Diseases that Affect Cats
As a cat parent, it’s critical to identify the signs and symptoms of common ailments so that you may seek medical assistance for your feline companion as soon as possible. Continue reading to learn about illnesses and other medical conditions that commonly affect cats.
Cancer is a group of disorders in which cells grow out of control, invade nearby tissue, and spread to other parts of the body. Cats, like people, can get numerous types of cancer. The disease might be localized (limited to a single region, such as a tumor) or generalized (affecting several areas) (spread throughout the body).
Cancer is a “multifactorial” illness, which means that no one cause has been identified. However, we do know that cancer in cats can be caused by both inherited and environmental causes.
- Squamous cell carcinoma of the ear, eyelid, or nose is a kind of skin cancer that develops as a result of prolonged sun exposure. Squamous cell carcinoma is more common in white or light-colored cats.
- Lymphosarcoma, often known as lymphoma, is one of the most prevalent cancers in cats. According to some statistics, LSA is responsible for 30% of all recorded cat malignancies. Except for the gastrointestinal (GI) type of LSA, the feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is associated to most forms of LSA. FeLV is a retrovirus that can be transmitted in utero, through saliva, and through direct contact. Because the virus is mostly a disease of younger cats and does not usually show symptoms, it is critical to have your cat tested on a frequent basis to minimize transmission and development .FeLV vaccination is available, which your veterinarian may discuss with you depending on your cat’s lifestyle and risk of FeLV exposure.
The most prevalent type of LSA is GI, which can result in a big mass in the stomach or intestine, as well as widespread infiltration throughout the intestinal system.
If you see any signs of sickness in your cat, you should immediately contact your veterinarian. Although LSA is incurable, most cats react favorably to therapy.
Symptoms of Cancer
Cancer in cats can manifest itself in a variety of ways, including:
- Dumplings (which are not always malignant, but are always worth having a veterinarian examine)
- Sores or infections on the skin that don’t go away
- Discharge from any region of the body that is abnormal Bad breath
- Listlessness, lethargy, or other significant behavioural changes
- Loss of weight
- Lameness that appears unexpectedly
- Vomiting or diarrhoea
- Patches of scaly and/or red skin
- Appetite loss or reduction
- Breathing, urinating, or defecating difficulties
- Behavioral shifts
Cancer in Cats: Diagnosis
- If a lump is found, the initial step is usually a needle biopsy, which involves removing a tiny sample of tissue for microscopic cell inspection. Alternatively, surgery to remove all or part of the lump for pathological diagnosis may be undertaken.
- Radiographs, ultrasounds, blood tests, and other diagnostic procedures may be used to determine whether cancer is present or has spread.
- Cancer may affect cats of all ages and breeds, although it is considerably more prevalent in the elderly.
- Specific malignancies are more common in certain breeds, although skin cancer is more common in cats with white ears and heads.
- Consult your veterinarian to see if your cat falls into any of the at-risk categories.
Diabetes is a complicated condition in cats that is caused by a shortage of the hormone insulin or an insufficient response to insulin. After a cat eats, her digestive system breaks down the food into several components, including glucose, which insulin transports into her cells. When a cat’s body doesn’t create enough insulin or can’t use it properly, her blood sugar levels rise. Hyperglycemia is the outcome, and if left untreated, it can cause a cat’s health to deteriorate significantly.
It’s essential to remember that diabetes is a treatable condition, and many diabetic cats may live happy, healthy lives. Some people may even experience remission!
Diabetes is divided into three types:
- Type 1(lack of insulin production)
- Type 2 – (impaired insulin production along with an inadequate response to the hormone).
Type II diabetes in cats can advance to type I diabetes. In fact, most cats with diabetes are diagnosed with type I diabetes by the time they are diagnosed. Insulin treatment is required for the survival of these animals. Other types of treatment may help cats with type II illness.Symptoms of Diabetes in Cats
The following are symptoms of diabetes in cats:
- Appetite changes (either increased or decreased)
- Loss of weight
- Increased water consumption due to excessive thirst
- Urination is becoming more frequent.
- Urinating outside of the litter box
- Breath that smells unusually sweet
- Coat of unruly hair
- Infection of the urinary tract
Diabetes has a number of causes.
Diabetes is caused by a variety of factors that are unclear. This issue can be caused by genetics, pancreatic disease, certain drugs, and aberrant protein deposits in the pancreas.
Obesity, gender (male cats are more usually affected than female cats), and age appear to be the most critical variables in the development of diabetes.
Your veterinarian will gather information concerning clinical indicators, do a physical examination, and run blood tests and urine to appropriately diagnose diabetes.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus that affects cats (FIV)
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infected cats may not develop symptoms for years after the first infection. Although the virus is slow-acting, once the sickness has taken root, a cat’s immune system is severely compromised. As a result, the cat is vulnerable to a variety of secondary illnesses. Infected cats that are given supportive medical treatment and are housed in a stress-free, indoor environment might have relatively pleasant lives for months or years before the disease progresses to its chronic phases.
