Cat Health Matters

That's right, your cat health matters! Cats like all other animals can't tell you when they are not well, but they will show changes in their behavior, personality and eating habits. Here you will find helpful information about the most common feline health issues, as well as how to identify the symptoms, and care. Although, it does not replace a visit to the Vet's office.

Common Diseases

Cat Health

There are several common diseases our feline friends can contract and as a cat owner we all should be aware of them, symptoms, change in behavior and the proper way to help your pet getting healthy again. Here are the most common cat health issues:

Feline Panleukopenia. This is a very strong virus. If your cat has this virus, it can remain contagious for several months or even years. The virus is normally found where the cat slips, litter boxes, the food and water bowls. The only way to keep your pet safe from this virus is to have it vaccinated. It is recommended that the first shot be given to kittens, the second one year later and every three years after that. Again, make sure your pet is protected against this virus, especially if you have an outdoor cat(s). Always consult a licensed Vet for more information regarding your pet’s shots.


Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis and Feline Calicivirus. These viruses relates to cases of infectious upper respiratory disease. Like many other common viruses, they are also transmitted by contact, during their play time, toys, sneezing and bowls. Cats with these viruses appear to have a cold; they sneeze a lot and have a running nose.

I have two cats (female 6 years old and male 2 years old), and only the male showed symptoms of these viruses about a year ago. At the time I took him to the Vet, and my Vet instructed to let him recover from the infections on his own. He told me that even with the vaccine he could still get a mild respiratory infection. After a few weeks he was back to normal, no signs of the infection.

A year later, my cat showed the same symptoms, after we moved from one State to another. So, I called my Vet and he told me that, the stress related to the moving probably triggered the symptoms. And, that we should watch him for a few days, and if he didn’t get better to contact a local veterinarian. A week or so later, he was back to normal. As a cat owner, cat health is one of the most important considerations.

Cat Health Tip #1: Like the Feline Panleukopenia, it is recommended that the first shot be given to kittens, the second one year later and every three years.

Feline Leukemia Virus. This is another virus that is transmitted throughout contact, via saliva, food or water bowl. Although, this virus could also be transmitted from the female cat to her kittens. Feline leukemia virus attack the cat’s immune system, which in turn can show signs of anemia, respiratory and other infections, weight loss, and death.

Vaccination is recommended, but there are cats that do not benefit from the protection against the virus. If you have indoor cats, make sure that your cats are tested and the proper treatment taken.

Heartworm. Your feline friend can contract this disease through a mosquito’s bite. Mosquitoes are the carrier of the heartworm larva. The larva will set in the cat’s lungs, which will cause respiratory illness, and then it will migrate to the rest of the body and finally lodging into the cat’s heart. Tests for heartworms in cats are, unfortunately, less accurate then in dogs.

Your Vet can perform the heartworm antigen and the heartworm antibody tests, although the results may be negative, even in cats that are infected by this worm. Some of the symptoms include: respiratory difficulty, coughing, vomiting, and lack of appetite. This disease show signs very similar to feline asthma.

This is a serious disease; consult your Vet for the proper treatment. There is no medication safe enough to kill the adult heartworms living in your feline’s heart. Most of the treatments will focus on reducing the inflammation on the cat’s body and lungs. If you just adopt a kitten, the best way to keep it health is by preventing such a disease. Your veterinarian can provide comprehensive information about cat health treatments.

Giardiasis. This is another parasite that can cause your feline serious illness. This parasite infects and lives in your cat’s intestines.

Since symptoms are manifested during times of stress, this disease is more likely to occur among rescued and shelter cats. Giardiasis is a very contagious disease among pets, and it may also be transferred to humans. Again, stress is a key factor on your cat’s immune system, which will be weak and symptoms of Giardiasis will be visible.

Symptoms may include: light colored feces, feces covered in mucus, loose green feces or green diarrhea, upset stomach, excess gas, bloody diarrhea, and loss of appetite. Diagnosis of any possible internal parasite can be done by a fecal test, ask your Vet for assistance. Always consult a veterinarian for the proper treatment.

As prevention goes, keep your feline away from infected, or potentially infected, areas; clean its bottom area with wet paper towel, or a wet tissue, clean water and food bowl, give your feline a high quality cat food, and minimize the stress around your pet.

Cat Health Tip #2: It is also very important to keep your pet hydrated, in addition to clean water, also give your cat canned food (if your cat does not like eat canned food, just add water to its dry food before giving it to your cat).

Rabies. This is another disease that is transmissible from animal to animal, and also to humans. It is passed on throughout the infected animal’s bite, by getting the virus-laden saliva in an open wound, splashed in the eye and or mouth.

As a cat lover, you must protect your feline, your family and yourself against such a deadly virus, get your pet vaccinated. Consult your physician and treat any bite wounds or other exposure as soon as possible. For more details about rabies and rabies vaccination, click here.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV). There is no cure for cats infected with this virus. The only way to know if your cat has the virus is to have it/them tested.

Cats with this virus will show several different issues, such as oral infections, eye disease, cancer and bone marrow disease. I decided not to have my cats tested, I love them and if they develop such virus, I will be there for them. It is up to you to have the test done or not.

Cat Dental Care

Dental issues and care. Cat health includes dental care. Your feline’s bad breath can be a symptom of numerous dental and gum illness, such as tartar formation, gum irritation, and eroded teeth. Symptoms also include, reluctance to eat or play with toys, failing to groom and even aggression.

Dental care is extremely important, infected gums and teeth is just the beginning, the bacteria growing in their mouth will soon spread to other parts of their bodies, affecting their kidneys, intestinal tract, joints and heart. By being proactive, you can prevent future diseases.

Cat Health Tip #3: Keep your cat's teeth and gum healthy by giving him/her at least some dry kibble as part of a healthy diet; brush your cat's teeth; you can also add to your cat's drinking water products that may help reduce tartar and plaque accumulation.


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