Common Cat Illnesses You Should Know About

A cat being examined by a vetIt may surprise people to learn that us humans share many similarities with animals, and the illnesses we can catch can often be caught by our furry friends too! Here are just some of the diseases which could affect your cat, and what to do about them.

Feline Upper Respiratory Infection

This can be thought of as the cat’s version of the common cold, causing unpleasant symptoms that take time to pass. Both viruses and bacteria can cause this condition, and can cause symptoms including discharge from the eyes or nose (pus is possible) and tiredness. A fever and loss of appetite is possible too!

While humans are used to shifting their colds within a week, affected cats can remain ill for up to 3 weeks.

It is a good idea to keep your cat away from other cats during this period to prevent the spread of illness.

Skin Disease

Skin disease can take many forms and can have a number of causes, from parasites to fungi to allergies and more. Skin disease can be especially uncomfortable for the cat if it causes itching. The best way to prevent this is to use medicines which prevent parasites and ticks, give regular baths, and ensure the cage is kept clean if you are using one.

Depending on the cause of the problem, treatment can vary and is best assessed by a vet. For allergies, antihistamines (Benadryl as an example) may be given – your vet will help you to pick the correct one.


Owners have likely heard of this serious disease before. Distemper occurs by a particular virus which attacks the cat’s intestines. In fact, it can even lead to death in some cases. Fever, vomiting, diarrhea and seizures are all possible symptoms. If you suspect distemper, seek help from your vet immediately.

Feline Infectious Enteritis

This one can be more common and kittens. With this disease, the cat’s white blood cell count drops, and symptoms can include a fever, GI distress (vomiting/diarrhea) and a loss of appetite. Because this condition can cause death it is especially important to seek veterinary care.

Mental Illness

Yes, cats can suffer from psychological disease too. One such problem is known as “psychogenic abnormal feeding behavior” and happens when a cat is particularly obsessed with food, eating to excess. Symptoms can include aggression or vocalization around food or meal times. Again, professional care is recommended in this case.

A full scientific text detailing successful treatment of this particular problem can be found here.

However, this is not the only mental illness that cats can suffer from. For senior cats, dementia can be a big problem. In fact, it is said that over 50% of cats have some form of dementia after the age of 15.

General Physical Pain

Physical pain as in joint pain, back pain, and other such problems. Arthritis can affect cats and, much like dementia, tends to affect seniors to a greater degree. Back pain can happen if the cat has an accident such as a fall. Back problems can be trickier to diagnose but look out for if your cat seems unsteady when standing/moving around despite the lack of a leg injury or limp.

Veterinary care should be sought for a diagnosis, in case of some type of damage that requires a more “aggressive” approach to treatment. But if it is nothing serious, OTC balms can be applied to the area to help relieve the pain.

For arthritis or hip dysplasia, supplements containing glucosamine and chondroitin may offer relief without having to turn to medication. Usually medication come with potential side effects, so it’s a good idea to try the natural route first (if at all possible).