Cats Diseases

Just as with humans, the number of diseases that cats can acquire is endless. However, that’s no reason to panic. Most cats only need to be protected against a few of the more common illnesses.

Cats that are allowed to roam outdoors are more susceptible to disease than cats that only live indoors and do not interact with other cats. This is because outdoor cats come into contact with other cats more frequently, some of whom may be strays or have diseases, and are exposed to the elements.

The core cat vaccinations are designed to protect against diseases that are either very common or that are extremely harmful to your cat. These generally include the following:

  • feline calicivirus
  • feline panleukopenia (distemper)
  • feline viral rhinotracheitis
  • rabies.

A vaccine for feline leukemia is also recommended as a core vaccine for cats that are allowed outdoors or live outdoors. These vaccines can be supplemented with non-core vaccinations, which are diseases that are less common or that not all cats are susceptible to. A veterinarian can recommend appropriate vaccines for keeping up your cat’s health.

Generally, cat disease vaccines last from one to three years. A veterinarian can make recommendations on vaccines for your cat and tell you which cat diseases he is at risk for based on your location, his age and a few other factors.

Learn about different cat diseases and get information on their symptoms, if they should be vaccinated against, your cat’s risk for these diseases and more. We’ll cover diseases such as feline viral rhinotracheitis, calicivirus, panleukopenia, feline leukemia, feline AIDS and feline infectious peritonitis (FIP).

Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia (FeLV) is a type of virus that can cause disease and even death in cats. While cats that live indoors only acquire FeLV about 3 percent of the time, over 30 percent of outdoor cats acquire the disease.

Feline leukemia is contagious, but it cannot be transferred to humans. Unlike many human viruses, FeLV is not usually transferred through the air. A cat gets the virus through contact with the saliva of an infected cat (i.e., grooming or sharing food or water bowls).

Some cats will not exhibit symptoms of the disease and may even have an immune response to the disease. Young cats are the least likely to have an immune response and the most likely to be infected by feline leukemia.

Feline AIDS

Feline AIDS, also known as feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), is similar to HIV or AIDS in humans, though it is not the same disease and cannot be passed to humans. Outdoor cats are more susceptible to this disease, as it’s usually passed from cat to cat during biting or catfights.

Feline AIDS can take years to show symptoms or even to show up on a blood test. The disease’s symptoms can vary, but weight loss, diarrhea, respiratory problems and coat consistency differences may be noticed. Unfortunately, there is no cure for Feline AIDS and it eventually shuts down all of a cat’s organs, causing death.

Ask your veterinarian for information on testing, protection and more for feline AIDS.