Know the signs – Common cat illnesses

Know the signs – Common cat illnesses

Cats, despite their strong and independent nature, still need you to know the signs when they’re coming down with something, to make sure they get on the right road to recovery. Often when cats feel unwell, they’ll become lethargic and withdrawn, losing their appetite and typical playful nature. While these signs indicate they’re not feeling quite right, it can be difficult to pinpoint exactly what’s wrong.

Here’s an overview of some of the most common cat illnesses, because knowing more about them makes it easier to identify the signs and this could save you time, money and more importantly, emotional stress for you and your beloved feline friend!

Common cat illnesses and how to spot them

Diabetes Mellitus

What is Diabetes Mellitus?

Diabetes is caused by either a lack of insulin (Type I), the hormone that helps the body take up the nutrients when they eat, or when the tissues in their body stops reacting to insulin alongside a reduced amount of insulin production (Type II). Both cause blood sugar levels to rise, causing hyperglycaemia, which can lead to multiple health problems if left untreated.

Symptoms of Diabetes Mellitus:

  • Increased water consumption
  • Increased urination
  • Weight loss
  • Changes in appetite (both an increase or decrease)
  • Depression
  • Sweet smelling breath

How to treat Diabetes Mellitus:

If your cat is diagnosed with Type II diabetes, diets low in carb, high in fibre and protein alongside oral medication may help. If they’re Type I, they will most likely need insulin injections to regulate their blood glucose levels. You can prevent diabetes from developing by maintaining a healthy and balanced diet for your feline friend, with obesity a leading cause of the disease.

Feline Leukaemia Virus (FELV)

What is Feline Leukaemia Virus?

Known as one of the most common causes of diseases and killers of domestic cats, the Feline Leukaemia Virus attacks a cat’s immune system, which opens them up to a whole range of nasty illnesses like kidney disease, anaemia and even cancer. Kittens and young cats, those living with an infected cat and those born to an infected mother are most at risk. It’s spread through bodily fluids, like sweat, saliva, urine and blood, so can be also spread between cats that roam around outside.

Symptoms of Feline Leukaemia Virus:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Fever
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Vision problems

How to treat Feline Leukaemia Virus:

While it can be prevented through vaccinations for cats at risk of developing it, sadly there is no cure once they contract it. They can still lead happy lives, just make sure you put things in place to reduce the risk of transferring the illness to other cats in the neighbourhood!


What is Ringworm?

Ringworm is caused by a fungus that infects a cat’s hair, skin and nails. Highly contagious, it causes red dry patches on the skin, and can spread from cats to other animals in the house – and even to people.

Symptoms of Ringworm:

  • Patchy fur loss
  • Red or pink patches of skin
  • Scaly or itchy skin

How to Treat Ringworm:

In order to eliminate ringworm your vet may prescribe a topical cream for the patchy areas of skin and in the case of dogs with longer hair, it might be necessary to trim fur while it is being treated to avoid a recurrence. Make sure you wash your hands thoroughly after applying the cream to avoid contracting it yourself.

Upper Respiratory Infection

What is an Upper Respiratory Infection?
Upper respiratory infections are fairly common in cats, especially kittens, and are caused by a variety of viruses and bacteria. They’re often transmitted from cat to cat through sneezing and coughing, or while sharing food and water bowls.

Symptoms of a Upper Respiratory Infection:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Wheezing
  • Weeping eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Fever

How to treat an Upper Respiratory Infection:

As they can be caused by a variety of bacteria and viruses, it’s important to get your cat checked out by a vet as soon as you suspect they may have an infection. They’ll be able to prescribe the correct medication or supply fluids for dehydration. Left untreated, they can lead to more severe illnesses like pneumonia.

There are obviously a plethora of illnesses your pet is exposed to, just like us. You need to make sure you take all sensible measures to protect your pet – whether that’s vaccinations where required/available, through to keeping their diet balanced and healthy to keep them fit and as resistant as possible.

It’s important to consider the cost of managing and treating common illnesses. Pet care bills can very quickly mount up, so it’s always advisable to make sure your cat has adequate insurance cover. Find out more about the policies we offer to find the best option for you and your cat.

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