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Common and Contagious Cat Illnesses & Diseases

Common and Contagious Cat Illnesses & Diseases

Sometimes it can be hard to tell if your cat is sick or feeling under the weather because they are experts at hiding their discomfort. That's why cat parents have to pay attention to their feline companions and be knowledgeable about the signs to look out for. In this blog, our Thousand Oaks vets discuss some contagious illnesses that are common among cats as well as when humans have to be careful.

Your Cat's Health

Cats are inscrutable pets and are very talented at hiding signs of pain or symptoms of illness. Oftentimes, cats will try to hide completely out of sight when they don't feel well. It's because of this that makes it difficult to tell if your cat is sick. Thus, it's very important for pet parents to keep an eye on their cat's health and be prepared for when their beloved kitty does show signs of being unwell. 

Common & Contagious Illnesses Among Cats

There are contagious illnesses that are seen more frequently than others among cats, and there are a couple you should know about if you have a cat in your home.

Upper Respiratory Infections (Cat Colds)

Viruses and bacteria such as feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus can lead your cat to develop an upper respiratory tract infection which affects their nose, throat, and sinuses.

These illnesses are quite contagious between cats that live in multi-cat homes, in shelters, or spend a lot of time outdoors with other cats. Feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus can transmit during normal activities like grooming, sharing a food or water bowl, coughing, and sneezing.  Cats infected with the virus can easily transmit the illness to other cats in the household, or in the neighborhood. Common symptoms of upper respiratory illness in cats include:

  • Sneezing
  • Congestion
  • Coughing
  • Drooling
  • Nasal discharge
  • Gagging
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV as it is commonly called is most often seen in male outdoor cats with a tendency to fight. This cat illness can be very serious and is often spread through bites obtained during fights, however, in rare situations, it can be passed from a female cat to her kittens.

FIV is a slow-acting virus and sometimes the symptoms might not even show up until years after the initial infection occurs. That said, FIV can severely weaken your cat's immune system once the disease takes hold making your feline friend susceptible to a number of serious secondary infections.

With the appropriate treatment, infected cats that are kept in an indoor, stress-free environment can live comfortable lives for a number of months or years before the disease reaches its chronic stages.

If your cat is infected with FIV, symptoms may not become readily apparent for months or years. They could even be intermittent. If your cat displays any of the following symptoms, they could be suffering from Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and need immediate veterinary care to help prevent symptoms from becoming more severe.

Common symptoms of FIV include:

  • Lack of appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Fever
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Anemia
  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Poor grooming
  • Disheveled coat
  • Abnormal appearance
  • Inflammation of the eye
  • Sneezing
  • Behavior change
  • Inflammation of the gums and mouth 
  • Discharge from eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Frequent urination
  • Straining to urinate
  • Urinating outside of litter box
  • Skin redness or hair loss
  • Wounds that don’t heal

Cat Illnesses That Affect Humans

There are a few illnesses common in cats that can spread to people. These are called Zoonotic diseases. But you will be happy to know that it's uncommon to get sick from your cat. However, you are at a higher risk if you have a weakened immune system.

Don't worry you don't have to give up your cat, you just need to take the proper measures recommended by your vet such as keeping your cat indoors, staying up to date with your kitty's shots and parasite prevention, and taking your cat to the vet for regular checkups.

Below we have provided a list of some of the most common Zootonic cat illnesses:

  • Rabies
  • Toxoplasmosis
  • Hookworms
  • Roundworms
  • Cat-Scratch disease
  • Salmonellosis

If your cat is displaying any signs of a contagious cat illness, contact our Thousand Oaks vets. We have the tools and knowledge to provide your pet with a diagnosis and treatment plan.

New Patients Welcome

VSEC Thousand Oaks is accepting new patients! Our board-certified specialists and experienced emergency veterinarians are passionate about restoring good health to animal companions.

Contact (805) 492-2436