A cat owner administers medication to their pet's left eye.

Common Cat Health Problems You Should Know About

There are many different types of cat health problems that can occur. Cat owners are often amazed that their cat can suffer from many of the same problems that we humans get such as diabetes, kidney infections, bladder stones, and various types of cancer. Below we will review some of the most common cat health problems.

Top 26 Cat Health Problems

The most common cat health problems seen at veterinary clinics and veterinary emergency rooms are as follows:

  1. Vomiting – Vomiting, also known as gastritis, is a very common cat health problem. It is the act of ejecting matter from the stomach through the mouth. Vomiting in cats can be caused by many different things such as a viral bug, indiscriminate eating of things such as plants, urinary obstructions, or kidney failure.
  2. Diarrhea – Diarrhea, also known as enteritis, can be caused by viral infections, indiscriminate eating such as plants, a food change, inflammatory bowel disease, and/or cancer just to name a few.
  3. Urinary Tract Infection – Urinary tract infections, also known as cystitis, can occur in cats. What to Do if Your Cat Has a Urinary Tract Infection. What is more common than a urinary tract infection is a disease called feline lower urinary tract disease that is a different problem but can have similar symptoms.
  4. Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease (FLUTD) – This is one of the most common cat health problems affecting more than 1% of all cats. FLUTD, also known as Feline Urologic Syndrome (FUS), Feline Idiopathic Cystitis (FIC), or Painful Bladder Syndrome (PBS), develops due to accumulated inflammatory debris and crystals that can form a plug that obstructs the urethra of male cats. This is a life-threatening medical emergency.
  5. Upper Respiratory Infection – Various types of viruses and/or bacteria can infect the nose, throat and sinus area of cats. It is very contagious and extremely common in strays and outdoor cats. Common symptoms include sneezing and runny eyes.
  6. Conjunctivitis – Inflammation of the conjunctiva is common in cats and generally causes a red, painful and runny eye.
  7. Weight Loss – The loss of weight is a common cat health problem that can develop from any disease on this list including diabetes, cancer, thyroid disease, or kidney failure.
  8. Lethargy – Decreased energy or interest in the surroundings are common signs of a lethargic cat. Many things including organ failure, infections, and cancer can cause lethargy.
  9. Diabetes Mellitus – Diabetes is a disease caused by a deficiency of the hormone insulin or a poor response to insulin. Insulin carries glucose to cells within the body and without insulin, high blood glucose results. Diabetes can cause symptoms such as increased thirst, increased urination, weight loss, vomiting, lethargy, inappropriate urination, infections, and weakness.
  10. Lymphoma – Lymphoma is malignant cancer that involves the lymphoid system. Lymphoid tissue normally is found in many different parts of the body including lymph nodes, liver, spleen, gastrointestinal tract, and skin.
  11. Anorexia/Decreased Appetite – This vague sign is one of the most common reasons cat owners take their cat to the vet. Decreased interest in food is one of the first signs of illness that can be caused by a variety of problems including infections, cancer, or diabetes.
  12. Asthma – Asthma is a lung condition caused by sudden narrowing of the bronchial tubes. Typical symptoms include difficulty breathing, coughing, and/or wheezing.
  13. Inflammatory Bowel Disease – Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a group of gastrointestinal disorders that involve infiltration of the gastrointestinal tract by inflammatory cells (white blood cells). IBD can affect both the upper (stomach and small intestine) and lower (colon) gastrointestinal tracts and commonly causes weight loss, decreased appetite, vomiting, and/or diarrhea.
  14. Inappropriate Urination – This is the most common behavioral cat health problem and one extremely frustrating to pet parents. In addition to behavioral causes, inappropriate urination in cats can be caused by FLUTD (see above), bladder stones or infections.
  15. Constipation – Constipation is infrequent, incomplete, or difficult defecation with the passage of hard or dry feces. It may cause a lot of discomfort in cats.
  16. Chronic Kidney Disease – Chronic kidney disease is the gradual loss of kidney function and is one of the most common diseases in cats that affects senior cats. It can affect all ages and breeds and is most common in cats over the age of 9 years.
  17. Hyperthyroidism – Feline hyperthyroidism is one of the most common endocrine disorders in senior cats. Common symptoms include losing weight despite a good appetite. This can be diagnosed with a blood test.
  18. Fever – A fever is defined as abnormally high body temperature resulting from internal body controls. Fevers are believed to be a method to help fight infection since many viral and bacterial organisms do not thrive in hot environments. By increasing the body temperature, the body destroys those organisms. Most cats with fevers will be lethargic and have a decreased appetite.
  19. Gastroenteritis (Vomiting and Diarrhea) – Vomiting and diarrhea are common symptoms in cats. An occasional bout of vomiting and diarrhea is quite common in cats however, severe continued vomiting and diarrhea are not normal, and can be associated with life-threatening illnesses.
  20. Cancer - Cancer is an uncontrolled growth of cells on or within the body. It may be localized, or it may invade adjacent tissue and spread throughout the body. Cancer is common in cats and the rate increases with age. Cancer can occur in almost any location or body system – for example, areas such as the skin, stomach, bowels, mouth tissues, kidney or bladder, blood, brain, breasts, or bones.
  21. Ringworm – Ringworm, also known as Dermatophytosis, is a contagious fungal infection of the skin, caused by Microsporum canis. It is not caused by a worm. It is spread from person to person, from animal to person, or indirectly from contaminated objects or the soil. The associated spores can live for years in some conditions.
  22. Worms - When pet owners talk about worms, they are really talking about all gastrointestinal parasites. And there are several gastrointestinal parasites that commonly affect our dogs and cats. The most common are roundworms.
  23. Flea Infestation – The flea is a common problem for cats as well as their owners. Some pets are “flea allergic” and develop severe itching and skin infections even with one bite. This occurs because some cats are hypersensitive to the antigens in flea saliva. Learn more about Treatments for Cat Fleas.
  24. Bite Wounds - Bite wounds result when two animals engage in aggressive play or a fight. They can occur from other cats, dogs or other wild animals. Depending on the location and size of the animal, bites can result in significant trauma to the skin, muscles, nerves, and organs under the skin as well as tearing, puncturing and lacerations of the skin. Some bite wounds create punctures that can abscess leading to bite wound abscesses.
  25. Trauma – Trauma can occur from a fall, attack, being struck by an automobile or any other type of harm. The injuries can vary based on the force, the size of the pet, and the location injured and can vary from minor to life-ending. Common results of trauma can range from abrasions, bruising, lacerations, fractures, organ rupture, and/or death.
  26. Ear infection - Otitis externa, commonly known as an ear infection, is characterized by inflammation of the soft tissue components of the external ear canal. It can affect cats but is more common in dogs. Learn more about Cat Ear Infection: What to Do.

Cat owners should be aware of the health issues their pets may encounter, ranging from common problems like vomiting to more serious conditions like diabetes and cancer. Proactive healthcare management is crucial. Cat insurance can provide financial assistance and peace of mind, helping owners afford necessary treatments without as much worry. With insurance coverage, cat owners can offer the best care for their pets throughout their lives.

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