Signs of Illness in your Cat

Signs of Illness in your Cat

As pet parents, one of our greatest concerns is the health of our pets. However, sometimes knowing when something is wrong can be difficult since our animals are unable to communicate with us. This being the case, it’s important to have knowledge of common cat ailments and the symptoms that accompany them in order to know if a vet visit is needed or if it’s something that will run its course.

A call to your vet is always a good idea when you notice something isn’t quite right, for example, that your “house cat” suddenly wants to go outside and run. This is known as “having one foot in the wild” and can often be a sign that your cat is sick. Cat illness can be categorized into three different groups:

  1. Major Medical Cat Illnesses
  2. Medical Disorders
  3. Age Related Disorders



One of the most serious diseases that affects cats is Feline Infectious Peritonitis. FIP can often be fatal in cats and can also be difficult to diagnose since the symptoms can be similar to other, less serious ailments. FIP is caused by the coronavirus and infected cats will shed the virus in their saliva and feces, which makes it a common and dangerous ailment for catteries. Symptoms include sneezing, lethargy, fever, loss of appetite and weight, difficulty breathing, sudden abdominal swelling and in some cases, a breakdown of body systems. If you notice any of these symptoms, call your vet right away.

Another serious illness common to cats is the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. This is basically a breakdown of the immune system; much like HIV is in humans.  Cats with FIV can have the virus for a long time before showing symptoms. Common symptoms include fever, weight loss, anemia, diarrhea and a messy coat to name just a few. Proper vet care for your cat diagnosed with FIV will ensure a longer healthier life and can slow the progression of the disease.

Feline Leukemia Virus is another serious disease that only affects cats. It can be passed from one cat to another through saliva, feces and blood. It can cause both cancerous and non-cancerous diseases in cats, however, the virus can be destroyed by household bleach and other detergents, so a clean environment for your cat can go a long way to prevent serious illness. The symptoms of Feline Leukemia can vary depending on the type and stage of the disease but can include enlarged lymph nodes, weight loss, diarrhea and even depression.


Medical disorders in cats are less serious than the infectious diseases listed above, but they do need to be monitored and treated. The two most common medical disorders that cats can experience, are Feline Diabetes, and Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease.

Feline diabetes is often brought on by obesity, however, some cats, like people, can have a genetic pre-disposition to the disease. Excessive urinating and excessive thirst are the two most common symptoms. As the disease progresses it can cause other issues, such as vomiting, weight loss, weakness and dehydration. However, with good vet care and treatment, cats can live long lives with diabetes.

Feline Lower Urinary Tract disease tends to be more common in male cats than in female cats. Symptoms can include difficulty urinating, an increase in the need to urinate, bloody urine, loss of appetite and urinating outside the litter box. If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, call your vet right away. Antibiotics are typically the course of treatment for a bladder infection, but it’s always a good idea to rule out other illnesses.


Just like humans, animals, including cats, age and with the aging process comes change. Skin conditions, dehydration, hearing loss, as well as more serious issues such as diabetes, kidney disease and others are all common ailments in an aging cat. While some age-related issues are expected, good care, proper nutrition and a clean environment will contribute to a healthier and longer life for you cat.

A good rule of thumb to remember is that if you suspect something is wrong with your cat, don’t delay; call your vet and get your cat the care he or she needs.

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