The 10 Most Frequent Feline Diseases and How To Care – Part 1

Welcome back to the Acoma Animal Clinic blog. We’re spending February looking at the most frequent feline diseases that afflict our furry friends. If your animal is currently suffering from any symptoms, contact your vet immediately. This blog is for information purposes only, not to replace a medical professional.

feline disease

5 Frequent Feline Diseases and How to Care for Them


Cancer, one of the worst diseases to afflict us humans is unfortunately present in our feline friends as well. And, like cancer in humans, there are a number of different types that cancer that can develop. Cancers are diseases where useless cells are growing and being created at an uncontrollable rate, the tissue surrounding these growths being invaded. There is no single cause of cancer, environmental and hereditary factors both can play a role in cancer’s development.

Cancer Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Sudden lameness
  • Swelling
  • Lumps
  • Sores
  • Skin infections
  • Abnormal discharge
  • Loss of appetite
  • Change in behavior
  • Bad breath

Treatment for Cancer

Obviously, with so many different types of cancers there are also many treatment options that vary according to type and stage of the cancer. The more common treatments are radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy, surgery or some combination. In certain instances an owner may opt for no treatment and instead work for palliative care. It is important to note, some cancers can be cured, and even in those that can’t, all patients receive some benefit from the treatments available.


Diabetes is caused by either an inefficient reaction to or lack of insulin in the body. For cats, it means that after they eat, when their bodies have broken down their food into it’s individual parts, one of which is glucose which requires insulin to move into cells. When insulin is not working correctly, blood sugar levels rise which can lead to worse complications.

Diabetes Symptoms

  • Weight loss
  • Excessive thirst
  • Lethargy
  • Dehydration
  • Change in Appetite
  • Unusual sweet smell to their breath

Treatment for Diabetes

Because there are two different types of diabetes, and every cat is unique, the necessary treatment can vary case by case. Nutrition is critical. Feeding your cat meals regularly with medication allowing for the best conditions for your pet to absorb nutrients. The goal is to keep the sugar levels in the blood to be neither too low nor too high.


While cats are not the most common host for this parasite, the spread of infected mosquitoes has seen more cats becoming host to heartworm parasites. Because cats are not the natural host for the parasite, often the heartworm does not complete its life cycle, never reaching the cat’s heart. Those worms that do manage to survive can cause worse health complications.

Heartworm Symptoms

  • Sudden death
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss
  • Loss of appetite
  • Depression
  • Cough
  • Breathing difficulties

Treatments for Heartworm

Because cats are not the most common host for heartworms, there is not any product in the United States that is approved for heartworm infections in cats. On the flip side, many cats are able to fight off the infection themselves. It is important to support your animal with medication as it tries to fight through it.


Despite the name, ringworm is not actually caused by any worm at all. It’s a fungus that infects the hair, nails, and skin. It is very contagious and leads to patchy areas of hair loss with red rings. Ringworm can spread to other pets as well as humans.

Symptoms of Ringworm

  • Bald patches with red in the center
  • Dandruff
  • Skin lesions on head, ears, and limbs.

Treatments for Ringworm

Working with your vet will get you the best results. They can prescribe the proper ointment or medicated shampoo to kill the fungus. Oral medications may also be necessary, depending on the case. In addition to treating the cat, you should treat the environment around the cat as well to prevent any re-infection from occurring.


This viral disease has a serious history. That’s why the word itself is enough to put fear in people. It is a disease that attacks the spinal cord and brain of all mammals, including dogs and cats. Once symptoms have begun, the disease is nearly 100% fatal.

Rabies Symptoms

  • Changes in behavior
  • Weakness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Disorientation
  • Paralysis
  • Seizure
  • Sudden death

Treatments for Rabies

Unfortunately, there is no such treatment. If your cat has an interaction with a rabid animal, make sure you wear gloves to prevent yourself from getting the infection and set up an immediate appointment! If your cat’s vaccines are up to date they are still going to need a booster vaccine right away. See your doctor immediately if you think you’ve been bitten by a rabid animal.


That will wrap up our first half of feline disease month here at Acoma Animal Clinic. We will see you again soon!

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