Helen Sanders Cat Protection and Welfare Society


Common Feline Illnesses

These are some common illnesses and conditions in cats. It is not an extensive list and not meant in any way to replace veterinary care. Always consult a veterinarian if your cat is experiencing distress, illness or a change in behavior.

1. Vomiting

Vomiting is a very common problem with cats with a multitude of causes, ranging from ingestion of object or poison (string, some plants, rat poison for example). To infection, urinary tract disease, constipation, kidney disease, diabetes and more or something as simple as hairballs.

There are different kinds of vomiting, of digested food or something food just eaten, more akin to regurgitation. If the vomiting is chronic, it is helpful to keep track of when and what the cat ate or what may precede the vomiting. It may even be helpful to take a sample of your cat’s vomit to the vet.

3. Fleas

Fleas are very common, especially in temperate climates
There are a number of good flea prevention medications. Always talk to a vet about which ones are safe for your cat.

5. Diarrhea

Many things can cause diarrhea in cats, including intestinal parasites, spoiled food, allergies, infection, liver disease, cancer, and more.

Symptoms of diarrhea are loose, watery, or liquid stool. Since diarrhea can quickly cause dehydration which can be possibly life threatening in kittens or smaller cats, it is important to determine the cause and initiate treatment quickly. You can support your cat’s hydration by adding water to canned food or even syringing unflavored Pedialyte directly into their mouth, or for more advanced care, administering subcutaneous fluids. Sometimes probiotics can help balance digestional upset, but if diarrhea persists, always consult a veterinarian.

7. Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (Herpes virus in cats)

A frequently encountered issue is a common virus which can manifest in several ways, including runny eyes, lethargy, loss of appetite and congestion. It is not unusual for a newly adopted cat to experience a viral flare-up from all the changes and new environment. Most cats, mammals in general, carry dormant viruses but in times of stress which lowers the immune system, these viruses can appear. Often they will resolve on own with supportive care, good food, plenty of water, but if not then antibiotics for secondary infections or antivirals may be indicated. A supplement which may reduce the severity and duration of viral flare ups is l-lysine, an amino acid. There are various formulations in paste, gel, powder, even treats specifically for cats and available commercially without prescription.

2. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Diseases (FLUTD) and blockage

Some estimates say as many as 3% of cats seen by vets have feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which is actually a group of feline diseases with multiple causes. Female and male cats can get FLUTD, and it often occurs in cats that are overweight or unfit or who eat dry food. Stress, a multi-cat household, and sudden changes can all raise a cat’s risk of FLUTD, and treatment depends on the type of FLUTD your cat has. FLUTD symptoms include:
It’s always an emergency if your cat can’t urinate.Call your vet immediately if you suspect your

4. Worms

If your cat had fleas, it likely the cat has worms. Essentially, flea larva ingests a worm egg, then the cat while grooming ingests the flea and the egg hatches in the cat’s intestines.

Symptoms of a worm infection can be subtle but may include vomiting and weight loss. The easiest way to tell if your cat has worms is to look at its feces, around its anus and in bedding. Usually worms come out of your cat’s anus while it is sleeping or relaxed.If you see small white worms or what look like grains of rice or sesame seeds, your cat likely has tapeworms.

There are various kinds of worms with the most common being tapeworms and roundworms. Consult your veterinarian for the best treatment options, which can include injection, oral, or topical medication. But because cats almost always get worms as a result of swallowing a flea, be sure to handle any flea problems your cat along with treating worms.

6. Eye Problems

Eye problems in cats can be caused by a number of things, including conjunctivitis, corneal ulcer, cataracts, glaucoma, trauma, viruses, inflammation, and retinal disease.

A few symptoms that may mean your cat has eye problems include watery eyes, tear-stained fur, cloudiness, red or white eyelid linings, gunk in the corners of the eye, squinting, pawing at the eye, or a visible third eyelid.

Unless you know what’s causing your cat’s eye problems, there isn’t much you can do other than call your vet. Eye problems should be considered an emergency so make appointment immediately.