For years, a FIV-infected cat may not show any symptoms. However, if symptoms appear, they may last for years, or a cat may display signs of illness mixed with periods of good health. Please have your cat evaluated by your veterinarian if any of the following symptoms appear:
- Lymph nodes that have grown in size
- Fever \anemia
- Loss of weight
- Poor appetite and a disheveled coat
- The look of the eye is abnormal, or the eye is inflamed (conjunctivitis)
- Gum inflammation is a condition in which the gums become inflamed (gingivitis)
- Mouth inflammation is a condition that occurs when the mouth is inflamed (stomatitis)
- Infection of the teeth
- Hair loss or redness of the skin
- Wounds that refuse to heal
- Excessive discharge from the eyes or nose
- Urination problems include frequent urination, straining to pee, and urinating outside of the litter box.
- Changes in behavior
Transmission of the FIV virus
- FIV is mostly transmitted from cat to cat through severe bite wounds, which are common outside during fierce fights and territorial disputes—an excellent reason to keep your cat indoors.
- An FIV-infected mother cat to her kitten is a less prevalent method of transmission. Sharing food bowls and litter boxes, social grooming, sneezing, and other casual modes of interaction do not appear to be prevalent ways for FIV to spread.
- Although any feline is vulnerable, the illness is most commonly contracted by free-roaming, outdoor intact male cats who fight. Indoor cats are the least prone to become sick.
The Feline Leukemia Virus is a virus that causes leukemia in cats (FelV)
Feline leukemia virus is a transmissible RNA retrovirus that may severely impair a cat’s immune system. It was first found in the 1960s. It is one of the most often diagnosed diseases and causes of mortality in domestic cats. FeLV should be tested on each new cat joining a family, as well as any ill cat, because the virus doesn’t often show signs straight away.
FeLV impairs a cat’s immune system, making them more susceptible to infections and ailments including anemia, renal disease, and lymphosarcoma, a cancer of the lymphatic system that is extremely aggressive and deadly.
The virus is especially dangerous to kittens and cats under the age of one year. Cats that live with an infected cat, who are permitted outside where they can be bitten by an infected cat, and kittens born to a FeLV-positive mother are the most vulnerable to infection.
- Many physiological fluids, including saliva, nasal secretions, urine, faces, and blood, shed the FeLV virus.
- Direct contact, reciprocal grooming, and sharing litter boxes, food, and water bowls are the most typical ways for FeLV to spread.
- It can also be transferred from mother to child by way of the mother’s milk
- Bite and scratch wounds from infected outdoor cats fighting with other cats can spread the illness.
FeLV-vaccinated cats above three months of age are extremely unlikely to catch the virus from another cat.
Cats might be infected without showing any symptoms. Others may show signs of:
- Appetite loss and weight loss
- Gums that are pale or irritated
- Coat in poor condition
- Infections of the upper respiratory tract
- Vomiting and diarrheic
- Behavioral changes Vision or other ocular disorders
- Lymph nodes that have grown in size
- Problems with reproduction (in females)
- Skin illness that lasts a long time
- Lethargy Respiratory distress
Heartworm, which is spread by infected mosquitoes, is becoming more well recognized as the underlying cause of health issues in domestic cats. Cats are an unusual heartworm host. Despite its name, heartworm predominantly affects cats’ lungs. It’s a major worry for any cat owner who lives in a mosquito-infested region, and prevention should be explored with a veterinarian.
Heartworm Disease: Causes and Symptoms
Dirofilarial larvae are delivered into the circulation when a mosquito carrying the heartworm parasite bites a cat. The larvae move for four to six months toward the heart, developing along the way, before settling in the heart, pulmonary arteries, and blood vessels of the lungs. Many worms die because a domestic cat is not a natural host for the heartworm parasite. In an infected cat, they, coupled with the active worms, trigger significant inflammatory and immunological reactions.
The symptoms listed below may suggest that your cat is infected:
- Cough that does not go away
- Having trouble breathing (panting, wheezing, rapid or open-mouthed breathing)
- Appetite loss.
- Loss of weight
- Vomiting sporadic
- Unexpected death
Breathing problems in the early stages of heartworm illness, which are caused by worms that have just arrived in the heart and lungs, were most likely misdiagnosed as feline asthma or bronchitis. These breathing issues, however, are now suspected to be caused by a condition known as heartworm-associated respiratory illness (HARD).
Syndrome of the High-Rise
During the summer, many pet parents enthusiastically open their windows to enjoy the weather. Unscreened windows, on the other hand, are a significant threat to cats, who fall out of them so frequently that the veterinary community has coined the term “High-Rise Syndrome.” Shattered jaws, punctured lungs, fractured limbs and pelvises—and even death—are all possible outcomes of falls.
- Cats have strong survival instincts, and they don’t “leap” from dangerously high locations on purpose.
