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Common Cat Diseases, Their Symptoms And Treatment

Who doesn't love a cat? These tiny little furballs with their adorable face and cute appearance is all one needs to brighten their day. Since time immemorial, cats have been known to be the greatest emotional support animals to their loved ones, helping individuals with depression, anxiety and other physical and mental disabilities.

As amazing cats are, it must also be kept in mind that they are not invulnerable to health risks and diseases themselves, and must be treated for common cat illnesses. Ensuring the best healthcare for your cat does not just make sure your little furry pal lives a long, comfortable life, but it also fosters communication between yourselves, as you're less likely to fall sick from touching or petting your cat.

Cats are generally susceptible to several types of cat diseases. These diseases can arise from different causes, and not all of them are contagious. But even minor illness in cats like diarrhoea or flea infestations can be uncomfortable for your fuzzy friend. In addition, some diseases like leukaemia and heartworm can prove to be deadly cat sickness, or adversely affect the lifestyle of your cat. Hence, it is extremely vital as a cat parent to keep an eye out for symptoms and signs of illness in cats. Identifying and detecting some of the most common health concerns can help you get your little munchkin the right diagnosis for cat disease and its treatment at the right time, and avoid any deadly cat disease. You can learn more about the major cat illnesses and learn how to treat and avoid them from this article.

Different types of Cat Diseases

  • Diabetes:

    Diabetes is among the most common illnesses in cats, especially those suffering from obesity. Diabetes in cats is commonly seen as the inability to naturally produce sufficient levels of insulin in the body to balance the blood sugar levels. Diabetes in cats can be observed through diseases in cats and cat disease symptoms like frequent thirst and urination, rapid weight loss, and vomiting. A veterinarian can recommend blood and urine tests to determine whether your cat has diabetes, and plan a special diet containing low carbohydrates and high protein. Oral medications and insulin therapies are also effective in treating diabetes but must be done only if suggested by your veterinarian.

  • Kidney Diseases:

    Felines, especially long hair breeds over the age of 7 are especially susceptible to renal and kidney diseases. It can be caused by several reasons, but mostly due to ingestion of toxic chemicals or substances, like antifreeze, pesticides, or even ibuprofen - a drug usually recommended for human use. Cats afflicted with kidney diseases often display symptoms like rapid hair and weight loss, dry hair, drooling, bad breath, frequent thirst as well as bowel movements. Kidney diseases are diseases that are common in cats and are one of the most fatal conditions, the risks of which rise as the fur baby ages. If your cat is displaying symptoms of kidney disease, it is wise to consult the veterinarian immediately for a professional diagnosis of cat disease and its treatment.

  • FIV and HIV disease specific to cats:

    FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is a common disease in cats that affects cats worldwide. Unlike other cat’s diseases, FIV attacks the immune system in cats directly, making them more sensitive to common infections and diseases. This deadly cat disease often targets and kills the white blood cells present in your feline friend, increasing their vulnerability to secondary infections as well. FIV is contagious in nature and is passed on through deep bite wounds, or from the mother to her kittens. As FIV is slower in nature, it can remain undetected for years before your cat starts showing visual symptoms. If your cat starts showing FIV-specific cat’s diseases and symptoms, like lack of appetite, weight loss, poor coat quality, chronic diarrhoea, seizures and signs of neurological disorders, it is important to get it diagnosed for FIV.

  • Leukaemia:

    Leukaemia is a fatal as a cat’s disease, claiming the lives of about 85% of cats persistently diagnosed with it. Leukaemia often suppresses the immune system in cats and is a leading cause of anaemia and lymphoma. Leukaemia in cats is often spread through viruses present in saliva and urine and can be transferred from one cat to another through close contact, sharing a food bowl, and fighting. Kittens are also vulnerable to leukaemia from having shared the mother's placenta. Leukaemia brings about symptoms like diarrhoea, skin and bladder disorders and infertility. Thankfully, the severity of leukaemia in cats has come down over the years due to improvements in vaccines and diagnostics.

  • Rabies:

    Rabies is a common disease in cats and neurological disorders to be found in carnivorous animals, including cats. Rabies in fur kids spread through bites and scratches and can prove fatal if it spreads throughout the nervous system including the brain. What makes rabies extremely threatening is the fact that it can be transferred to humans through saliva from getting bitten by rabid cats. Rabies in felines can show extreme signs of central nervous system disturbance and changes in behavioural patterns. The common cat sickness and symptoms associated with rabies include weight loss, muscle spasms and seizures, unexpected paralysis, hyperactivity and aggression. This cat’s deadly disease requires immediate attention from specialists.

