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Common Cat Illnesses & Symptoms

These cat illnesses may be common, but they can also put your cat’s long-term physical health and wellbeing at risk - and even be fatal if not diagnosed and treated early. To help you avoid surprises and keep your cat healthy, our Greensboro vets explain symptoms of common illnesses.


Common Cat Illnesses

Because cats tend to isolate out of instinct when they are sick, their humans have to be extra observant and on the lookout for any signs they are sick. These are some of the most common illnesses we see in cats.

Diabetes

If your furry friend’s body isn’t producing enough insulin to balance blood sugar or glucose levels, they will develop diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, the disease can cause several serious symptoms, including:

  • Motor function problems
  • Increased appetite (since the energy in food isn’t being used properly) or loss of appetite
  • Dehydration
  • Increased urination
  • Thirst
  • Vomiting
  • Coma
  • Death

Poorly controlled diabetes can lead to several potential long-term health problems such as nerve disorders. It can also drastically reduce a cat’s lifespan and severe emergency situations can occur. Treatment usually focuses on management and can include insulin injections.

Heartworm

Heartworm (also known as dirofilaria) is a blood-borne parasitic roundworm that spreads through mosquitoes, which can carry cat heartworm larvae. Indoor and outdoor cats are almost equally likely to catch this parasite that’s on the rise in America (although it’s less prevalent in cats than in dogs). Fortunately, your cat can be vaccinated against heartworm - it’s one of the key vaccines we offer.

Though heartworm has no definitive clinical signs, symptoms to watch for include:

  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Blindness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fluid in the lungs
  • Convulsions
  • Sudden death

Help your cat avoid heartworm by having them vaccinated as a preventive measure. 

Cancer

In cats, an uncontrolled growth of cells can cause cancer, which can impact many organs and cells in the body. The disease starts to develop within a cell before attaching to tissue beneath the skin, and potentially spreading to other areas.

Cats can also be vaccinated against Feline Leukemia Virus, which is a common contributor to cancer in our four-legged friends. Other causes include environmental toxins. If caught during a physical exam, your veterinarian may be able to treat the cancer.

Symptoms can include:

  • Odor originating in the mouth
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Bumps or lumps that change in size or shape
  • Marked decrease or increase in appetite
  • Difficulty defecating or urinating

Depending on numerous factors, such as the location of the cancer, the type of cancer and its extent, whether the tumor is detected and diagnosed early, whether your veterinarian can develop an effective treatment plan, and other factors, a number of treatments such as radiation, chemotherapy and surgery may be appropriate.

What to Do If Your Cat is Ill

If any of the symptoms listed above appear in your cat, it’s critical that they see a vet as soon as possible. At Guilford-Jamestown Veterinary Hospital in ___ , we have an in-house laboratory and pharmacy, and are ready to handle emergencies and provide the care your pet needs.

When your cat is sick, every minute counts. Having them treated right away could reduce recovery time, decrease pain and even save their life.

When to Visit an Emergency Vet

Veterinary emergencies require immediate care. If your cat is exhibiting any of these symptoms, it’s critical that they see an emergency veterinarian:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Seizures or staggering
  • Choking, difficulty breathing or continual coughing or gagging
  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting (2 or more episodes in 24 hours)
  • Unconsciousness

There are several more indications of an emergency each cat owner should be aware of.

How to Prevent Common Cat Illnesses

A clean, happy and low-stress home with plenty of fresh water to drink is a great foundation - and a necessity - for your cat’s long-term health.

A routine checkup with one of our feline-friendly Greensboro veterinarians, coupled with preventive care, also goes a long way to helping your feline friend stay healthy. Nutritious diet, exercise and regular vaccinations are other must-haves for a purr-fect, content life.

Do you suspect your cat is sick? Our veterinarians can diagnose diseases and conditions and plan treatments. Book an appointment today.

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