Cat health

Cat health

Topics concerning the health and welfare of domestic cats includes infectious and genetic diseases, diet and nutrition and non-therapeutic surgical procedures such as neutering and declawing.


Infectious disease

An infectious disease is caused by the presence of organisms such as viruses, bacteria, fungi, or parasites (either animalian or protozoan). Most of these diseases can spread from cat to cat via airborne pathogens or through direct or indirect contact. Certain infectious diseases are a concern from a public health standpoint because they are zoonoses (transmittable to humans).


Viral respiratory diseases in cats can be serious, especially in catteries and kennels. Causing one-half of the respiratory diseases in cats.cite web|author=Carter, G.R.; Flores, E.F.; Wise, D.J.|year=2006|title=Herpesviridae|work=A Concise Review of Veterinary Virology| url=|accessdate=2006-06-08] Timely vaccination can reduce the risk and severity of an infection. Feline viral rhinotracheitis is the most important of these diseases and is found worldwide. The other important cause of feline respiratory disease is the feline calicivirus.

*Feline viral rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an upper respiratory infection of cats caused by feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1), of the family "Herpesviridae". It is also known as feline influenza. FVR is very contagious and can cause severe disease, including death from pneumonia in young kittens. All members of the "Felidae" family are susceptible to FVR,
*Feline calicivirus (FCV)
*Chlamydophila felis
*Feline panleukopenia (FPV) more commonly known as feline distemper is caused by the feline parvovirus, a close relative of canine parvovirus. It is not related to canine distemper. Panleukopenia is primarily spread through contact with an infected cat's bodily fluids, feces, or fleas.
*Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a retrovirus transmitted between infected cats when the transfer of saliva or nasal secretions is involved, for example when sharing a feeding dish. If not defeated by the animal’s immune system, the virus can be lethal. The disease is a virus, not a cancer. The name stems from the fact that the first disease associated with the virus was a form of leukemia. By the time it was discovered that the virus was not the same as leukemia, the misnomer had already found its way into the vocabulary of pet owners.
*Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), commonly known as Feline AIDS is a lentivirus that affects domesticated housecats worldwide. FeLV and FIV are in the same biological family, and are sometimes mistaken for one another. However, the viruses differ in many ways. Although many of the diseases caused by FeLV and FIV are similar, the specific ways in which they are caused also differs.
*Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP)' is a fatal, incurable disease caused by Feline Infectious Peritonitis Virus (FIPV), which is a mutation of Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV/FeCoV). The mutated virus has the ability to invade and grow in certain white blood cells, namely macrophages. The immune system's response causes an intense inflammatory reaction in the containing tissues. This disease is generally fatal [ [ Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) ] ] . However its incidence rate is roughly 1 in 5000 for households with one or two cats. [ [ ASPCA: Pet Care: Cat Care: Feline Infectious Peritonitis ] ]
*Rabies in cats is a fatal disease transmitted by the bite of an infected mammal, such as a dog, raccoon, bat, or another cat. Animals with rabies suffer deterioration of the brain and tend to behave bizarrely and often aggressively, increasing the chances that they will bite another animal or a person and transmit the disease. Rabies is rare in many developed countries with more than 99% of all human deaths from rabies occurring in Africa, Asia and South America which report thirty thousand deaths annually.cite web | title = Rabies vaccine | work = WHO - Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals | url = | accessdate = 2006-04-20] In the United States, cats make up 4.6% of reported cases of rabies infected animals. [ [ Rabies surveillance in the United States during 2006.] ]
*H5N1. See: Global spread of H5N1#Felidae (cats)

Treatment for Feline Leukemia Virus and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Infections

In 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture issued a conditional license for a new treatment aid termed Lymphocyte T-Cell Immune Modulator [United States Department of Agriculture. Veterinary Biological Products; Licensees and Permittees, December 2006. [] ] . Lymphocyte T-Cell Immune Modulator is manufactured by T-Cyte Therapeutics, Inc. and exclusively sold by IMULAN BioTherapeutics, LLC.

Lymphocyte T-Cell Immune Modulator is intended as an aid in the treatment of cats infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and/or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and the associated symptoms of lymphocytopenia, opportunistic infection, anemia, granulocytopenia, or thrombocytopenia. The absence of any observed adverse events in several animal species, suggests that the product has a very low toxicity profile.

