Common Cat Health Problems - Management & Treatments

It's important for cat owners to be aware of the most common health problems their feline friends may experience. By knowing what to watch for, pet owners can get their cat the treatment it needs before things get worse. If you're familiar with prevention methods, you can also improve your cat's chances of avoiding common health issues altogether.

In this article, we discuss some of the most common health problems cats experience, including their symptoms and treatments. We also discuss preventative care, like pre and probiotic formulas and joint supplements.

What Are Some Signs of Illness in Cats?

Signs of illness aren't always apparent in cats. In fact, cats are masters at hiding their ailments. However, there are some signs cat owners can look for that suggest a sick cat.

Common symptoms of a sick cat include:

  • Lethargy

  • Loss of appetite or changes in water intake

  • Weight loss

  • Vomiting

  • Diarrhoea

  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

  • Discharge from the nose or eyes

  • Hair loss or poor coat condition

  • Lumps or tumours

  • Decreased sociability or irritability

  • Shifts in day-to-day behaviour, including different litter box usage

  • Indications of distress, such as insistent meowing

When a cat exhibits any signs of illness, it's vital to get a veterinarian involved, even if the changes seem minor. Everyday issues like vomiting or diarrhoea can be dangerous for a cat, as they can lead to dehydration. They may also indicate an underlying health condition with serious ramifications.

 

a sick kitten in a blanket

What Are the Most Common Feline Conditions?

While cats can suffer from a multitude of health problems, some are more common than others. Below are a few of the ailments typically seen in cats.

  • Upper Respiratory Infections:
  • Upper respiratory infections are one of the top health issues cats experience.
  • Upper respiratory infections are caused by viruses or bacteria and may generate multiple symptoms, including a runny nose, respiratory distress, watery eyes, sneezing and fever. 

 

Antibiotics may be prescribed for bacterial infections, while viral infections will generally resolve on their own. In the meantime, make your cat more comfortable by using a humidifier and keeping them away from other pets.

 

Diabetes: 

Cats develop diabetes when their pancreas doesn't produce enough insulin or their body can't use insulin properly. Diabetic symptoms in cats include weight loss, increased thirst, urination and appetite. Diabetes is potentially fatal if left untreated, so owners should take the cat to the vet as soon as possible if they suspect diabetes. 


Many people successfully manage their pet's diabetes with diet modifications and insulin injections, which are given on a regular basis.

Overweight:

Another common feline health problem is being overweight. Cats with obesity are at risk for a number of health problems, including diabetes, joint pain, heart disease and respiratory issues. Obesity is most prevalent among indoor cats. If your cat lives primarily indoors, it's crucial to ensure it is getting enough exercise by providing toys that encourage activity and creating vertical spaces for climbing. A healthy, balanced diet also reduces obesity chances.  

Arthritis:

Arthritis is a common health problem in older cats. This condition is caused by the breakdown of cartilage in the joints, leading to pain and stiffness. Arthritis is a degenerative disease, meaning it will gradually get worse over time. That said, treatments can manage pain and improve quality of life.

Many cat owners use joint supplements that promote cartilage health to prevent and treat arthritis. The vet may also prescribe anti-inflammatory medication.

Vomiting

Cats vomit for many reasons, including hairballs, overeating, eating too fast or simply being sick. However, if a cat is vomiting more than once or twice a week, it's time to see the vet. 

Nausea and vomiting can have numerous origins, such as eating plants, consuming old food, or touching/tasting something off-putting, like insects. Though sometimes nothing more than an inconvenience, vomiting can also signify a severe illness. Vomiting is usually treated with diet changes or medication.

Tapeworms

Tapeworms are parasites that live in the intestines of cats. The parasites are transmitted through contact with fleas or by ingesting prey animals. 

Symptoms of tapeworm infection include vomiting, diarrhoea, bloated belly and worm segments present in the feces. Most cat owners can treat tapeworms quickly and efficiently with medication. Deworming medication is typically administered orally and will kill the tapeworms within a few days.

 

Fleas, Ticks and Mites

These troublesome parasites can cause your cat a lot of irritation, leading to inflammation, itching and other annoyances. Not only do they bite and suck your cat's blood, but they can also transmit diseases. 

 

Many cats also have allergies to parasites, and allergic reactions to their bites can result in painful skin infections. 

 

Ticks

Ticks attach to the skin, often near the head or ears. Pet owners can remove ticks with a pair of tweezers, but it's best to leave this to a professional. If ticks aren't removed appropriately, it raises the risk of infection.

Fleas

Fleas are small, dark-coloured insects that jump from host to host. Fleas can be challenging to spot, especially if your cat doesn't have a full-on infestation, but you may see the cat scratching more than usual. You may also notice "flea dirt" (flea feces) on the cat's coat.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are tiny parasites that live in the ears of cats. They cause discomfort and can lead to deafness if left untreated. Vets usually diagnose ear mites during a routine check-up. They can be treated with ear drops or oral medication.

 

If you think your cat has fleas, ticks or ear mites, seek treatment. Products to treat fleas and other parasites, like powders, sprays and collars, are widely available.

