Common Diseases In Cats

We compiled a partial list of the many common diseases in cats. But remember, always consult your veterinarian for an accurate diagnosis and treatment options. We tried to cover most problems that cat owners meets during their feline life.

Quick Navigation

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Prevention Of FIV
Vaccinations And Testing
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
Testing And Prevention
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)
Acute Renal Failure
Chronic Kidney Problems
Diagnosis And Treatment
Special Diet
Feline Heartworm Disease
Feline Hyperthyroid Disease
Diagnosis And Treatment
Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)
Common Causes Of FLUTD
Feline Rabies
Rabies Symptomps
Zoonotic Diseases Associated With Cats
Cat Zoonotic Diseases
Diabetes Mellitus
Health Concerns
​Skin Problems
Symptoms Of Skin Problems

Common Causes

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV is in the same family of viruses as HIV and immunodeficiency viruses of other species. All of these viruses are species specific, which means that FIV cannot be transmitted to humans, and vice versa.


Many cats will show no symptoms for many years and the disease is often diagnosed when the cat shows signs of secondary infections and chronic degenerative conditions.

  • inflammation in the mouth and chronic gingivitis
  • diarrhea
  • pneumonia
  • skin disease
  • sinus infections
  • neurological problems

Fiv Cat At Vets

Many cats with FIV live a long life, especially if the illness is detected early and exposure to other infectious disease is limited.

Prevention Of FIV

FIV virus is contained in the blood, saliva and spinal fluid of infected cats. The most common means of transmission is through bite wounds. Transmission through mere contact is rare though FIV may be transmitted by a mother cat to unborn kittens.

There is no treatment for FIV. Once infected, a cat will carry the virus for life.

  • Outdoor cats are more likely to contract FIV than indoor cats. Cats who are spayed or neutering are less likely to roam and fight.
  • Cats infected with FIV should be kept indoors to decrease their exposure to other infections and to prevent them from infecting other cats.

Vaccinations And Testing

Vaccination can cause a false positive if a cat is tested for FIV. Any cat that is vaccinated should be permanently identified with a tattoo, collar, or microchip.

Cat Vaccination

A cat infected with FIV may take up to 60 days to test positive so a negative test must be repeated at least 60 days later.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is caused by a feline coronavirus (FCoV) and it is fatal.

The form of the virus carried by most cats – feline enteric coronavirus (FECV) – rarely causes the disease. But the virus can mutate into a virus referred to as FIP virus (FIPV) which does have the ability to cause the disease.

This virus is carried by 30-40% of house cats and that prevalence can be as high as 80-100% in multi-cat households, shelters and breeding colonies.

Fortunately, mutation to FIPV occurs only rarely.


  • In the wet form (effusive), fluid accumulates in the abdomen and chest, causing distension of the abdomen or difficulty breathing. The fluid is often a yellow color.
  • In the dry (non-effusive) form, there are inflammatory lesions called pyogranulomas throughout the body, including the nervous system, kidneys, liver, and eyes. In these cases, the symptoms depend on which organ is most affected.

Fip Symtomps in CAt

Most cats with FIP are between 6 months to 2 years of age.

There are no unique signs but cats with either form will have non-specific signs:

  • loss of appetite
  • weight loss
  • lethargy
  • a fluctuating fever that doesn’t respond to antibiotics


The benign version of the virus lives in the cells of the intestinal tract and is shed in feces. Cats become infected by ingesting it during grooming or eating.

The mutant version that causes the disease is rarely contagious among cats. More commonly, a mutation from FECV to FIPV occurs within an individual cat.

The precise cause of this mutation is not known. Once the virus has mutated it lives inside white blood cells rather than the intestines and is no longer shed in feces.

Testing And Prevention

Prevention of FIP is difficult. There may be a genetic predisposition so multiple cats within a family line may be affected. Selective breeding for overall disease resistance and health, may be beneficial.

There is no test to screen healthy cats to test for a risk of developing FIP.

To diagnose FIP in a sick cat, the vet needs to look at clinical signs and lab work as well as rule out other diseases. Biopsy is the surest method.


There is a vaccine available for FIP, but there is little evidence that it is effective.

Palliative care is currently the main treatment goal – maintaining quality of life and the cat’s comfort until this is no longer possible.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) belongs to the retrovirus family. Feline immunodeficiency virus is in the same family.

FeLV is one of the most common infectious diseases of cats. It is most common in environments with a lot of cats – multi-cat households, and feral populations.


Infection with FeLV causes a wide variety of symptoms, depending on what types of cells are infected.

