Upper respiratory infections (URIs)
- Though URIs are similar to the human common cold, the infection can be much more serious in a feline. A URI can be fatal if left untreated. An airborne virus, a URI can be transmitted to cats through human handling or contact with other cats, as well as litter boxes, food bowls and grooming tools. Take your cat to the vet if you notice sneezing, runny nose and eyes, or fever and decreased appetite. Having your cat vaccinated is the best prevention of a URI.
- This is commonly known as feline distemper. It's highly contagious through contact with humans, infected cats or things those with the disease have touched. Symptoms include vomiting, loss of appetite and diarrhea. The virus invades cells of the digestive system, bone marrow, lymph tissue and developing nervous system. Vets offer vaccinations for this virus as well.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
- A fatal infectious virus, FeLV affects the cat's immune system. It is transmitted through saliva, urine and feces of infected felines.
There are different symptoms for each of the three types of feline leukemia. Chest symptoms may be enlarged lymph nodes, fluid accumulation in the chest, difficulty breathing, coughing and gagging. Symptoms of abdominal leukemia include decrease in appetite, depression, weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea or constipation. In a case of multicentric leukemia, symptoms are enlarged lymph nodes and the formation of tumors on organs.
A blood test can determine if your cat is carrying the virus. There is no cure once contracted, but there are vaccines for its prevention.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
- FIV is similar to the human HIV (though cannot be passed to a human) and attacks the immune system. Symptoms include chronic, non-responding infections, appetite loss, persistent diarrhea, respiratory difficulty and severe oral infections. FIV is passed between cats primarily through bites. Vaccinations are available for FIV.
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)
- There are two forms of FIP. "Wet" involves fluid on the abdomen, and "dry" does not. Symptoms for both include loss of appetite, weight loss, depression, rough hair and fever. The symptoms can appear suddenly, and once noticed, there is an increase in severity, ending in death.
Protecting your cat
- Many of these diseases can be prevented by keeping your cat indoors and following your veterinarian's vaccination schedule.