  • Heartworm:

    Heartworm is a concerning health issue in cats, spread primarily by mosquitoes. This cat’s deadly disease is hard to detect and is rarely diagnosed before it is too late. Heartworm is a condition caused by foot-long worms that live in the heart, lungs, and topical blood vessels, and can worsen over time, leading to lung disease in cats, acute heart failure and damage to other associated organs. Cats suffering from heartworm often display signs like vomiting, coughing, seizures, fainting, and respiratory difficulties. There has been no medication to treat cats with heartworms, so the only prevention involves precautions that can lower the risks of your furry friend developing the effects of heartworm disease.

  • Hyperthyroidism:

    Hyperthyroidism is a common cat disease, caused by excessive production of thyroid hormones from the thyroid gland in cats. As an endocrine disease, hyperthyroidism can be frequently detected in cats over the age of 8. A cat's metabolic rate can rise to alarming levels as an effect of hyperthyroidism, causing significant stress to the heart, liver, kidneys, and other vital organs. Unless treated appropriately, hyperthyroidism in cats can lead to high blood pressure, hypertension, and heart diseases which can prove fatal for your furbaby. So, if you come across potential symptoms of hyperthyroidism, such as weight loss, diarrhoea, frequent vomiting, increased thirst and urination, poor coat condition, or changes in appetite, it is important to book an appointment with your veterinarian to avoid this cat sickness.

How to take care of a diseased cat?

  • Care

    - Like any ailing person, your little furball also deserves all the extra love and attention to get well sooner. However, cats do not usually like loud noise or crowded spaces, so if your cat is sick, providing it with a quiet resting place away from the noise goes a long way in ensuring the best care for your cat. In addition to a warm sleeping place, make sure they have easy and convenient access to food and water, and the litter box is just within their reach. While your cat is still recovering from a disease, it is important to let it rest, so avoid provoking or unnecessarily riling them up.

  • Diet plans

    It is common for sick cats to avoid eating. However, they still do need the essential nutrients for sustenance, as well as to recover from their ailment. So, it is important to make sure your cat has the necessary amount of food and water to stay fed and hydrated. Providing clean drinking water and fresh food in smaller quantities can encourage your cat to resume eating and drinking. However, it must be kept in mind that a sick cat will not be able to rely on its regular diet as it may lead to indigestion and food allergies. So, you can prepare a special diet plan for your munchkin having consulted with your veterinarian, making sure it consists of all important vitamins and nutrients it needs for a speedy recovery.

  • Frequency to visit the veterinarian

    Cats should be taken to the veterinarian at least twice a year, once every six months. However, if your cat is sick and ailing, make sure to consult the vet as frequently as possible. Depending on the severity of your cat’s health, your cat might require visits twice a month, or at least on a weekly basis.

  • Precautions for cat disease and its treatment

    Sick cats require certain precautions for their well-being and yours, too. It is extremely important to wash your hands thoroughly before and after touching your cat to avoid the transmission of germs of any kind. Cleaning your cat’s litter box on a regular basis is also vital in avoiding contamination. Furthermore, in a diseased state, your cat might not be in the best of its moods, so it is better to avoid any unnecessary excitement for your cat, which might end in scratches or bites. In addition, it is also important to keep your cat cool and be in continuous touch with your veterinarian,

Diseases of cats FAQ

What are the common cat diseases?

Cats are easily susceptible to several diseases. Hence, it is important to be able to identify some of the most common diseases in cats. Some of the common cat diseases that can bring down your feline friend include leukaemia, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), diabetes, heartworm, and more.

What are the symptoms of a sick cat?

If your cat is suffering from an ailment, here are some of the common symptoms that can help identify the diseases in cat. These symptoms often characterize themselves without any slight changes in the mood, rapid breathing and shortness of breath, I have just the noticeable weight and hair loss, vomiting and diarrhoea.

Can humans catch diseases from cats?

Though human beings are not susceptible to cat-specific diseases, they can still get sick from having been in contact with sick cats. In addition, sick cats often carry harmful germs which can lead to potential health risks unless safety precautions are followed.

What is the deadliest disease for cats?

Though most cats have an innate resistance to diseases, some cats succumb to the deadliest diseases. Some of the most common cat sickness include feline leukaemia (which results in several health risks, ultimately attacking the immune system and bone marrow failure), feline Immunodeficiency virus (FIV, which attacks the immune system, making the cat susceptible to the most common infections and diseases)

What are contagious diseases for cats?

Feline panleukopenia is one of the most contagious viral diseases in cats, which is spread through bodily fluids, fleas, faeces, as well as through contaminated blood, water bowls, litter boxes and clothing. It can also be passed on to kittens from an unvaccinated mother.

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