Licking Can Be Source of Transmission

After exposure, some cats will have mild symptoms such as lethargy or fever. Many will never show symptoms or will show no symptoms for months or years.

If the immune system of the cat is not strong enough to control the virus, the cat will eventually contract FeLV-associated diseases:

  • Degenerative diseases such as intestinal disease, liver disease, anemia, and reproductive problems
  • Cancerous diseases such as leukemia or lymphoma
  • Diseases associated with immunosuppression
  • Chronic gingivitis, inflammation of the gums and mouth, chronic respiratory infections, abscesses, poor healing of wounds, and other infections are common


FeLV is shed in the feces, urine, milk, and saliva of an infected cat. The primary means of transmission is saliva through licking, grooming, biting, sharing litter pans and dishes.

Mother cats can transmit it to kittens during pregnancy or nursing. FeLV can also be transmitted through blood transfusions.

Cats younger than six months old are most susceptible to infection with FeLV because their immune systems are not mature.

At picture below you can see outcome of FelV, your cat can live good life with FeLV, never forget that.

Felv Outcomes


FeLV infection is diagnosed by a blood test. All cats who have been exposed to at-risk populations should be tested. A negative test should be repeated at least 30 days later.

Vaccination is recommended for all cats with access to outdoors, cats living with infected cats, cats living in multi-cat environments, and all kittens.

Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD)

Chronic kidney disease afflicts over 2 million of the world’s cats and 49% of those cats are over the age of 15. In certain breeds polycystic kidney disease (PKD) is known to be inherited.

There are two types of kidney failure in cats.

Chronic Kidney Disease in Cats

Acute Renal Failure

Develops suddenly over days or weeks. It can happen to cats of any age. There are many possible causes. We list some below.

  • Poisons are the most common cause – antifreeze, pesticides, cleaning fluids, toxic plants such as lilies, cleaning fluids, human medications. An ibuprofen pill can cause a cat’s kidneys to shut down.
  • Trauma, such as a broken pelvis or burst bladder.
  • Shock from rapid dehydration or losing a lot of blood quickly. A significant rise in activity, overheating in hot weather, diarrhea, and vomiting, can all cause dehydration.
  • Kidney infection.
  • Blockages that change the flow of urine out of the kidney and blood into the kidney.
  • Low blood pressure that comes with heart failure.

Chronic Kidney Problems

These are harder to treat. They are often found in middle-aged or older cats and can take months or years to develop. If your cat is older than seven years, pay special attention to his health.

The causes are not always clear but most common are kidney infections and blockages, that can wear down kidney function at a low level over a long period. Other possible causes include advanced dental disease, high blood pressure, cancer, thyroid problems.


Frequent urination – this is a sign your cat’s kidneys are no longer able to hold water. Urinating outside her the litter box is possible sign – cat psychology is complex and this could be your cat issuing a complaint about something, but medical issues must be ruled out.

Drinking a lot of water – the cat is trying to replace the fluid he’s lost through all that urination.

Cat Drinking Tap Water

There are much other common diseaseas signs such as constipation, dry coat, brownish tongue, ulcers in the mouth on the gums or tongue, halitosis with an ammonia-like odor• decreased appetite and weight loss.

Early signs may be subtle. Many cats with chronic renal disease are able to live a quality life, often for years. Early diagnosis, drug and nutritional therapy, and a supportive caring owner provide the best chances.

Diagnosis And Treatment

Early signs may be subtle. Many cats with chronic renal disease are able to live a quality life, often for years. Early diagnosis, drug and nutritional therapy, and a supportive caring owner provide the best chances.

  • Vet Diagnose: Blood and urine tests, X-rays, ultrasound and biopsy
  • Treatment: Surgery, Medicine, Special Diets, Injected Fluids

Special Diet

The goal of therapy is to slow the progression of the disease. Cat owners can play a huge role in assisting their cats with failing kidneys. We emphasize importance of special diet that can ease pain of your feline.

Healthy Omega 3 Cat Bites

A carefully managed diet enriched with vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids, low in phosphorus and protein, lots of fresh water, a calm environment, regular checkups can keep your cat comfortable for a long time.

​Feline Heartworm Disease

Feline heartworm disease has been diagnosed in all 50 US states and in some provinces in Canada. You should discuss prevention with your veterinarian.

Heartworm is transmitted by mosquitos. The larvae enter the cat through the bite and develop in the cat’s tissues. They enter the bloodstream, which carries them to the aortas in the lungs. There they cause an inflammatory reaction.

Most worms die at this point which causes even more inflammation. The worms that reach the adult stage can live in the host undetected for a couple of years. When the adult worms die the inflammation can cause death.


