Diseases of cats: symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention

 I guess for anyone who brings a cat into the house, bought in a store, or picked up on the street, she becomes a loyal companion, a sweet pet, or a full member of the family. But sometimes these complex mysterious creatures make us worry – strange behavior and poor well-being of the pet cause concern for his health. We will look at the symptoms and causes of the most frequent diseases of cats. 

How do you know your cat is sick? 

Each owner of a small predator is familiar with the volatility of his pet: serenity and drowsiness are periodically replaced by high activity, and moderation in food is a truly beastly appetite. Sometimes this happens for natural reasons, and sometimes it may indicate that your favorite or favorite has some kind of functioning disorder.

Some of the symptoms that indicate that your pet is unwell are


  • Lack of food, poor appetite, loss of weight, or sharp mass
  • Lethargy or aggression, nervousness;
  • redness, skin peeling
  • The appearance of the hair;
  • Secretions from the eyes and nose;
  • Increased or decreased temperature
  • Blood in the secretions, difficulty in urinating or cessation of urination;
  • Diarrhea, vomiting. 

The presence of one or more of the described signs is already a reason to consult a specialist, since many diseases pose a serious risk to the animal, and only timely examination and treatment will eliminate or prevent them.

Common diseases of cats


Cats, especially those not vaccinated, areas susceptible to disease as other pets, so it is better to know in advance what viruses and infections can «attack» a cat, and to which doctor should be approached. Almost all diseases of the cat family, thanks to years of veterinary research, are now classified. We will only list the most common and dangerous diseases of cats, in order of frequency. 

Skin and wool diseases

Skin and wool problems are frequent diseases of cats. The symptoms will be noticed by every attentive host: nervousness, constant scratching of the skin, excessive licking and gouging, various stains, sprinkles, the appearance of the patches.

In turn, most of the skin diseases of cats are associated with parasites: fleas, mites, moisturizers, and lice. Pets get sick after walking down the street, in the cellars of houses, coming into contact with rodents and other infected animals. In the apartment, parasites can fall on the cat’s coat from the owner’s shoes or clothing. Signs of fleas and lice: the animal is anxious, scratches a certain area of the body, and on the coat, you can see traces of insect activity – small black dots. Ear mites are characterized by a dark brown plaque in the auricles, and the cat shakes its head, but it is difficult to make a precise diagnosis without a veterinarian. 

Fungal skin diseases in cats are also frequent – the most famous and contagious is the shearing lichen, especially dangerous for a young pet. The appearance of the disease manifests itself in the form of reddish follicles, grayish scabs on the skin that are often confused with dandruff. The main reason for shearing is contact with a sick animal. It should be remembered that many types of mycosis are transmitted from pet to master, so it is important to notice symptoms of cat disease in time: otherwise, the health of all residents of the house will be endangered.

Cats also experience skin problems due to allergic reactions. Allergies are particularly difficult to diagnose due to the similarity of symptoms to other skin pathologies – itching, redness, and peeling on individual areas of the body are also common.

If any of these symptoms occur, it is best to contact the veterinarian-dermatologist immediately. With proper and timely intervention, many skin diseases are treated quickly enough without causing significant damage to the health of the pet. The treatment of diseases is mostly medicinal: in the case of parasites and fungi, sprays and ointments are used, in the case of allergies it is important to stop contact with the irritant in time, steroids, and healing creams are prescribed to eliminate its manifestations. 

Urinary disease


Urolithiasis is the most dangerous disease to which cats, rather than cats, are most often exposed due to their body’s features. The onset of urinary disease (ICD) can happen suddenly – until recently, a healthy animal suffers pain when trying to pee, mew. Blood in the urine can be seen. If delayed, the consequences can be severe, even fatal. The cause of ICD is usually poor nutrition – poor quality food, regular intake of raw fish and meat, lack of clean drinking water, hereditary predisposition, low mobility, and obesity.

The disease is diagnosed by a therapist and treated by a nephrologist based on the results of the tests. In cats, as a rule, complex methods are used for the treatment of urinary disease: dietary changes, medicinal and homeopathic preparations, lithotripsy (shock-wave therapy). In case of emergency, surgery is possible to remove the stones.

Infectious diseases of cats


In turn, they are divided into viral, fungal, and bacterial infections, depending on the causative agent.

Viral diseases include, for example, infectious panleukaemia (cat plague), sometimes instantly killing an animal, coronaviruses, caliciviruses, rabies. The symptoms of viral diseases are different, and many are characterized by fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and ulcers. Infection most often occurs through contact with a sick animal. Antiviral drugs and serums are used for treatment and their effectiveness depends on the type and stage of the disease. 

