Common Cat Ailments

There are several common cat ailments that you may encounter during the life of your cat. An ailment is usually associated with one specific system in the cat's body although symptoms may appear in different areas. With most of these ailments, you can greatly reduce the likelihood that your cat will become afflicted with vaccinations, healthy lifestyle habits and regular veterinary check-ups.

The FELV Virus

This virus causes different forms of anemia, cancer or feline leukemia. It's only contagious within the cat species and is spread through contact with the saliva, tears or urine of an infected cat. A vet will notice cellular abnormalities in the blood, a mild fever and swollen lymph nodes. You'll notice any number of possible symptoms including blood in the stool, chronic and recurring infections, excessive drinking and urination, decreased strength and appetite, diarrhea, weight loss or jaundice in the whites of the eyes and body fluids.


FIV affects the entire immune system and is sometimes known as feline AIDS as a result. A cat with FIV can develop any number of infections but is less able to fight an infection than a healthy cat.

Feline Calicivirus, Feline Herpesvirus (FVR) and Chlamydophila

These are common viruses that attack a cat's upper respiratory systems including the eyes, mouth, and nose. Symptoms vary from discharge, inflammation, ulcers and swelling. The discharge may have an unpleasant odor and may have a yellowish or mucus-like appearance.

Bordetella and Mycoplasma

These are viruses that affect the lower airways such as the lungs and trachea. A cat with one of these viruses, may make a raspy sound when meowing or may have trouble breathing.


This is a very common virus, attacking the cat's digestive system. You'll most likely notice severe vomiting and diarrhea if your cat is infected.

Cat Cold

Cats can catch a number of different viruses that mimic a cold. These are usually spread between cats in close quarters such as a kennel or airplane. The symptoms include sneezing, discharge from the nose or eyes, and in more severe cases pneumonia symptoms such as coughing and trouble breathing. The two viruses are FHV and FCV and are the most dangerous for kittens.

Urinary Tract Problems

Cats can develop a number of problems in the urinary tract and bladder. These ailments range from infection to blockage which is a life-threatening condition. Watch for blood in the urine, straining at the litter box, making frequent trips to the litter box without much production of urine, and eliminating in the wrong places in the house.