Symptoms of Common Cat Ailments

Learn the most common cat ailments. Find out information on typical symptoms, possible causes and treatment options.

Parasites Lead to Common Cat Ailments

Fleas and worms often affect a cat's health. Fleas pose a larger risk because they frequently carry tapeworm larvae. If a cat ingests a flea while grooming itself, tapeworm becomes a serious risk for malnutrition and anemia. Kittens infested with fleas have a higher risk of becoming anemic than adult cats.

Fleas are easy to spot, most cats scratch themselves excessively. Check in the fur for the black droppings. Fleas tend to hang out in warm areas like leg joints and the abdomen. Topical flea preventatives and flea baths generally end the life cycle of these parasites.

Worms are often harder to pinpoint. Unless you physically see the worms or parts of the worms in the cat's feces, you'll need your veterinarian to put a sample of feces under the microscope. Dewormers will take care of most parasitic worms. Heartworms require a little more testing and treatment.

Feline Diabetes

Feline diabetes is becoming a prevalent disease in cats, especially those fed foods high in carbohydrates. Diabetes occurs when the cat's body becomes unable to regulate the levels of glucose within the blood. Symptoms include:

  • Excessive thirst

  • Frequent urination

  • Loss of appetite

  • Weight loss

Cats with diabetes often require insulin injections and blood sugar monitoring to make sure the cat's sugar levels are stabilized. In addition, cats will require dietary changes and should lose excess weight.

Urinary Tract Infection Cat Ailments

High carb diets increase the risk of crystals in the cat's urine. These crystals cause blockages that can lead to bladder or kidney infections.

Symptoms of urinary disease include frequent urination with little urine coming out, blood tinged urine, peeing in areas other than the litter box and lack of appetite. Many cats seek out cool tile floors, bathtubs or sinks when they have urinary tract infections.

Changing a cat's diet from dried kibble to canned food can help alleviate any problems. It's also important to make sure your cat is drinking plenty of water. A Drinkwell Fountain often encourages cats to drink because they like the flowing water. Cranberry capsules or cat food containing cranberry can help keep bacteria from building up in the bladder.

If the infection is severe, your cat will be hospitalized. IV fluids will help with dehydration and antibiotics are administered to battle the infection. A catheter is inserted to drain urine from the bladder. Crystals often combine forming small pebbles. If bladder stones are present, the catheter may help remove smaller ones. Surgery may be required for larger stones.

Cat Ailments Involving the Thyroid

Many cats suffer from an overactive thyroid. The thyroid may be functioning improperly due to a tumor, usually benign.

Symptoms of hyperthyroidism include:

  • Diarrhea

  • Excessive appetite

  • Excessive thirst

  • Lethargy

  • Nausea/vomiting

  • Weight loss

Treatment plans include surgery to remove any tumor, thyroid medications or radioiodine treatments.

Inflammatory Bowel Disease

IBD is extremely common in cats. If it is present, many cats have diarrhea, defecate outside their litter box and suffer from lack of appetite, vomiting and nausea.

Vets will perform tests to make sure there are not underlying cat ailments. Otherwise, changes to the cat's diet often end the problem.