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Common Cat Illnesses and their Symptoms Part 2

 by zack on 01 Apr 2013 |
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We’re picking up right where we left off from yesterday with part two of our list of common cat ailments and their symptoms. First up is…

Feline Panleukopenia

This condition is caused by a virus and is most commonly known as feline distemper. Though any cat can contract this illness, kittens are most at risk. Distemper is a contagious infection usually spread through litter boxes. If infected, your cat may become listless and lethargic. They may have severe diarrhea, vomiting, and refuse to eat or drink. Their skin will become dry due to dehydration, and fur may fall out or begin to look dull.

If you suspect distemper, get to your vet as soon as possible. Distemper can be diagnosed through the observation of symptoms, or a white blood cell count. There is no medication to fight the virus but an antibiotic will be administered to fight off secondary infections.

The bad news is that distemper is very difficult to fight off, and many cats die from the infection. Fortunately, there is a vaccine, and cats should be vaccinated against distemper while they’re kittens as part of routine veterinary care.

Chronic Kidney Failure
Kidney failure is most common in senior cats. Their kidneys begin to deteriorate and lose their ability to properly remove waste from the blood stream. Symptoms include: constipation, lack of appetite, lethargy, and nausea. As the kidneys fail they require more liquid to process toxins. Eventually, the cat can’t drink enough water and the toxins begin to affect its entire body. Your veterinarian will most likely use blood and urine tests to confirm kidney failure.

There is no cure for renal failure but your veterinarian may be able to suggest treatments that prolong your cat's life. Common treatments include an IV drip or even a dialysis machine. This special machine can help your pet filter the toxins, but is also be very costly.


Much like people, cats can develop diabetes, a condition where the body doesn’t produce enough insulin to properly maintain blood sugar levels. If diabetes isn’t properly diagnosed it can drastically shorten a cat’s lifespan. Early symptoms of feline diabetes may include increased appetite with no weight gain or even weight loss in your pet. Excessive drinking and urination is also common. As the disease progresses your cat becomes less active and their coat loses its luster. They could also experience weakness, fatigue, vomiting, diarrhea, and muscle weakness. Breathing will become labored and signs of dehydration will be evident.

Your veterinarian will run both blood and urine tests to screen your cat for diabetes. If the results are positive there are a number of treatments available depending on the severity of the disease. Many cats will require insulin shots once or twice a day along with a special diet. A very sick cat will need to be treated for dehydration and other issues before insulin and diet can help. Your veterinarian will work out a treatment for your pet as needed. 

So be on the lookout for these common cat ailments, and take good care of your favorite feline companion!


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