Updated 01 October 2013

8 main diseases in cats

Look out for signs that your cat may be ill. Check out what these symptoms could indicate.


Most serious diseases in cats can be prevented through vaccines administered by your local veterinarian.

Nevertheless, it is still a good idea to watch your cat and see if you notice any changes in their behaviour, as this could mean your cat is ill.

The following diseases are most commonly found in cats:

A highly contagious condition that affects the respiratory system. Symptoms include loss of appetite, ulcers in and around the mouth, and lethargy.

Feline Immune Deficiency Virus (FIV)
This is similar to the human pandemic known as HIV. The disease is thought to spread through cat bites and it affects the immune system. Symptoms include infections in the urinary tract, respiratory tract, kidneys and liver.

Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
This virus is transmitted from one cat to another. It seriously affects the cat’s immune system to fight off various infections. Signs of the disease are difficult to observe and the cat may seem healthy. The most obvious way of telling that your cat is suffering from the disease is if they are constantly becoming ill.

Feline respiratory complex
Also known as "cat flu". Infects the cat through dirty litter trays or contact with infected secretions by other cats. Symptoms include inflammation of the eyes, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite and constant sneezing. Other symptoms that could be regarded as serious are mouth ulcers, weight loss and refusal to eat.

A disease which weakens the immune system by suppressing white blood cell production. It mostly affects kittens, but is also found in older cats. Symptoms include bloody stools, fever and depression. Full recovery from the disease is uncommon.

A fatal viral disease that is contracted through wild animals. It can be passed on to your pet and humans and it affects the central nervous system. Symptoms include excess drooling, seizures, unexplained aggression, and difficulty with swallowing.

A respiratory disorder that causes constant coughing, sneezing, fever and poor appetite. A crusty discharge may also occur from the eyes. Vaccines are however quite effective in preventing the condition.

Fungal diseases of the skin are quite common amongst cats. The most noticeable features of a skin condition are hair loss in a specific area, and broken, inflamed and scaly skin. Medication is available to treat such conditions.


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