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What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

A number of cat illnesses and their symptoms may worry you and can even be fatal if they aren't promptly treated. Here, our Santa Cruz County vets offer insight into the symptoms and signs you should be aware of.

What are some common cat illnesses?

As a cat parent, there are some illnesses you should be aware of. If necessary, be ready to visit your vet. This goes doubly because cats will often hide their symptoms and isolate when sick, making it difficult to gauge how bad an illness really is. Here are examples of 3 common cat illnesses and their symptoms. 

Upper Respiratory Infections

Your cat's upper respiratory tract, including their throat, sinuses and nose, can become infected with bacteria and viruses. These infections are often passed around in multi-cat households and shelters. Cats may contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus through something as basic as sharing a food or water bowl. 

They can transmit this virus to other cats the same way, or by sneezing or coughing. It can also be passed during grooming. 

Symptoms include:

  • Fever
  • Cough
  • Gagging, drooling
  • Runny nose or clear/colored nasal discharge
  • Decreased or lost appetite
  • Sneezing
  • Congestion 


If a cat doesn't produce sufficient insulin to balance blood sugar or glucose levels, they develop diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, it may lead to several serious symptoms, such as:

  • Increased appetite (as the body cannot use the energy in food) or loss of appetite
  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Motor function problems
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Coma
  • Death

If diabetes isn't properly controlled, this disease can shorten your cat's lifespan and lead to numerous health issues like nerve disorders. It may also cause severe emergencies developing. Treatment can include injections of insulin, just like in people, and will primarily be focused on managing the condition.


Uncontrolled growth of cells can cause cancer, which can affect a wide range of organs and cells in a cat's body. The disease first starts to develop within a cell, before it attaches to tissue below the skin and potentially spreading to other areas. 

A common contributor to cancer is Feline Leukemia Virus, which cats can be diagnosed against. Other causes include environmental toxins. If caught early during a physical exam, your vet may be able to treat cancer. 

Symptoms include:

  • Sores that do not heal
  • Chronic weight loss
  • Odor from the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding or discharge
  • Marked increase or decrease in appetite
  • Lumps or bumps that change in size or shape
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

Depending on whether the tumor is caught and diagnosed early enough, the type of cancer and its extent, specific location within the body, etc., whether an effective treatment plan can be developed, and other factors, a number of treatments such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy may be attempted. 

What should I do if my cat is ill?

If your cat is ill and exhibiting any of the above symptoms, it's key that you bring them in to your vet as soon as possible. At Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital, we have an in-house pet laboratory, onsite pharmacy and emergency services in order to provide your pet with the care they deserve when they need it most.

Do you suspect your cat is sick? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital today.

New Patients Welcome

Aptos-Creekside Pet Hospital is accepting new patients! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Cruz County companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's first appointment.

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Contact (831) 688-4242