Among bacterial diseases, the most frequent are infectious anemia, salmonella. Anemia causes fever, sluggishness, food deprivation, and mouth pallor. Salmonella is also accompanied by high temperatures and loss of appetite, as well as vomiting and cold. Treatment takes the form of antibiotics, diet changes, homeopathic drugs, hyperimmune serums.

Infections caused by fungi affect the external and internal organs of the animal. There are many varieties of these pathologies, depending on the nature of the pathogen: cryptococcosis, candidiasis, histoplasmosis. Any contact with the fungus spores, through the wound, with food, when breathing, causes the animal to fall ill.

Infectious diseases have many subspecies and have many different symptoms, so it is up to an experienced veterinarian who diagnoses them and determines the treatment plan. 

Eye disease


The main types of eye diseases in cats are not difficult to detect – they are visible from external signs:

  • Swelling, red eyelids
  • Clouded crystal lens
  • Protrusion of the eyeball;
  • dilation of the pupil, lack of reaction to light;
  • Eye secretions, transparent or purulent.

If at least one of these symptoms is present in a pet – you should go to a veterinary clinic: diagnosis and treatment should only be performed by a qualified ophthalmologist. The most common eye diseases in cats are glaucoma, conjunctivitis, cataracts, inflammation, and corneal wounds. Depending on the type of pathology, antibiotics and ointments are prescribed, and in some cases (such as cataracts) surgery may be required. 

Ear disease

In addition to the most common disease – the ear parasites we have already mentioned – cats often have other ear diseases: otitis, eczema, hematomas.

The most dangerous are otitis, an inflammation that causes inflammation in the cats’ auricles, as well as a large number of sulfur and blood-like excretions. An animal can avoid touching a sick area and react aggressively. The most frequent causes of the disease are hypothermia, injuries, infections, foreign bodies.

The initial examination of a cat, when suspected of ear disease, is conducted by a veterinary general practitioner, further treatment of the animal depends on the problem detected. In the case of hematomas, surgical removal of blood clots is prescribed, to treat otitis – course of antibiotics, in case of eczema prescribed special oils.

Liver disease

This group includes several diseases such as hepatitis, liver failure, and lipid. Symptoms of liver disease in cats include:

  • Lethargy, loss of appetite
  • Vomiting, diarrhea
  • Increase in liver size experienced during palpation;
  • in serious cases – jaundice.

There are many possible causes of the pet’s disease: poor diet, poisoning, drug overdose, lack of vitamins. The diagnosis is performed by a therapist or a gastroenterologist. The treatment depends on the liver disease identified, often including a special diet on therapeutic feeding and the taking of restorative drugs. 

Heart disease

The most common heart pathology in cats is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy or ventricular enlargement. Statistically, almost one in ten animals is affected. Symptoms of the disease are not always visible to the hosts – respiratory failure, loss of appetite, sluggishness, rapid fatigue. However, the disease is very dangerous, and even with timely treatment, usually results in the death of the pet within a few years. When such a diagnosis is made by a cardiologist, a cat is given supportive therapy that can prolong the animal’s life and improve his well-being.

Stomach and bowel diseases

Intestinal diseases in cats are most often inflammatory. Symptoms are similar to many other pathologies: diarrhea, vomiting, weight loss, and possible mucus in the secretions, so GI problems are often confused with other diseases. An accurate diagnosis can be made by a gastroenterologist based on an examination of the animal as well as the results of the analysis. Treatment includes a diet (in some cases even short-term starvation), occasionally supplemented by medication.


those diseases are found in almost one in five cats, with aggressive types of cancer characteristic of the species. As in humans, diagnosis of oncology in animals is difficult due to the low early-onset symptoms as well as similarities with other diseases. The reason for referral to a veterinarian-oncologist can be bad appetite, weight loss, faint wool, shortness of breath, edema, stains, ulcers and swelling on the body, digestive disorder.

Treatment may include chemotherapy and surgery. 

It should not be forgotten that the best way to preserve a pet’s health is to prevent disease in time. First and foremost, it concerns the comfort of the cat, balanced and regular feeding, and maintenance of immunity. And, of course, you don’t have to give up vaccinations – it helps protect the favorite from many diseases. But if your cat does get the disease, you should go to the veterinary clinic as soon as possible, where the animal will be properly diagnosed and treated by a specialist. 


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