Lymphocyte T-Cell Immune Modulator is a potent regulator of CD-4 lymphocyte production and function. [Beardsley, et al. "Induction of T-Cell Maturation by a Cloned Line of Thymic Epithelium (TEPI) Immunology 80: pp. 6005-6009, (Oct. 1983). ] It has been shown to increase lymphocyte numbers and Interleukin 2 production in animals. [Beardsley, Terry R. Patent # 7,196,060; Method to enhance hematopoiesis. [,196,060 Method to enhance hematopoiesis - Google Patents ] at] Lymphocyte T-Cell Immune Modulator is a single chain polypeptide. It is a strongly cationic glycoprotein, and is purified with cation exchange resin. Purification of protein from bovine-derived stromal cell supernatants produces a substantially homogeneous factor, free of extraneous materials. The bovine protein is homologous with other mammalian species and is a homogeneous 50 kDa glycoprotein with an isoelectric point of 6.5. The protein is prepared in a lyophilized 1 microgram dose. Reconstitution in sterile diluent produces a solution for subcutaneous injection. [Beardsley, Terry R. Patent # 5,616,554; Immune-enhancing agent for therapeutic use in immunocompromised hosts. [,616,554 Immune-enhancing agent for ... - Google Patents ] at]





*Cytauxzoonosis is a mostly fatal tick-borne disease in domestic cats. It is identified as the blood parasite "Cytauxzoon felis".
*Ear mites are mites that live in the ears of animals.

Genetic disease

*Familial renal disease is inherited in Abyssinians and Persians
Feline hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
*Heart valve dysplasia
*Luxating patella
*Portosystemic shunt. Found in Persians and Himalayans.

kin disorder

Cat skin disorders are among the most common health problems in cats. Skin disorders in cats have many causes, and many of the common skin disorders that afflict people have a counterpart in cats. The condition of a cat's skin and coat can also be an important indicator of its general health. Skin disorders of cats vary from acute, self-limiting problems to chronic or long-lasting problems requiring life-time treatment.

*Cheyletiella is a mild dermatitis caused by mites of the genus "Cheyletiella". It is also known as walking dandruff due to skin scales being carried by the mites. "Cheyletiella" live on the skin surface of dogs, cats, rabbits, and humans.
*Feline acne
*Feline eosinophilic granuloma
*Flea allergy dermatitis
*Miliary dermatitis (feline eczema)

Tumors and Cancer

*Bladder cancer
*Bone cancer
*Intestinal cancer
*Liver cancer
*Lymphoma in animals
*Mammary tumor
*Mast cell tumor
*Nose cancer
*Skin cancer
*Soft tissue sarcoma
*Stomach cancer

Other diseases

*Cerebellar hypoplasia is a disorder found in cats and dogs in which the cerebellum is not completely mature at birth. Cerebellar hypoplasia causes jerky movements, tremors and generally uncoordinated motion. The animal often falls down and has trouble walking. Tremors increase when the animal is excited and subside when at ease.
*A corneal ulcer is an inflammatory condition of the cornea involving loss of its outer layer. It is very common in dogs and is sometimes seen in cats.
*Epilepsy is characterized by recurrent unprovoked seizures. Epilepsy in cats is rare likely because there is no hereditary component to epilepsy in cats.
*Feline asthma
*Feline Hepatic Lipidosis also known as Feline Fatty Liver Syndrome, is one of the most common forms of liver disease of cats. [ [ Welcome to! ] ] The disease begins when the cat stops eating from a loss of appetite, forcing the liver to convert body fat into usable energy.
*Feline lower urinary tract disease is a term that is used to cover many problems of the feline urinary tract, including stones and cystitis. The term feline urologic syndrome is an older term which is still sometimes used for this condition. It is a common disease in adult cats, though it can strike in young cats too. It may present as any of a variety of urinary tract problems, and can lead to a complete blockage of the urinary system, which if left untreated is fatal.
*Feline odontoclastic resorptive lesion
*Feline spongiform encephalopathy


Diet and nutrition

Veterinarians commonly recommend commercial cat foods that are formulated to address the specific nutritional requirements of cats although an increasing number of owners are opting for home-prepared cooked or raw diets.

Although cats are obligate carnivores, vegetarian and vegan cat food are preferred by owners uncomfortable with feeding animal products to their pets. The US FDA Center for Veterinary Medicine has come out against vegetarian cat and dog food for health reasons. [ [ Vegetarian dogs and cats: Kibble doesn't cut it anymore ] ]

Cats can be selective eaters. Although it is extremely rare for a cat to deliberately starve itself to the point of injury, in obese cats, the sudden loss of weight can cause a fatal condition called Feline Hepatic Lipidosis, a liver dysfunction which causes pathological loss of appetite and reinforces the starvation, which can lead to death within as little as 48 hours.

Pica is a condition in which animals chew or eat unusual things such as fabric, plastic or wool. In cats, this is mostly harmless as they do not digest most of it, but can be fatal or require surgical removal if a large amount of foreign material is ingested (for example, an entire sock). It tends to occur more often in Burmese, Oriental, Siamese and breeds with these in their ancestry.

