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Cat Illnesses

It can be concerning when your kitty begins to show signs of illness. You may wonder if it's contagious or if it might be serious. Here, our Toledo vets share some of the common illnesses in cats, the symptoms of each, and what to do if they are unwell.

Common Cat Illnesses & Diseases

When a cat becomes sick, you may not know if an illness requires veterinary care, or even if they are cat illnesses that can affect humans.

It's important to be able to identify health conditions, especially serious or potentially contagious cat illnesses. and know how to respond if they occur. Here, our vets share three common cat health conditions and the symptoms that accompany them:


If a cat’s body isn’t producing enough insulin to balance glucose or blood sugar levels, diabetes mellitus develops. Some of the symptoms that your cat may experience with diabetes are:

  • Vomiting
  • Thirst
  • Dehydration
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite (since the body is unable to use energy in food) or loss of appetite)
  • Motor function problems
  • Coma
  • Death

When poorly controlled, diabetes can shorten your cat’s lifespan and quality of life, and lead to several health problems, nerve disorders, and severe emergencies. Disease management will be the main focus of treatment and may include insulin injections.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Your cat’s upper respiratory tract - their sinuses, nose, and throat - can become infected with viruses and bacteria. Typically found in shelters and households with multiple cats, kitties can contract the feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus through something as simple as sharing water or food bowls.

This virus also can be transmitted between cats as they sneeze or cough.

Common symptoms of upper respiratory conditions in cats include:

  • Cough
  • Congestion
  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Gagging, drooling
  • Runny nose or clear/colored nasal discharge
  • Decreased or lost appetite


Regardless of the type of cancer, it is characterized by uncontrolled growth of cells. This may impact numerous cells and organs in a cat’s body. The disease first develops within a cell before attaching to tissue underneath the skin. It can then spread to other parts of your pet’s body.

Feline Leukemia Virus (which cats can get vaccinated against) is a common contributor to cancer. Toxins in the environment can also cause this disease. Depending on the type of cancer and how quickly it is diagnosed, your vet may be able to successfully treat it, allowing your kitty to continue to live a long, healthy life.

Symptoms may include:

  • Odor from the mouth
  • Significant increase or decrease in appetite
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Lumps or bumps that change size or shape
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating
  • Chronic weight loss

Depending on the type of cancer and its location, as well as the extent of the disease, whether it’s diagnosed in its early stages, whether effective treatment can be administered, and other factors, several potential treatments such as chemotherapy, radiation, or surgery may be provided.

Steps to Take When Your Cat is Showing Signs of Illness

If your cat is ill and any of the symptoms above are appearing, they must see a vet as soon as possible. At Shoreland Animal Hospital, we have an in-house laboratory and onsite pharmacy. We are available to see pets for same-day appointments to provide the care they require. Help is also available for emergencies during regular and after-hours.

Every minute counts when your cat is sick. By starting treatment right away, their recovery time could be reduced and prompt treatment may even save their life.

When is an emergency vet visit required?

Veterinary emergencies require immediate care and attention. If you see any of the following symptoms in your cat, it’s critical to get them to an emergency vet:

  • Severe bleeding
  • Seizures or staggering
  • Choking, difficulty breathing, or continuous coughing/gagging
  • Severe diarrhea or vomiting (2 or more episodes in 24 hours)
  • Unconsciousness

What are some ways that you can help protect your cat against illness?

A clean, happy, and low-stress home with lots of fresh water to drink will go a long way to preventing common cat illnesses. Routine checkups at feline-friendly veterinarians and preventive care are also important to keep your furry friend healthy. They should also receive regular vaccinations, eat a healthy diet, and get exercise.

Note: The advice provided in this post is intended for informational purposes and does not constitute medical advice regarding pets. For an accurate diagnosis of your pet's condition, please make an appointment with your vet.

Is your cat showing symptoms related to any of the above conditions? Contact our clinic in Toledo for an appointment.

Welcoming New Patients

Shoreland Animal Hospital is accepting new patients! Our veterinary team is passionate about the health of Toledo pets and is looking forward to meeting you and your furry friend. Contact us today to schedule an appointment!

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