Upper respiratory infections (URIs). URIs are similar in many ways to the common cold in humans and produce many of the same symptoms: sneezing, runny nose and eyes, reddened eyes, fever, and decreased appetite. However, URIs can be much more serious than common colds—they can be fatal if left untreated. These airborne viruses are highly contagious; they can be transmitted to cats through human handling and through contact with other cats and with inanimate objects such as litter boxes, food bowls, and grooming tools. Separate any new cat from your other cats for at least three weeks until you are sure your newcomer doesn't have any symptoms of a URI.
Prevention is the best approach to URIs—have your cat vaccinated. But if your cat does come down with cold-like symptoms, contact your veterinarian right away. The veterinarian will probably prescribe antibiotics to prevent secondary infections and give you precise care instructions. Follow them carefully and make sure your cat eats and drinks sufficiently.
Rabies. All cats, even indoor cats, should be vaccinated against rabies, which is now seen more commonly in cats than in any other domestic animal. Rabies is a viral illness that is transmitted through bite wounds from infected animals and attacks the nervous system. If your cat bites anyone, you may need to show proof of rabies vaccination.
Rabies is a fatal illness. Prevent rabies through vaccination and by keeping your cat inside.
Feline (Distemper) panleukopenia. This is a highly contagious viral disease that can be transmitted through contact with humans, infected cats, clothing, hair, paws, food bowls, and even cat carriers. The disease comes on suddenly with vomiting, loss of appetite, and diarrhea. Vaccinate against this virus.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV). FeLV is a fatal infectious virus that affects the immune system and can cause several forms of cancer and other associated diseases. It is transmitted through the saliva, urine, and feces of infected cats. There is no link between feline leukemia and human forms of leukemia.
There are blood tests to determine if your cat may be carrying the virus. Your cat should be tested before being vaccinated. Since there is no cure, it is best to keep your cat indoors (and away from contact with other cats). Discuss vaccination schedules with you veterinarian.
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). FIV is similar to human acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), but it is not the same virus and cannot be passed to humans.
This fatal virus attacks the immune system, causing a variety of symptoms. General signs can include chronic, nonresponding infections; respiratory problems; appetite loss; persistent diarrhea; and severe oral infections. FIV is passed from cat to cat primarily through bites.
A vaccine is available to help protect cats from contracting FIV, but an FIV blood test should always be performed before vaccination. The best protection against FIV is keeping your cat happy indoors.
Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP). FIP is another virus that is almost always fatal to cats. This virus can take two forms, commonly referred to as wet (which involves fluid in the abdomen) and dry (which does not). Both forms of FIP may cause fever, lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, and loss of appetite.
A blood test is available to determine if your cat has been exposed to this family of viruses. You can learn more about this test by talking to your regular veterinarian. There is no effective treatment for FIP, but there is hope for prevention in the form of recently developed vaccines. The best prevention is to keep your cat indoors, up-to-date on vaccines, and away from strange animals
Tapeworms. Tapeworms are a common intestinal parasite of dogs and cats. There are three common types of tapeworms in our area but the most common tapeworm is transmitted by fleas. Cats eat infected fleas and the tapeworm attaches to the intestine. Over time worms grow up to 12 inches in length and shed portions of its body called prolottids through the feces. The small pieces of tapeworm actually move and appear much like a grain of rice. These small portions of worms are actually egg packets that are later eaten by fleas which continues the life cycle. Research has shown that cats groom up to 75% of the fleas off their body in 24 hours. It is entirely possible that many cat owners are not aware their cat has any fleas and may not be fortunate to even see the tapeworm segments. Symptoms of tapeworms can be vomiting, diarrhea, unkempt haircoat, and itching around the rectal area.
Toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is a parasitic infection that may cause flu-like symptoms. The organism that causes toxoplasmosis — Toxoplasma gondii — is one of the world's most common parasites. In the United States alone, an estimated more than 60 million people have toxoplasmosis. It can affect both humans and animals. For more information on Toxoplamosis.
As cats age various disease processes have the potential to develop. Several common ones are sugar diabetes, kidney disease, dental disease, and heart disease. Another disease, Feline Hyperthyroidism, has also become a problem in cats as they get older.
Feline Hyperthyroidism. In this disease the thyroid gland secretes an excess amount of a hormone called thyroxine. Thyroxine affects the metabolism of all organs, so excess can result in many different problems. Common symptoms are weight loss, vomiting, and diarrhea. Some of these cats eat excessively yet lose weight. Some will even drink and urinate excessively. Others may seem agitated or restless. As the disease progresses it can lead to heart failure and blindness.
During a physical exam one can sometimes feel an enlarged thyroid gland, although a normal feeling gland can also have the problem. One might also detect a rapid heart rate and even notice problems with the retina. A blood sample is an excellent way to check for excess thyroid hormone. One of the most accurate ways to diagnose this problem is to do a radio nucleotide scan of the gland. With this test one can actually visualize the gland and see the problem area.
This disease is treated in several ways depending on many factors. A medication named Tapazole is frequently used because it will lessen the amount of excess thyroxine in the bloodstream. It will not cure the problem, so it will have to be given for the rest of your pet's life. In addition, it has the potential for side effects, this includes liver failure. your vet needs to examine your pet every 3-6 months while it is on Tapazole therapy.
Another treatment, and one that will cure the problem, is to give radioactive Iodine that destroys only the part of the thyroid gland that is responsible for the excess production. This is the treatment of choice in most cases. Your pet will be sent to a specialist in our area for this treatment.