  • coughing
  • difficulty breathing
  • lethargy
  • rapid heart rate
  • decreased appetite
  • weight loss
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • blindness
  • collapse
  • convulsions
  • sudden death

​Feline Hyperthyroid Disease

A very common disorder in older cats. It results from excessive circulation two thyroid hormones.

The increase in these hormones in 95-98% of cats is due to a benign tumor of the thyroid gland. In the rest it is due to thyroid carcinoma.

Early diagnosis allows for management of the disease.

It is often accompanied by many other problems caused by the increase in thyroid hormones.


  • increased appetite
  • weight loss
  • high blood pressure
  • cardiac abnormalities
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea
  • unkempt coat
  • increased water consumption
  • possible kidney disease

Diagnosis And Treatment

Your veterinarian will run blood tests and thyroid scans if hyperthyroidism is suspected. They may run other test to evaluate affected organs.

Treatment involves managing the thyroid levels and/or eliminating abnormal thyroid tissue through surgery or radiation.

Most cats have a very good chance of regaining their health.

​Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD)

This refers to several conditions that affect a cat’s urinary bladder or urethra. Cats with FLUTD are neutered, overweight, and middle-aged. Diagnostic tests are usually required to arrive at a definitive diagnosis.


The most common cause for cats younger than 10 years is Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC). The exact cause of this condition is unknown. Some of the symptomps are.

  • Frequent trips to the litter box
  • Behavior change – irritability
  • Over-grooming (especially genitals)
  • Urinating in inappropriate places
  • Pain and difficulty urinating
  • Blood in the urine

Common Causes Of FLUTD

  • Urethral obstruction – solids are lodged in the urethra preventing the cat from urinating. This constitutes a medical emergency.
  • Urolithiasis – this refers to stones formed in the urinary bladder which sometimes block the cat’s urethra.
  • ​Urinary tract infection – tends to be seen in cats over 10 years.
  • Anatomical defects – injury to the urethra can cause fibrous tissue to form
  • Neoplasia (tumors in the bladder) – fortunately this is rare in cats


The vet will develop a treatment plan best suited to the cat’s symptoms depending on the specifics of the findings. Complete urinalysis, blood tests, X-rays, ultrasound will be made to be sure that your cat has FLUTD.

The vet will develop a treatment plan best suited to the cat’s symptoms depending on the specifics of the findings. In case that your cat has FLUTD be aware of 2 basic rules that will help her.

Litter Box1

Keep litter-boxes clean and have enough litter boxes


Fresh water available at all times

​Feline Rabies

This virus infects the nervous systems. It can be transmitted among species including humans. It is generally carried by wildlife such as foxes, raccoons, bats, skunks, along with feral dogs and cats.

It most often is transmitted via a bite wound.

Rabies Symptomps

As you probably know there is no treatment for rabies, and unfortunately it will lead to death of your feline. So we one more time emphasize importance of vaccination. If you notice some of the symptoms in your cat immediately go to your vet.

  • Changes in behavior such as restlessness or aggression
  • Muscle tremors
  • ​Fever and weakness
  • Incoordination

Rabies in Cats

These signs may only last for a day or two. As it progresses there will be paralysis of muscles, a change of vocalization, and finally death.

Zoonotic Diseases Associated With Cats

Zoonotic diseases, are diseases that can be transmitted from living animals to people. They can be caused by viruses, bacteria, parasites, fungi, prions.

They can be spread directly from animals to people, or by another organism such as mosquitoes (this is referred to as a vector).

They can be spread from cats to people through saliva, feces, urine and other fluids. Spreading can be induced also with scratching or sneezing.

Cuddling with Her Cat

Cat Zoonotic Diseases

Cats can spread numerous diseases to their owners. Take a look of some of them.

  • tapeworms
  • roundworms
  • toxoplasma
  • streptococcus
  • listeria
  • cat scratch disease (cat scratch fever)
  • mycoplasma
  • salmonella
  • cowpox
  • rabies


Limiting human exposure was the advice in the past. But the health benefits of humans bonding with animals is now considered to outweigh the risks. Good hygiene around pets and routine veterinary care decrease the risk of exposure to many of these diseases.

​Diabetes Mellitus

The number of cats with diabetes mellitus seems to be rising. This is thought to be related to obesity, age, sedentary lifestyle, diets high in carbohydrates, medications, infections, hyperthyroidism, chronic renal issues. Some breeds seem to be more prone.

The cat’s pancreas doesn’t secrete enough insulin or its cells have lost their ability to respond to the action of insulin.

Diabetes in Cats

Type 1 is uncommon in cats and is due to the pancreas not releasing enough insulin.

