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Cat diseases – How to detect them and prevent his suffering (part 1)

Domestic cats, just like other animals, may get diseases from various sources: genetic, infection by viruses, bacteria or parasites… it´s impossible to summarize all the diseases that can affect our cat friends. That’s why it’s so important to not only providing love to him, but also taking him periodically to the vet: these visits may prevent illness of great suffering or even death. Next I´ll name some of the most common diseases: 


This disease affects the urinary tract of cats, being more frequent in males, obstructing the urethra at the penis level and preventing urination.


  • Difficulty or inability to urinate.
  • Persistent licking of the perineal area (near the anus).

Cat licking near the perineal area

  •  Changes in mood.


1) Accumulation of gravel stones formed by improper feeding or poor quality feed (excessive additives and artificial colorings).

2) Cat obesity.

3) Urinary tract infections and stones.

4) Stress.


1) Reducing inflammation of the urinary tract and then removing the accumulated urine.

2) Diet low on protein, phosphorus and salt (sodium).


1) Learning your cat´s habits when urinating will help you detect any changes that could be a sign of infection; don´t wait until he´s not able to urinate anymore, for this may endanger his life.

2) Always giving him food made with natural ingredients, with no additives or chemicals.

3) Keeping him well hydrated.

Infectious Peritonitis (IFP)

A contagious and deadly disease, caused by the virus of feline infectious peritonitis (FIPV), which arises from a mutation of Feline Enteric Coronavirus (FECV). It´s important to clarify that it´s not an inflammation of the peritoneum (abdominal cover), but an inflammation of blood vessels (vasculitis). The virus invades and grows in the white blood cells and in response, the cat’s immune system causes severe tissue inflammation.


It can occur in two main ways:

1) Dry Infectious Peronitis: harder to detect because its symptoms resemble other diseases: weight loss, poor appetite, malaise and fever.

Small knots may appear in different parts of the body: heart, liver, kidneys and the back of the eye. Instability will be observed in the hind legs when the central nervous system is affected.

2) Wet PIF: its main feature is the accumulation of fluid in body cavities such as the chest and abdomen respectively, producing respiratory problems and abdominal enlargement.

cat diseases - liquid extracted from a cat with wet PIFLiquid extracted from a cat with wet PIF

Image / “Kalumet”.

Other symptoms

  • High fever.
  • Anorexia, weight loss.
  • Decay and vomiting.


When the disease occurs with all the obvious symptoms, it has a 95% mortality. There´s no specific treatment for this disease, the only thing that is sought is to improve the quality of life and relieving the symptoms.


1) The incidence is higher in cat communities and feline farms, so in these places it is important to maintain highly environmental cleaning and disinfection with sodium hypochlorite.

2) Making blood samples to every new cat that enters the community to avoid infecting the healthy ones.

3) Vaccinating those that are seronegative and tracking the evolution of the infected ones.

4) Separating the healthy cats from the ones that are sick.

5) Each cat should have his own plate of food and drink.

6) Not sharing the litter box with other cats and washing it weekly.

There´s no effective vaccine for this disease.



Feline Leukemia

Serious illness in the form of leukocytes (white blood cells that protect the body from infections) cancer.

Spread through:

  • Contact, lickings, secretions (mucus and saliva), urine and feces from an infected cat.
  • Sharing the cat litter, food bowl and water with an infected cat.
  • In kittens, it can be spread through the placenta or breast milk. A blood test can help to detect if the mother has leukemia.

Cat suckling her kittens


  • Tumors in various organs of the cat: spleen, kidney, lymph nodes…
  • Skin, oral, respiratory and urinary tract infections.
  • Anemia, anorexia, weight loss and depression.

Depressed catDepressed cat


Your veterinarian will recommend medicines to increase his immunity as well as antibiotics for secondary infections, but it´s not curative.


Vaccination is the best ally to prevent this disease.

Feline Immunodeficiency (VIH)

Commonly referred to as “cats AIDS” because it attacks their immune system in a way that it can´t battle against disease and infection. The virus is located in saliva.

Spread by:

1) A bite from a sick cat to a healthy one.

2) Sharing water and food with an infected cat.

3) Humans can´t get infected by it.


Conjunctivitis, fever, loss of appetite, diarrhea, tumors in the lymph nodes and recurrent infections in the skin, gums, urinary tract and respiratory system.

cat diseases - cat with sick gumsCat with sick gums

Image / Matt Baume.


  • Once the disease is presented, there´s no specific treatment to cure it.
  • Asymptomatic cats (with no symptoms of disease) can live for years, in the same way that human HIV-carriers with no symptoms do.
  • Symptomatic cats can live many months with the careful use of antibiotics and immunity building. 
  • It´s important to see the vet immediately if you observe a bite in his body in order to detect any possible contagion.


Testing all new cats before they enter home, to treat the disease early (if any) and avoiding the infection of other cats.

Pay attention to changes in the gums, eyes, skin, lymph nodes and abdomen.

No vaccine exists to ensure the protection from this disease. 

ICat Diseases (II) we´ll take a look at Rhinotracheitis, Feline Pneumonitis, Dermatophytosis, Mange and Rabies.