Food Allergy

Food allergy is a non-seasonal disease with skin and/or gastrointestinal disorders. The main complaint is Pruritus, which is usually resistant to treatment by steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. The exact prevalence of food allergy in cats remains unknown. There is no breed, sex or age predilection, although some breeds are commonly affected. Before the onset of clinical signs, the animals have been fed the offending food components for at least two years, although some animals are less than a year old. In 20 to 30% of the cases, cats have concurrent allergic diseases (atopy / flea-allergic dermatitis). A reliable diagnosis can only be made with dietary elimination-challenge trials. Provocation testing is necessary for the identification of the causative food component(s). Therapy consists of avoiding the offending food component(s). [cite journal | last = Verlinden| first = A.| coauthors = Hesta, M., Millet, S., Janssens, G.P.| year = 2006| month = 4-5| title = Food Allergy in Dogs and Cats: A Review| journal = Critical Reviews in Food Science and Nutrition (Taylor & Francis)| volume = 46| issue = 3| pages = 259–273
doi = 10.1080/10408390591001117
url =
accessdate = 2006-10-27


Malnutrition has been seen in cats fed homemade or vegetarian/vegan diets produced by owners with good intentions, and most published recipes have been only crudely balanced (by computer) using nutrient averages. Because the palatability, digestibility, and safety of these recipes have not been adequately or scientifically tested, it is difficult to characterize all of these homemade diets. Generally, most formulations contain excessive protein and phosphorus and are deficient in calcium, vitamin E, and microminerals such as copper, zinc, and potassium. Also, the energy density of these diets may be unbalanced relative to the other nutrients. Commonly used meat and carbohydrate ingredients contain more phosphorus than calcium. Homemade feline diets that are not actually deficient in fat or energy usually contain a vegetable oil that cats do not find palatable; therefore, less food is eaten causing a calorie deficiency. Rarely are homemade diets balanced for microminerals or vitamins. Owner neglect is also a frequent contributing factor in malnutrition. [cite web
url =
title = Nutritional Requirements and Related Diseases
accessdate = 2006-10-27
author = John E. Bauer, D.V.M., Ph.D., Dipl. A.C.V.N.
date = 2005-1-1
work = The Merck Veterinary Manual, 9th edition. ISBN 0-911910-50-6
publisher = Merck & Co., Inc.
language = English

Cats fed exclusively on raw, freshwater fish can develop a thiamine deficiency. Those fed exclusively on liver may develop vitamin A toxicity.

Product recalls

Dental health

Cats require regular brushing of their teeth, like humans. But instead of using a regular toothpaste, get one from a local veterinarian. Regular toothpaste can be potentially toxic to cats. Flossing is also a good idea. It's best to accustom the cat to this procedure while it is still a kitten.

Non-therapeutic surgical procedures

paying and neutering


Dangers in urban environment

*High–rise syndrome

Toxic substance

Some houseplants are harmful to cats. For example, the leaves of the Easter Lily can cause permanent and life-threatening kidney damage to cats, and Philodendron are also poisonous to cats. The Cat Fanciers' Association has a full list of plants harmful to cats. [cite web | url = | title = Plants and Your Cat | publisher = The Cat Fanciers' Association, Inc. | accessdate = 2007-05-15]

Paracetamol or acetaminophen (trade name Panadol and Tylenol) is extremely toxic to cats, and should not be given to them under any circumstances. Cats lack the necessary glucuronyl transferase enzymes to safely break paracetamol down and minute portions of a normal tablet for humans may prove fatal.cite journal | author=Allen AL | title=The diagnosis of acetaminophen toxicosis in a cat | journal=Can Vet J | year=2003 | pages=509–10 | volume=44 | issue=6 | pmid=12839249] Initial symptoms include vomiting, salivation and discolouration of the tongue and gums. After around two days, liver damage is evident, typically giving rise to jaundice. Unlike an overdose in humans, it is rarely liver damage that is the cause of death, instead methaemoglobin formation and the production of Heinz bodies in red blood cells inhibit oxygen transport by the blood, causing asphyxiation. Effective treatment is occasionally possible for small doses, but must be extremely rapid.

igns that a cat requires veterinary attention

The following symptoms require urgent veterinary attention:Straining non-productively, breathing through the mouth, difficulty breathing, gums that are white or blue, fitting for longer than one minute, collapse. You should also take your cat to the vets urgently if it has been involved in a road traffic accident, fallen from a height, eaten anything poisonous or has been exposed to smoke. There are many other symptoms for which a cat requires veterinary attention.


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