Communicable Cat Diseases

Communicable cat diseases are those that can be spread to other cats. The spread of many communicable diseases can be prevented with vaccinations. If your cat contracts one, keep him away from other cats until he has healed, and wash your hands thoroughly before handling other cats.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is a contagious virus similar to canine parvovirus. Many cats can be carriers and asymptomatic, so modes of transmission aren't completely understood. Symptoms can be flu-like in nature or include jaundice, anemia, enlarged lymph nodes, conjunctivitis, eye ulcers, weight loss, fever and neurological impairment.

FIP viruses can survive for up to three weeks on various surfaces in your house or be transported on your clothing. If you're in contact with a FIP-positive cat, wash your hands and clothing in hot water before coming in contact with healthy cats. There is a vaccination available, but veterinarians debate its effectiveness.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is an immune-deficiency disorder like human HIV. Because it affects the immune system, the biggest risk of FIV is the susceptibility to all other diseases, which can lead to death.

Cats usually contract the disease through bite wounds from an infected cat, and symptoms include fever, depression and symptoms of other diseases contracted when the immune system is weakened. It's important to keep infected cats away from all other cats to prevent spread of FIV and other diseases that could make the infected cat sick.

Feline Panleukopenia

Feline panleukopenia is similar to distemper in dogs, which means it is very contagious, especially to young kittens. It's often spread in areas like kennels or boarding facilities where there are many cats in a confined space. It can be spread at common food and water dishes, through litter boxes and even by human handlers.

Symptoms consist of fever, diarrhea, vomiting, loss of appetite and an unusual posture, which appears hunched over. Feline panleukopenia can easily be prevented with an annual vaccination, especially before boarding your pet.

Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) can be contracted through saliva, blood, mucus, urine or feces and is one of the leading causes of death in cats, because it suppresses the immune system like FIV. Some cats are asymptomatic while the disease lives in the bone marrow. It is often discovered because the cat contracts another illness or type of cancer, because of a weakened immune system.

Feline Herpes Virus

Feline herpes virus is a respiratory disease that exhibits symptoms similar to a cold, such as runny nose, sneezing, diarrhea, vomiting and fever. It is spread through contact with an infected cat, and infected cats should be kept in isolation until the disease runs its course.

Feline Calcivirus

Feline calcivirus is a respiratory disease with symptoms similar to feline herpes, such as fever, runny nose, sneezing and diarrhea, and more serious symptoms such as gum disease, joint pain and oral ulcers. Cats should be isolated from other cats after symptoms disappear, because they can continue to transmit the virus even after the symptoms have dissipated.

Feline Bartonella

Bartonella is a respiratory disease in cats that can cause nasal and eye discharge, difficulty breathing and enlarged lymph nodes on the body that can burst and cause severe pain and itching. Bartonella can be easily treated with antibiotics, but it's best to keep cats isolated until the symptoms are gone.