Find out the most common cat diseases, pathologies, and their symptoms: allergies, flu, pneumonia, colds, conjunctivitis, cataracts, and otitis. Since health is one of every lucky cat owner’s key concerns, we are going to post a series of articles about the most common pathologies and diseases.
The main thing is to remember that we are not veterinarians here, and only a certified vet can determine what’s wrong with your cat. However, we are going to give you some clues you can use to figure out what’s wrong with him.
Common Cat Diseases #1: Cat allergies
We are all aware that people can be allergic to cats. What’s not so well-known is the fact that cats also can be allergic to external factors, although not to human beings.
Allergy symptoms in a cat include:
- Respiratory symptoms: coughing, mucus, sneezing, respiratory difficulties, nasal and/or eye secretions, etc.
- Skin: red and/or irritated areas, intense and persistent itching, eye itching and tearing, nasal secretions, etc.
- Stomach: vomits and diarrhea.
The first thing to do if the cat suffers from any allergies is to find out what is causing it (the allergen) and then try to remove it from the cat’s environment.
Some allergens that can produce allergies in cats include:
Common Cat Diseases #2: Flu – Feline Calicivirus
Feline calicivirus (also known as CFV or FCV) is a viral infection that produces a respiratory disease that can be more or less serious.
This virus is passed on from diseased cats to healthy ones through nasal secretions, tears, and saliva; or through indirect contact (for instance, through sharing objects that have been in touch with the virus). It’s high mutability skills and the fact that it can remain active up to 30 days once it comes out of the cat increases the risk of contagion. Besides, some cats become permanent hosts of the virus after going through the illness. They might not show signs of the illness, but they are constantly expelling the virus.
Symptoms of this cat flu include nasal and eye secretions, sneezing, low mood and loss of appetite. There can be mouth ulcers and wounds on the tongue and the palate, and abundant drooling.
Every cat is susceptible to getting the feline calicivirus but it is usually those stray kittens rescued from the streets that are more likely to present this disease, due to a weakened immune system. Signs appear between 2 and 10 days after exposition to the virus, and they last for 1-4 weeks.
Most of the cats infected with this flu recover, especially if this is caught on time and the cat’s defenses are strong, although some cases are irreversible.
Common Cat Diseases #3: Pneumonia Or Bronchopneumonia
Cats can suffer from pneumonia, a lung infection (acute bronchial and pulmonary alveolar swelling).
This health condition starts as a bacterial infection. The virus we just discussed, the feline calicivirus, is the usual suspect, although it is not the only causing agent.
Common symptoms are similar to the flu’s: fever, respiratory difficulty, sneezing, teary eyes and nasal secretion. Low mood and loss of appetite are other visible signs in cats with pneumonia. Besides, they can even get cyanosis (bluish tongue and gums).
Common Cat Diseases #4: Colds
Among respiratory diseases, cats also can catch a common cold if they get a virus.
Symptoms are similar to those we have just discussed: sneezing, nasal secretion, teary eyes and some fever.
We recommend you to check How to Treat a Cat With a Cold.
Next, we are going to discuss conjunctivitis, cataracts, and otitis.
Please note we are not veterinarians and you must seek advice from a reliable and certified vet to confirm any health issues about your cat and to know how to proceed.
Conjunctivitis In Cats
Cat eyes are not only peculiar but extremely delicate as well, which makes it more than usual for them to suffer from eye diseases. And one of the most common is indeed conjunctivitis.
Cat conjunctivitis takes place when the ocular membrane swells. Causes are diverse and include dust, wind, and allergens such as pollen, infections, and bacteria.
The most common symptoms are redness in the eyelid’s inner side (that can start in a pinkish hue and get darker), eye secretions (white, green or pale yellow), frequent tears and eye boogers. On occasion, the cat with conjunctivitis will touch or scratch his eyes more often than usual. If eyes are swollen, the cat will have a hard time opening them.
Typically, cat conjunctivitis is treated with eye drops, but make sure a vet prescribes them and advise you on the proper administration procedure.
In the same way, it happens to people and dogs, cats also can suffer from cataracts. This ocular problem consists of the crystalline’s alteration and loss of transparency.
While older cats are more prone to suffer from cataracts, they can show up for different reasons (genetic or inborn, and acquired). Not all cats that suffer from cataracts will lose their sight, especially when just one eye is affected. If the cataract is advanced, it could lead to blindness, and turn out to be painful for the cat.
One of the most obvious symptoms of cataracts is a sort of stain inside the pupil in a bluish gray or white shade. It is sometimes a small stain that keeps growing with time.
Other symptoms cats with cataracts present are related to the more than likely loss of sight: the cat moves in odd ways, he bumps into furniture, he shows insecurity about walking or climbing up to high places, he doesn’t calculate distance properly, he doesn’t recognize familiar faces, etc. There can be a change in eye color or pupil size, and there could be the eye or even nasal secretions (in cases where there might be an infection).
Regarding diseases that affect cats’ ears and hearing, otitis is among the most common. Feline otitis is the swelling of the auditory conduit (epithelial and auricular hall) and is usually very painful to the cat.
There are several kinds of otitis, depending on the affected sector of the ear: external otitis (the most common and less serious; it affects the external ear); middle otitis (it takes place in the middle ear, where the eardrum is, and can lead to its perforation) and internal otitis (in the internal ear, usually the most difficult to treat). External otitis, when not properly healed, can evolve into middle, and middle into internal otitis, which is why is so important to put some remedy as soon as possible.
The symptoms of a cat with otitis can vary greatly, depending on the kind and degree of the otitis. Some of them are:
- Constant head toss or leaning (to one side or both, for unilateral otitis or full one).
- Ear scratching and rubbing that goes beyond the usual. They can even hurt themselves and/or lose hair in the affected area.
- Ear redness and swelling.
- Pain in the affected area. We can notice if he screams or meows intensely when we pet him.
- Ear redness and swelling.
- Brown or black ear wax
- Bad smell in the ears
- Possible loss of hearing
The causes of otitis also vary greatly: foreign bodies in the auditory conduit such as leaves, twigs, and spikes; external parasites such as mites; bacteria and fungi, traumatisms, etc. Besides, some diseases provoke secondary otitis.
Every cat can suffer from otitis but is more common in those with a weakened immune system. There are also seasonal propensities: cats are more prone to get otitis during spring and summer (due to temperature rise and humidity).
Regarding age, it seems that 1-2-year-old cats tend to suffer more often from otitis. This risk skyrockets in the case of longhaired cats (since they have more hair in the ears) and those who spend plenty of time outdoors.