Sick Kitty

Five of the most common health problems in cats.

Your fluffy, furry friend isn’t immune to sickness. Unfortunately, cats are susceptible to a variety of illnesses, each with specific symptoms. No one wants to see their beloved pet uncomfortable or in pain. Knowing what to look for and getting prompt treatment can help your cat purr again in no time.

Here are a few of the most common health conditions seen in house cats, their symptoms, and the best form of treatment.


Like humans, cats have teeth and gums that are prone to disease. Over time, bacteria can build up along the gums, hardening into plaque that looks like a yellow crust. This plaque can cause the gums to pull away from your feline’s sharp little teeth and cause bad breath, red and inflamed gums, and trouble eating. If left untreated, the bacteria can enter the bloodstream where it can lead to kidney damage.

Close inspection of your cat’s teeth can reveal gingivitis. Your vet may recommend daily brushing of your cat’s teeth with feline toothpaste and feeding it special cat food designed to strengthen teeth and gums. Antibiotics may also be necessary.

Upper Respiratory Infections

That’s right—cats can get colds, too. They’re caused by different viruses than those that affect humans, but they cause similar symptoms, including congestion, runny nose, loss of appetite, shallow breathing, and even a mild fever. Cats that live with multiple cats, are under stress, or have flat faces are most likely to get an upper respiratory infection.
Keeping your cat isolated from other cats, reducing stress, and offering plenty of fluids can help relieve symptoms.


All cats, whether they live indoors or outdoors, are at risk for worms. Roundworms are the most prevalent and are spread by eating infected rodents, insects, birds, or soil. These worms inhabit a cat’s intestines but can spread to the blood and organs. Roundworms look like thin threads and can be seen in the feces or vomit.

Tapeworms are another common worm parasite in cats and are contracted by eating a flea that contains tapeworm eggs. These rice-shaped worms live in the intestines and can be seen in a cat’s feces or bedding.

A cat with worms may experience diarrhea, loss of appetite, a distended abdomen, and weight loss. Your vet can prescribe deworming medication to quickly and effectively treat a worm problem. Treatment also includes keeping your cat indoors and eliminating any fleas.


It’s nasty and smelly, but it’s a common problem for cats. Vomiting can be harmless or it may signal a dangerous health condition, so keep an eye on an ill cat. They may have just eaten something that didn’t settle well or ingested something poisonous, have an infection, urinary tract infection, or kidney failure.

Withhold food and water until the cat hasn’t vomited for a couple hours, and then gradually increase its food and water. In the event vomiting persists or is accompanied by other distressing symptoms, take your cat to the vet.

Lower Urinary Tract Diseases

Cats are prone to problems associated with their urinary tract system. Cats who strain to pee, pee frequently, have blood in their urine, seem in pain while urinating, or have lost their appetite may be dealing with a urinary tract disease that needs to be evaluated by the vet. A variety of conditions cause urinary problems including blockage, infection, bladder stones, or cancer.

Medications, rest, and a change in diet should help clear up the problem.

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