- The majority of cats fall out of high-rise windows, terraces, or fire escapes by mistake.
- Cats have a remarkable capacity to concentrate their attention on whatever piques their interest.
- A distraction such as a bird or other animal might lead them to lose their balance and fall.
- Cats have a low fear of heights and love perching in high areas, so their owners generally feel they can look after themselves.
- Although cats can use their claws to cling to tree bark, other surfaces, such as window sills, concrete, or brick surfaces, are far more challenging.
- Cats do not land firmly on their feet when they fall from great heights. Instead, they fall with their feet slightly spread out, potentially injuring their head and pelvis.
- Cats will not be damaged if they fall from one- or two-story structures, contrary to popular belief. They may be more vulnerable to harm while falling short distances than when falling from a mid-range or higher height. They don’t have enough time to alter their body position to fall appropriately across shorter distances.
- When cats fall from high-rise buildings, they may land themselves on perilous and unfamiliar sidewalks or streets. Never presume that the animal will not survive the fall; take it to the nearest animal hospital or your veterinarian right away.
- If cats that are high-rise victims receive timely and competent medical assistance, they have a 90% chance of survival.
High-Rise Syndrome Prevention
Take the following precautions to keep your cat safe this summer:
- All of your windows should have tight and robust screens installed.
- If you have adjustable screens, ensure sure they’re jammed securely into the window frames.
- It’s worth noting that cats can get past childproof window guards, which aren’t effective security!
Intestinal parasites, including several that are frequently referred to as “worms,” can be acquired by cats. Intestinal worm infestations can result in a range of symptoms. In certain cases, cats show little to no indications of illness, and the infestation might go undiagnosed despite the fact that it is a potentially major health issue. Some feline parasitic worms are also dangerous to humans.
Worms in Cats: Common Types
Worms are common in outdoor cats and those that are regularly exposed to dirt where other animals defecate. Internal parasites are more likely to cause issues in kittens and cats that do not receive regular preventative health treatment.
- In cats, roundworms are the most frequent internal parasite. Adult worms are three to four inches long and resemble spaghetti. Cats can become infected in a variety of ways. Adult cats can catch roundworms by consuming eggs from an infected cat’s excrement, while nursing kittens can get them via an infected mother’s milk.
- Hookworms are significantly smaller than roundworms, measuring less than an inch in length and mostly inhabiting the small intestine. Hookworms, which feed on the blood of an animal, can cause life-threatening anemia, especially in kittens. Hookworm eggs are passed in the faces and develop into larvae, and a cat can become sick by ingesting them or coming into touch with them on their skin.
- Tapeworms are segmented parasitic worms that range in length from 4 to 28 inches. Vomiting and weight loss are common symptoms of an infestation. Tapeworms are transmitted to cats by an intermediary host, such as an infected flea or rodent. Tapeworm segments—actual portions of the worm that resemble rice grains—can sometimes be spotted on the fur near a cat’s rear end when it is sick.
- Lungworms can be found in a cat’s lungs. The majority of cats will exhibit no indications of lungworms, although some may develop a cough. Snails and slugs are common intermediate hosts for this parasite, although cats often become infected by eating a bird or rodent that has consumed an intermediate host.
- Though the methods of transmission vary, one of the most common ways for cats to get worms is by ingestion of infected feline excrement. Mother cats can potentially infect their kittens with worms.
- To minimize exposure to diseased cats, rats, fleas, and excrement, keep your cat indoors.
- Ensure that your home, yard, and pets are clear of fleas.
- When changing cat litter or handling excrement, practice excellent hygiene and use gloves. It’s also critical to dispose of faces on a regular basis.
- Inquire with your veterinarian about an internal parasite treatment or prevention program for your cat.
Worms in Cats Symptoms
Symptoms vary based on the parasite and the area of infection, but these are some of the more prevalent ones:
- Worms in the faces or worm segments near the anus
- Bloody faces
- Abdominal bloating or a bloated, potbellied look
- Loss of weight
- Breathing problems
If you suspect your cat is infected with worms, you should take her to a veterinarian who can confirm the existence of worms. Self-diagnosis should be avoided because worms are not always visible or recognized.
Please don’t try to treat your cat yourself; he has to be treated for the sort of worms he has.
- Not all dewormers are effective against all types of worms. Your veterinarian will diagnose the sort of worm infestation(s) that your cat has and provide the best treatment options.
- Your veterinarian will be able to advise you whether and when the dewormer should be given again.
- Some canine medicines are not suitable for cats.
- When administered incorrectly, several over-the-counter deworming drugs might be hazardous.
Worm Transmission from Cats to Humans
Where cats defecate, a high number of roundworm eggs can gather. People who eat such eggs, especially youngsters, might acquire major health problems like blindness, encephalitis, and organ damage. Surgical excision of roundworms may be required to treat blindness induced by them.
Hookworm larvae can cause skin sores when they enter human skin. Tapeworms can be acquired by the swallowing of an infected flea, although this is uncommon.