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Pet Bucket Blog

Common Infectious Diseases in Cats

 by jaime on 27 Jul 2014 |
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Summer is in full swing and families have migrated outdoors to enjoy the warm weather while it lasts. As you head outdoors more frequently now, so too do your household pets. Although most people believe cats to be indoor animals, there are a significant number of cats that are allowed the freedom to roam the great outdoors. As your cat spends more time outside, it becomes increasingly likely that it will interact with other cats.
 
Infectious diseases are not unique to the human race. Mad cow disease and bird flu are just a few examples of infectious diseases that impact the animal kingdom. It is important to be aware of the potential infectious diseases your cat could come in contact with, including the symptoms, so you can help your cat get the treatment it needs to remain healthy.
 
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FIV is very similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This infectious disease can lead to a number of different health problems because it lowers the ability of your cat's immune system to fight off disease. In a worst case scenario, FIV can lead to immunodeficiency syndrome. This condition is often referred to as feline AIDS. Once your cat is infected with FIV, it will be infected for life. However, FIV is manageable if detected and treated, and does not mean a death sentence for your feline friend.
 
Although FIV is from the same family as HIV, it cannot be spread to human beings or other animal species. The disease is spread primarily through bite wounds, meaning cats that spend a great deal of time outdoors, potentially fighting other cats, face the greatest risk of contracting FIV. Signs and symptoms of FIV include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and low white blood cell count.
 
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
FeLV suppresses the immune system in your cat, and can lead to cancer, or cause other serious illnesses in your cat. FeLV is a particularly tricky infectious disease in cats because an infected cat can live with the disease for years without displaying symptoms. FeLV is found in the saliva, nasal secretions, bodily fluids, and feces of cats and poses a particular transmission risk to those cats that spend a lot of time outdoors or in direct contact with other cats. Kittens, because they already have weaker immune systems, face a greater risk of contracting the disease.
 
There is not guaranteed reaction from your cat's body to FeLV. After initial infection, FeLV begins circulating in your cat's bloodstream. Once this occurs, your cat can spread the virus to other cats. However, some cats have immune systems that are capable of warding off FeLV. In these cats, the virus no longer circulates in the bloodstream. Instead, the virus lives on in a latent form in the cat's body without harming the cat.
 
Upper Respiratory Infections
This particular infectious disease in cats is most prevalent in kittens and is a term that actually describes a variety of diseases that can occur alone or together in your cat. The symptoms of upper respiratory infections, regardless of specific disease, tend to be similar. The primary areas of your cat's body impacted by these diseases are the nose and throat.
 
There are a variety of causes behind upper respiratory diseases, ranging from multiple forms of bacteria to feline herpesvirus 1. The signs and symptoms of upper respiratory infections include fever, nasal discharge, sneezing, runny eyes, reddened eyes, cough, gagging, and rapid breathing.
 
Feline Calicivirus
Calicivirus comes in a variety of different strains that can infect cats in mild to severe ways, depending upon the specific strain and disease it leads to in your cat. Although it is extremely rare, there is a particularly virulent strain of calicivirus that can cause very severe illness and even death. Cats suffering from calicivirus often remain infected for a long time, and in some cases for life.
 
This disease frequently presents as a form of upper respiratory infection, either alone or in combination with another disease. There is a particularly rare form of the disease that impacts numerous bodily systems and functions, and is known as a systemic illness. Recent outbreaks of this particular disease have been noticed in cat populations that live together in large groups, such as shelters.
 
Signs of calicivirus in your cat can range from runny noses and watery eyes to sores on the skin, vomiting, and diarrhea. Fortunately, it is possible to protect your cat against calicivirus with various vaccines. The VS-FCV vaccine is designed to combat the most serious forms of calicivirus.

 

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