Thursday, April 3, 2014

Five Most Common Illnesses in Cats

Whether you are planning on adopting a kitten or already have one, make sure you are taking your furry friend on frequent trips to the vet. Kittens are much more susceptible to infections from the environment than adult cats, because their bodies have not built up immunity to anything since the short time they’ve been introduced to the world. Make sure you’re aware of the telltale signs of these common illnesses in kittens and also cats:

Five Most Common Illnesses in Cats

Upper Respiratory Infection

While upper respiratory infections occur commonly in adult cats as well, kittens suffer from the most severe symptoms. These symptoms include lack of appetite, runny eyes, lethargy, coughing, runny nose and sneezing. Feline upper respiratory infections are highly contagious among cats of all ages.

The two most common culprits for this illness are the feline rhinotracheitis virus (also known as herpesvirus) and the feline calicivirus. You can vaccinate your kitten or cat against both of these. While vaccination does not completely prevent upper respiratory infections, inoculated cats and kittens experience less severe cases.


There are a multitude of reasons why your kitten may be experiencing diarrhea; the reason could be as simple as switching up its food or from stress - especially when first separated from their families. However, it can also signal the presence of intestinal parasites like worms and one-celled parasites.

A lot of kittens contract hookworms or roundworms, because they ingest them when feeding on their mother's milk. Tapeworms and fleas go hand-in-hand because fleas serve as intermediate hosts for this type of worm; cats can also catch tapeworms from small prey. Taking proper flea prevention measures and limiting access to wild animals will likely diminish your kitten’s possibilities of getting tapeworms. Last resort, you can also effectively de-worm kittens with medications.

Ear Mites

While cats can get ear mites, here and there, at any age, kittens can suffer from them frequently. Look for a discharge in the ear that looks like black/brown coffee grounds. Since kittens will often scratch their ears when they have ear mites, sores and redness around the ears is a common indication as well.


Ringworm is not really a worm, but an infectious, itchy skin fungus that causes hair loss. Symptoms include skin lesions and bald patches on the ears, head or forelimbs. However, you can expect to see hair loss throughout the entire body in severe cases. Kittens with milder cases of ringworm might simply show symptoms of dandruff. Ringworms are highly contagious, and humans can catch it from kittens as well - even if the cat shows no signs of having the infection.

Feline Distemper

Feline distemper, also known as panleukopenia, is a highly contagious infection that can lead to death. Symptoms include fever, vomiting, lack of appetite and diarrhea. Luckily, you can protect your kitten with a feline distemper vaccine.

Watch for signs of these common illnesses when you are adopting and raising a kitten. However, rely on a good veterinarian for a concrete diagnosis.