especially in the case of diagnosing ailments. Since you cat is unlikely to let you know how they are feeling, it is imperative to make sure they are seen by a vet at least once a year to make sure everything is in fine working order. Outside of that, here are a few common cat illnesses that can be detected by you, and if treated early, can be managed or cured.
Diseases that Can Affect Cats
Feline cystitis or FLUTD – Feline lower urinary tract disease can develop in cats whose diets are too high in minerals or too low in fluids, or cats who live in a stressful environment. It is also slightly more common in long-haired cat breeds. Male cats are more prone than females, and they can develop a urinary tract obstruction at the same time—which can be fatal if not treated promptly. Learn about how to recognize and treat cystitis in cats.
Periodontal disease – Did you know that gum disease is one of the most easily-prevented health concerns for cats and dogs? Brushing your cat’s teeth even once a week can help prevent a painful tooth abscess, decay, and tooth loss. Signs of periodontal disease include trouble eating or extreme halitosis (bad breath).
Hyperthyroidism – The thyroid is the endocrine organ in charge of producing hormones that the rest of the body needs to function properly. Cats with hyperthyroidism produce too much of certain hormones, preventing vital organs from functioning properly. Luckily, most cases of hyperthyroidism can be kept at bay with medications, but there is no outright cure, so the treatment will need to be administered every day for the rest of the cats life.
Renal or kidney disease – Kidneys function as essential filters in the body, so when they're diseased, it can result in urine back up, inflammation, or even the kidneys shutting down. Persian and Exotic cat breeds are more prone to cysts in the kidneys. If kidney failure becomes an issue, you may have to switch your pet to a prescription diet, give them antibiotics, and monitor their water intake.
Diabetes – Diabetes can be common in older and overweight cats and shows itself in excessive urination, extreme thirst, and lethargy. The disease prevents the cat’s body from creating and managing insulin. Insulin helps in the conversion and use of glucose (a major nutritional source of energy). Low glucose conversion means low energy and unused glucose in the blood. This can contribute to urinary tract infections.
Lymphoma – Lymphoma is a cancer that can attack several different areas of your pet’s body, and is more common in cats with FeLV or FIV. There is no cure, but some cats will go into remission. Treatment methods will help to reduce your cat’s pain and can sometimes help cats live for a couple of years with the disease.
FeLV – FeLV, or feline leukemia, is a viral infection and not a form of cancer, despite its name. However, because of its effects on the immune system, it can lead to secondary infections and even bone cancer.
FIV – Also known as Feline AIDS, the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus attacks the cat's immune system, making them more susceptible to other infections.
Worms and parasites – Some parasitic worms, like heartworm, whipworm, and roundworm, can infect cats and cause internal damage. Because some of these nasty parasites can reach up to a foot in length—inside your pet!—they are incredibly dangerous. Luckily, they are easily prevented with monthly treatments. Learn more here.
More on Cat Health
All About Cat Sleep
How To Play With a Cat
Maintaining a Healthy Cat Weight
This information is for informational purposes only and is not meant as a substitute for the professional advice of, or diagnosis or treatment by, your veterinarian with respect to your pet. It has, however, been verified by a licensed veterinarian for accuracy.