Eye Issues

Your feline friend relies heavily on its vision, so any eye problems should be taken seriously. Cat eye problems range from mild (such as conjunctivitis) to severe (like glaucoma).

If you notice your cat rubbing its eyes or holding them closed more than usual, a trip to the vet is in order. Other signs of eye problems include redness, discharge and squinting.

Cataracts are a common age-related eye problem in cats. This condition occurs when the eye's lens becomes cloudy, resulting in vision problems. Cataracts can eventually cause blindness if not treated. Fortunately, most cataracts can be surgically removed.

Diarrhoea

If your cat has diarrhoea or loose stool, pay attention. Diarrhoea can cause dehydration. It can also be a sign of a more serious underlying disease or infection.

Diarrhoea often occurs for an insignificant reason, like stressful changes in the cat's environment or a diet adjustment, and goes away on its own. But if your cat has diarrhoea for more than a day or two, contact your vet. They will likely recommend tests to determine the cause and prescribe medication if necessary.  

 

Cancer

While most health problems can be managed successfully, some are more serious than others. Cancer, for example, is a leading cause of death in cats. But the good news is that vets can treat most cancers. Early detection is critical to successful treatment, which is why periodic exams are necessary.

 

Surgery, radiation therapy and chemotherapy are all potential treatment options. Many different types of cancer can affect cats, so speak to your vet about the best course of action. 

Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia is a deadly contagious disease passed from cat to cat through close contact. There is no cure for feline leukemia. Therefore, the vaccine is crucial if they're at risk. 

A typical sign of feline leukemia is swollen lymph nodes, usually detected through a physical exam. Other symptoms include fever, weight loss, gum inflammation, and urinary and bladder infections.

Heartworm

A potentially fatal disease, heartworm is caused by parasitic worms in an infected animal's heart and pulmonary arteries. Though most common in dogs, cats can also be affected.

There is no good treatment for heartworm once a cat is infected, so prevention is key. Mosquitoes spread heartworms, so keeping your cat indoors and using mosquito repellent is the easiest prevention method. 

image of worms in a cats heart

Rabies

The rabies virus is a serious concern for pet owners. This fatal disease often causes aggression and drooling and is spread through the saliva of infected animals. It can be passed to humans bitten or scratched by infected animals.

Keeping your cat up-to-date on its vaccinations is the easiest method for protecting it from rabies.

Intestinal Parasites

Dealing with worm infestations in the intestine can be a messy business, but pet owners should get rid of worms as quickly as possible. Intestinal parasites make cats extremely uncomfortable and eventually cause their health to deteriorate. 

Ridding your pet of these creepy crawlers is essential for their health and well-being. Fortunately, ridding a cat of worms is relatively easy. Cat owners have many products at their disposal to treat intestinal parasites, and your vet can help you choose the right one for your cat. 

Kidney Disease

Older cats sometimes suffer from kidney disease, a problematic condition. Kidney disease is caused by the deterioration of the kidney's function due to factors like exposure to toxic plants, chronic dehydration, pesticides and even medications. The function of the kidneys is paramount to the animal's health, so this condition must be diagnosed and treated with urgency.

Some symptoms of kidney disease include increased thirst, bad breath, lethargy, poor hair quality and weight loss. If you notice any of these changes in your cat, kidney disease is a possibility that should be looked into immediately. 

Traumatic Injuries

Cats are curious creatures and often find themselves in situations that lead to injury. From falling out of a tree to getting hit by a car, cats can suffer a variety of traumatic injuries.

If your cat has traumatic injuries, such as bite wounds or broken bones, you should ensure it receives medical care. Traumatic injuries sometimes require X-rays or other tests to determine the extent of the injuries. The pet may also need surgery and/or pain medication.

Dental Problems

Pets need dental care just like humans. Dental problems like gum disease are not only painful, they may cause tooth loss or even organ damage when allowed to advance unchecked. 

Good dental care starts at home. Keep your cat's teeth and gums clean and free of plaque with regular brushing with pet-safe toothpaste. Also, take the pet for professional cleans and check-ups to reduce the risk of gingivitis and tooth loss.

Diagnosing Cat Health Problems

If you suspect your cat doesn't feel well, take the animal to the vet for an exam. After an initial physical exam, tests may be needed. Blood tests, X-rays and ultrasounds are all diagnostic tools that may be used to identify cat health problems. Other tests, such as biopsies and urine analyses, may also be necessary.

The vet will also want to know about the cat's behaviour at home, especially if its behaviour has changed recently. With that in mind, you may want to note down behaviour changes before the vet visit, documenting information about feeding habits, litter box use, grooming, etc. That way, you won't forget any important details.

Treating the Most Common Cat Health Problems

The most suitable treatments for your cat's health problem depend on its ultimate diagnosis. Some conditions can be treated at home, but others require more intensive care.

For example, a cat with a bacterial infection likely needs antibiotics. If the pet has a viral infection, there is no treatment, but you can make the pet more comfortable as it recovers by managing its symptoms. A cat with cancer may need surgery, radiation therapy or chemotherapy. And a wound may require stitches or a spray-on bandage, which is often perfect for protecting wounds in hard-to-reach areas. In-silver's Spray on Bandage can be used on dogs, cattle, horses and other pets.

