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Common Cat Illnesses

No one wants to think that their cat might get sick, but it does happen. And the best you can do for your cat is get the proper care early. Knowing some of the most common illnesses cats can get and their symptoms will be a great help so you can get the proper treatment started right away.

1. Upper Respiratory Infection (URI)

URIs are some of the most common illnesses cats can get. It’s especially worrisome when your cat is around other cats, or when you get a cat from a kennel. Some URIs are extremely contagious, like feline calicivirus or feline herpes. These are passed easily in multi-cat homes or shelters through the food bowls, water dishes, during grooming, and when a cat sneezes.

You should look for a runny nose, sneezing, coughing, nasal discharge, fever, congestion, and/or rapid breathing. This is easily cleared up with some antibiotics. And it is prevented by keeping cats indoors and away from other infected cats, minimal stress, and up-to-date shots.

2. Feline Gingivitis

Yes, cats can have dental health issues just like humans. Feline gingivitis is caused by plaque on the teeth left from food particles; a high carbohydrate diet in particular leads to plaque and tartar. Eventually this causes a separation of the gum, bad breath and difficulty eating.

If gingivitis is diagnosed then your cat will need a professional cleaning, followed by daily brushings. To help prevent this from happening, you’ll want to provide your cat with a good dental-approved diet and ideally clean your cat’s teeth as well.

3. Worms

Cats can get parasites even if they are indoor cats. Roundworm is the most common type of parasite. Cats can get this from eating infected insects, birds, rodents, or even from soil that has been infected with roundworm. The signs of roundworm are spaghetti-shaped pieces in a cats feces or vomit, diarrhea, loss of appetite, a distended belly, and a dull coat. This can be fatal in a cat so don’t ignore these signs.

Another parasite to watch out for is a tapeworm. This can also cause loss of appetite and loss of weight and mild diarrhea. The veterinarian will treat with a dewormer and recommend keeping your cat indoors (if you aren’t already), flea control, and keeping things clean.

4. Urinary Tract Diseases

These develop in a cat’s bladder or the urethra which carries the urine out of the cat. It is characterized by painful urination and blood in the urine. The cause could be from a few different things including cystitis, dehydration, bacterial infection, or dry cat food.

If you notice your cat seeming to strain when he urinates and meowing in pain, then he probably has a urinary tract disease. Your veterinarian will probably prescribe some medication and a change in diet. He will monitor your cat for blood in the urine. Limiting stress and giving your cat the proper nutrition can help prevent urinary tract diseases.

5. Feline Kidney or Renal Failure

Chronic renal failure (CRF) is something that can develop slowly over time before your cat begins to show any symptoms. And unfortunately once symptoms are present it’s usually too late. The symptoms include dehydration, excessive thirst, frequent urination, weight loss, and bad breath.

While there is no cure, your cat can be kept comfortable if this is what’s diagnosed. A change of diet with IV fluids and medications can help your cat. Another renal failure is called acute renal failure. This occurs quickly, usually from the ingestion of antifreeze or an illness that affects the kidneys. The symptoms are straining to urinate, vomiting, lack of coordination, seizures, bad breath, and not eating. You must seek medical attention immediately to get the toxins out of the cat. Full recovery will depend on the severity of the damage.

So these are the illnesses you want to be aware of as a cat owner. Make sure you seek medical attention immediately if your cat is behaving differently than usual.

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