Type 2 is the most common kind seen in cats and usually occurs because the cat’s cells have become resistant to insulin.


Type 2 is the most common kind seen in cats and usually occurs because the cat’s cells have become resistant to insulin.

  • Increased drinking
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite
  • Lack of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • The cat appears to be walking on the rear hocks instead of the toes


The condition can be managed. For most cats this involves daily insulin injections and diet management. A high protein, low carb diet is helpful and there are prescription diets for this. There are some medications as well.

As in humans there are tools for monitoring blood sugar levels, just as with people and the owner should also monitor appetite, drinking and potential behavior changes.


Cats have unique nutritional needs and are vulnerable to a number of illnesses of those needs are not met: obesity, urinary tract disease, heart disease, and more.

Cat Obesity

Your cat may look to you to be overweight without being overweight at all. Your vet will have to determine this.

Health Concerns

Cats at the ideal body weight live longer lives and feel better.

Obesity can lead to health concerns such as diabetes, heart disease, liver disease.

Fat cells may be responsible for inflammation that intensifies other conditions such as asthma, inflammatory bowel disease. If a cat has arthritis, extra weight can really increase the suffering the cat experiences.


Diet. Feed the cat a high quality diet intended for cats. Discuss portions with your cat’s vet. Hold back on treats. There are prescription diets available.

Play with your cat and give her lots of attention. Some cats eat out of boredom. You can use a puzzle feeder to slow down their eating and provide stimulation.

Exercise with Your Overweight Cat

In multiple-cat households, try giving each cat a different feeding station. There are even devices will only allow a certain cat access based on an ID tag or microchip!

Exercise. Indoor cats especially require more effort to give them enough exercise. It also keeps them mentally stimulated.


Even if your cat does not go outside you can bring fleas in from outdoors, or your dog may. The cat flea can carry the larval stage of the tapeworm and cats can become infected by ingesting fleas while they are grooming.

  • Fleas can transmit other infections between cats.
  • Fleas feed on your cat’s blood and this can cause anemia and death in young kittens.
  • Fleas are responsible for the transmission of cat scratch disease (cat scratch fever) from cats to humans. The bacteria is spread when fleas feed on blood.

Fleas are Common Cause of Scratching

Some cats can become allergic to fleas. This causes them to scratch and groom excessively to the point of creating bald spots or open sores. Your cat may require yearly steroid shots if fleas.

You can tell if your cat has fleas by his excessive scratching or by using a flea comb to search for flea dirt in his fur. Some people are attractive to cat fleas and if you have flea bites so does your cat.


There are modern treatments for your cat and treatment for areas of your home where your cat resides. You can try flea collars and powders but some product can be ineffective, and cats usually don’t like products that make noise such as mousses and sprays.

Treatment for Fleas

Many people have success with the “spot” type treatments, but some cats will get sick from just the smell. Also remember that Don’t use a product formulated for a dog on a cat.


Cats swallow a lot of their own hair through grooming. Some cats groom the other cats in the house as well. Their rough tongues pull the dead and excess fur from their coats and they ingest much of it.

Grooming Hairballs

Hairballs are masses of hair, debris from the cat’s fur, and undigested bits of food all formed into a lovely cylinder.

Hairball symptoms are easy to recognize. You may think your cat is suffering from some kind of serious sickness. He will gag and cough and wheeze with his head low to the ground a few times over a period of days. Eventually you will find the hairball on the floor.


  • Add moisture content to her diet (possibly canned food)
  • Add an omega-3 supplement
  • ​Brush your cat at least several times a week
  • Provide your cat with cat grass to aid digestion

​Skin Problems

The condition of your cat’s skin is an indication of his general health. The causes of skin problems can be external parasites, allergies, seasonal changes, stress, or a combination. Skin problems are one of the most common reasons people take their cats to the vet.

Symptoms Of Skin Problems

Skin problems are one of the most common reasons people take their cats to the vet. Some of the most common symptoms are:

  • excessive scratching, licking, chewing, grooming
  • scabs
  • redness or inflammation
  • round, scaly patches on the face and paws
  • dry, flaky or irritated skin
  • hair loss, bald patches
  • rashes
  • swelling, lumps, skin discoloration
  • blood or pus

Common Causes

As with other diseases covered in this article, if you notice changes to cats skin that causes itching and scratching best solution is to go to vets as soon as possible. There are numerous causes for skin conditions.

  • Fleas or other external parasites
  • Seasonal or food allergies
  • Grooming products
  • Seasonal changes and environmental factors
  • Stress – cat psychology

About the Author YourFamilyPets

Leave a Comment: