The 3 Most Fatal Feline Health Problems

Feline health problems are often treatable, if not curable. However, there are some health problems that are fatal, because they're too damaging for a cat's body to survive.

1. Feline Leukemia Virus

The feline leukemia virus, or FeLV, is said to be the top infectious disease to kill cats in the United States. FeLV destroys a cat's immune system, causing cancer, anemia or other diseases that can make a cat ill.

FeLV can be prevented with a vaccination a veterinarian can administer.

2. Feline Infectious Peritonitis

A cat can acquire feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, in areas that are moist (such as a garden), as this is where the virus thrives. Cats of all ages are susceptible to FIP.

When a cat contracts FIP, he can experience edema, a buildup of fluid in the chest and abdomen. The cat will begin to lose weight as gastrointestinal symptoms appear, along with liver failure. Kitten behavior, once FIP has invaded the body, will change because of his lack of energy, loss of an appetite and small body shutting down.

Once the FIP virus is in the body and a cat is symptomatic, he can have a few days to a few months to live. Cats can avoid getting FIP with a vaccine and an annual booster shot.

3. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is similar to HIV in humans. There are no vaccines cats can have to prevent this disease, but veterinarians are able to test a cat to see if he carries the virus.

A cat with FIV may not present symptoms for many years after contracting the virus. When a cat is symptomatic he may become anemic, more prone to catch other diseases and could develop cancer.

Preventing Fatal Diseases in Cats

Here are a few tips on how to prevent the spread of fatal diseases among cats. The first is to keep cats indoors. The great outdoors harbors a number of fatal cat diseases.

When bringing a new kitten or an adopted adult cat home, dont let him inside if other cats are already present, unless he has first been tested for FeL, FIP and FIV, and has had vaccines administered. If the cat must be brought indoors before vaccines are given and tests taken, keep him separated from any other cats in the home. Provide the new cat with his own litter box, food dish and water bowl.

Always wash your hands after petting an unfamiliar cat or a pet that hasn't been tested or vaccinated against fatal health problems.

A cat that's infected with any of the diseases mentioned will eventually have a hard time grooming himself. Cat medical grooming services are available at many veterinary clinics. Trained technicians can take care of matted fur, provide special baths, cut fur in appropriate places, trim cat claws and other hygiene services to help a sick cat feel more comfortable.

Fatal health problems in cats can be a devastating ordeal for pet owners. Veterinarians recommend the hardship be prevented with vaccines and common sense practices.