8 Common Cat Diseases: Signs & Treatment

8 Common Diseases in Cats That Every Cat Owner Must Know

Cats are beautiful animals that many people have fallen in love with and choose to have as pets. They are small and easy to look after and are most famous for their aloof personalities and graceful demeanour. As with any pet, it is important to see to their needs to ensure that they are in the best of health to be able to get the best out of the relationship.

8 Most Common Cat Diseases and Infections

Here are some cat illnesses that every cat owner must know about:

1. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

This slow-acting virus weakens the immune system over time, so the symptoms of this disease do not show up until years after it was initially contracted.


  • Dishevelled coat
  • Weight loss
  • Poor appetite
  • Anaemia
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Inflammation in eyes, mouth and gums
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Sneezing
  • Urinating outside the litter box or frequent urination
  • Skin problems like redness or hair loss


A healthy diet will be recommended so that your cat stays at the peak of health and have relevant medication for the secondary infections that occur. Electrolyte or fluid replacement therapy, parasite control, anti-inflammatory drugs and drugs that enhance immunity are some of the treatments available for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.

2. Feline Rabies

Angry Cat

Rabies is a central nervous system that transfers through the bite of the infected. There are three stages of development that it goes through, prodromal, furious and paralytic. After getting bit, symptoms will take about twelve weeks to show.


  • Increased yowling
  • Poor coordination
  • Excessive drooling
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Strange behaviour like eating stones or fighting imaginary foes
  • Unusual irritability
  • Cat Vomiting
  • Fever
  • Weight loss
  • Depression
  • Lack of appetite
  • Deep breathing or respiratory failure


There is no treatment available for this feline rabies and the only way to prevent it is to ensure that your cat has been given anti-rabies vaccines.

3. Feline Panleukopenia

feline distemper disease in cats

Also known as feline distemper, this viral disease is extremely contagious amongst cats and works by killing off all the defence systems of the body.


  • Dehydration
  • Diarrhea
  • High fever
  • Rough fur coat
  • Anemia
  • Loss of appetite
  • Neurological symptoms
  • Depression


Fluid treatment, antibiotics, B-Vitamins and anti-nausea medications are used to treat cats suffering from this disease.

4. Feline Herpes Virus

Also known as Feline viral rhinotracheitis virus, this virus is one of the main cat disorders responsible for developing upper body congestion.


  • Cat eye diseases like conjunctivitis
  • Attacks of sneezing
  • Ulcers in the eyes
  • Lesions around the eyes, even appearing in the eyes
  • Discharge from the eyes and nose
  • Congestion
  • Loss of appetite
  • Fever
  • Lethargy
  • Squinting
  • Drooling
  • Depression


Oral antibiotics and antiviral medications are prescribed by vets to help treat any of the symptoms that your cat shows. Ointments or drops may also be prescribed to help relieve your cat of the uncomfortable eye problems that occur.

5. Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper Respiratory Infections in cat

Often, this term is used to describe a number of problems that cause the same type of symptoms in your cat, that is, those that affect the throat and nose of the cat. Upper Respiratory Infections are a very common affliction in kittens and is highly contagious.


  • Nasal discharge
  • Fever
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Coughing
  • Rapid breathing
  • Drooling
  • Gagging
  • Runny eyes
  • Loss of appetite
  • Hoarse voice
  • Sores in the nose and mouth


Managing the symptoms of this disease is focused on, and ointments or drops for the eyes are often prescribed. While this disease is caused by a virus, antibiotics are also prescribed as bacterial infections are often a secondary infection that occurs along with it. If your cat is not eating or drinking, he may need to be kept at the vets and given drips.

6. Renal Failure

Renal failure in cats usually refers to kidney problems that your cat may face. With age, your cat’s kidneys may begin to fail, though there are some kittens who may even be born with this problem. If this disease is caught in the early stages, it is treatable, but once the disease progresses, treatment becomes harder.


  • Frequent urination or urinating outside the litter box
  • A lot of water consumption
  • Weight loss
  • Infections by bacteria in the kidneys and bladder
  • Vomiting and bloody or cloudy urine
  • Diarrhoea and constipation
  • Indifference to what is happening around
  • Weakness
  • Ulcers in the mouth


Depending on how severe this renal failure is, your vet will suggest the appropriate treatments for your cat. These can include IV treatments and specialised diets to surgeries to remove any blockages that may be present. Cats with this problem will benefit greatly from a diet that is rich in Omega 3 Fatty Acids and Vitamin D.

7. Feline Leukaemia Virus

Feline Leukaemia Virus

This infectious disease is seen as one of the most important when it comes to cat diseases across the world. It often manifests itself through anaemia, immunosuppression and malignancies in cats and, apart from trauma, is the leading killer of cats as it causes them to become prone to other deadly illnesses as well.


  • Yellow colour in the white of the eyes and mouth
  • Pale gums
  • Upper respiratory problems
  • Cat skin diseases
  • Weakness and lethargy that progresses slowly
  • Breathing problems
  • Fever
  • Diarrhoea
  • Stomatitis, a gum disease
  • Loss of appetite and weight loss
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Unspayed female cats will have problems with fertility


There is no treatment that helps to get rid of the disease itself, so the secondary infections that may arise as a result of this disease are often treated.

8. Heartworm

This problem is caused by the parasitic roundworm that we know as the heartworm. The severity of the condition really depends on how many heartworms have infested your cat and how the cat responds to it. This spreads through the bite of mosquitoes that are carrying the larvae of heartworms.


  • Laboured breathing
  • Coughing
  • Vomiting
  • Respiratory problems
  • Irregular heart rhythm


Prevention is easier than cure in this case, and the treatment for heartworms is a long and painful one. Keeping your cat healthy through the right diet, play and other environmental factors such as ensuring that there is no room for mosquitoes to breed near where your cat stays. Sometimes, if the infestation is very severe, your vet may decide to opt for surgical removal of the same. Medications to help kill the adult worms and the offspring will also be given.

Though these diseases may leave you worried, ensure that your cat is fed the best diet and is taken care of very well. Take your kitten for regular check-ups at the vet, and you will not have anything to worry about.


1. The Most Common Diseases & Infections in Cats; Animals Matter to Me; https://www.amtmindia.org/the-most-common-diseases-infections-in-cats/?psafe_param=1&gclid=Cj0KCQjwtsCgBhDEARIsAE7RYh3xiSwMFgtyte2JOfoJTEaUlxDrk2IGGYmC9HzrZhkvJVyThUINyIEaAuGGEALw_wcB; August 2022

2. Common Cat Diseases; ASPCA; https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-diseases

3. Jim Scott; 24 COMMON CAT DISEASES & HEALTH PROBLEMS [PLUS SYMPTOM GUIDE]; Rawz; https://rawznaturalpetfood.com/common-cat-diseases/

4. 5 Common Cat Illnesses and What You Need to Know; Drake Center; https://www.thedrakecenter.com/services/cats/blog/5-common-cat-illnesses-and-what-you-need-know

Also Read:

Homemade Foods Ideas for Cat
Ways to Maintain Hygiene With a Pet in House
Essential Training Tricks to Teach Your Cats

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