What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

Numerous cat illnesses and their symptoms can cause pet owners a lot of worries, and some of them may even be fatal if left untreated. Our Austell vets offer insight on some signs and symptoms of which to be aware. 

What are some common cat illnesses?

As a cat parent, you probably know that cats tend to instinctively isolate themselves when they're sick. Here are three common cat illnesses and their symptoms that warrant a trip to the vet:

1. Upper respiratory infections

Your cat's upper respiratory tract — their throat, nose and sinuses — can become infected with viruses and bacteria. Often passed around in multi-cat households and shelters, cats may contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus through something as basic as sharing a food or water bowl. 

They can transmit this virus to other cats the same way, by sneezing or by coughing. They can also pass it while grooming each other. 

Symptoms include:

  • Gagging and/or drooling
  • Decreased or lost appetite
  • Runny nose or nasal discharge (clear or colored)
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion 
  • Fever
  • Cough

2. Diabetes

If cats don't produce sufficient insulin to balance blood sugar or glucose levels, they develop diabetes mellitus. If left untreated, this illness may lead to several serious symptoms, including:

  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Motor function problems
  • An increased appetite (as the body cannot use the energy in food) or loss of appetite
  • Coma
  • Death

If diabetes is poorly controlled, the disease can shorten a cat's lifespan and lead to numerous health problems, such as nerve disorders. It may also result in severe emergency situations. Treatment will focus on managing this condition and can include insulin injections.

3. Cancer

Uncontrolled growth of cells can cause cancer, which can affect a wide range of organs and cells in a cat's body. The disease first starts to develop within a cell before it attaches to tissue below the skin and can eventually spread to other areas. 

A common contributor to cancer is feline leukemia virus. Other causes include environmental toxins. If caught early during a physical exam, your vet may be able to treat cancer. 

Symptoms of cancer can include:

  • Chronic weight loss
  • Lumps or bumps that change in size or shape
  • An odor from the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Marked increase or decrease in appetite
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

Depending on the type of cancer, when it's diagnosed, the type of cancer and its extent, its location within the body and other factors, a number of treatments — such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy — may be attempted. 

What should I do if my cat is ill?

If your cat is sick and exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, it's critical to bring them to the vet as soon as possible. At Bullard Animal Hospital, we have the tools and experience needed to provide your pet with the care they need.

Do you suspect your cat is sick? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at Bullard Animal Hospital today.