We don't recommend treating a cat without the assistance or advice of a vet, especially since it's usually tricky to pinpoint the exact problem without testing. Once diagnosed, your vet can work with you to develop a treatment plan that fits your cat's unique needs.

Managing Your Cat's Health In the Long-Term

Pet owners can help their cats remain healthy with routine visits to the vet's clinic. Other ways to facilitate good health include feeding them a nutritious diet, offering plenty of fluids and staying up-to-date on parasite prevention treatments and vaccines. Supplements are another method for keeping cats active and strong. 

Nutraceutical Supplements

Nutraceutical supplements like in-sideout Cat Formula are beneficial for many cats. The holistic formula features a blend of natural ingredients, including pre and probiotics, that support the immune system and enhance health. Pre and probiotics contain beneficial bacteria that improve the gut's function for better digestion, a more robust immune system and increased vitality. The supplements may also decrease instances of flatulence and bad breath while contributing to a healthy, glossy coat. 

View in-sideout Cat Formula

Cats are susceptible to numerous illnesses, but many of the most common disorders can be prevented with careful attention. By providing holistic supplements that deliver pre and probiotics and beyond, such as in-sideout Cat Formula, owners can foster excellent feline health, helping cats live long and happy lives.

Joint Supplements

Joint supplements like infusion msm are designed to sustain feline joints over a lifetime, encouraging healthy cartilage as cats age. MSM is a natural compound said to reduce inflammation. It also aids in the formation of tissue and promotes a good metabolism while boosting the production of natural antioxidants and keratin, a major part of the skin and hair.

 

CLICK TO VIEW in-fusion MSM

 

Another great joint supplement called infusion ha uses hyaluronic acid to lubricate canine and equine joints and maintain cartilage health. With supplements of the naturally occurring acid, a pet or equine companion may have a better chance of staying comfortable and active well into its senior years.

Joint supplements are often recommended when a cat, dog or other pet starts showing signs of osteoarthritis or joint pain.

Frequently Asked Questions About Common Cat Health Problems

Having a sick pet is something no pet owner wants to experience. Below are answers to some frequently asked questions about common cat health problems to help you keep your cat in good shape. 

How Long Do Cats Typically Live?

Cats are considered elderly at around 11 to 12 years old and have an average lifespan of approximately 15 years, although some cats have been known to live into their 20s. Their lifespan ultimately depends on diet, exercise, genetics and overall health.

The oldest known cat was Creme Puff, who lived from 1967 to 2005 and was 38 years old at the time of her death. To extend your pet's life, focus on preventive care and early detection of health problems. Regular check-ups, a nutritious diet and ample exercise give your cat the best chance at a long life.

What Vaccinations Do Cats Need to Stay Healthy?

Cats need a few different vaccinations to stay healthy. These include vaccines for rabies, feline panleukopenia virus (FPV), feline calicivirus (FCV) and feline herpesvirus type-I (FHV-I). Vaccinating your cat will help them avoid these potentially deadly diseases. 

Vaccinations are a critical component of preventative care for cats. Many of the cat diseases vets vaccinate against are highly contagious and have no cure. 

When Should I Be Concerned About My Cat's Symptoms?

If your cat has ongoing symptoms like diarrhoea, vomiting, lethargy or loss of appetite, get it to the vet without delay. These symptoms could indicate a severe health problem, and the sooner it is diagnosed and treated, the better. A pet that is crying when touched or being unusually aggressive could also have a severe issue or injury.

 

Problems with breathing, including potential asthma attacks, and obvious trauma, like broken bones, are also considered emergencies that require a prompt response. Even minor health issues in kittens and senior cats may be urgent since they have more fragile immune systems.

 

In many cases, common health problems and illnesses are easily treated and not a cause for much concern, but it's always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your pets.

What Medical Care Do Cats Need?

In addition to routine vaccinations, cats should see the vet every six months. Most cats also need flea prevention treatments, whether applied at home or in the vet clinic, and some need specialised dental care to prevent gingivitis and other dental issues. A nutritious diet, regular grooming, considerable opportunities for exercise and a clean, safe living area also help keep your cat stress-free and healthy.

Many pet owners purchase pet insurance to reduce the cost of vet bills over a cat's lifetime. As a cat parent, pet health insurance can ensure you're prepared for unexpected medical expenses. Costs can get quite high when treating conditions requiring surgery or lifelong treatment, like hyperthyroidism, cancer, arthritis or pancreatitis. Pet insurance can significantly offset your expenses.

Help Your Cat Enjoy a Long Life

In summary, by taking proper care of cats, you can help them avoid many standard health problems. Keep up with their vaccination and exam schedule, feed them an appropriate diet and provide a variety of toys and cat-friendly surfaces that enable exercise. Also, give cats supplements, like pre and probiotics or joint supplements, to support overall health. 

 

Pet parents concerned about a cat should always consult their vet. The vet can give the most accurate diagnosis and treatment.