Common Feline Health Problems

Cat owners have many issues to watch out for when it comes to their pets’ health. A number of afflictions commonly affect cats, some of which are severe and difficult to take care of and some of which are mild and easy to treat.

Here are some of the most common feline health problems, along with tips on how to treat them and prevent them from occurring in the first place.


Fleas are extremely common in cats of all ages, especially cats that are allowed outside or cats that live in households with other cats and dogs. Fleas can multiply quickly and will live off of your cat, causing him great pain and discomfort.

Fleas can also cause more serious problems in a cat, such as:

  • allergies
  • anemia
  • skin infections
  • tapeworms.

Fleas can be treated, but they are difficult to do away with completely. They are quite resilient. Cat owners can use a number of products to kill fleas, including:

  • flea combs (used to remove fleas from the cat)
  • flea collars (it can also be helpful to break up flea collars and put them in your vacuum bag)
  • flea fogs (for the whole house)
  • flea shampoos
  • flea sprays.

To prevent fleas from attacking your cat, use monthly prevention treatments, such as FRONTLINE or Advantage, on your cat. These treatments are simple to use and are well-tolerated by cats. Owners simply pour a small amount of fluid on the skin in between the shoulders of the cat.

Ear Mites

Ear mites are parasites that attack the ears of a cat. Owners can tell when ear mites are present by monitoring their cats. The following are ear mite indicators:

  • frequent pawing of the ears
  • frequent shaking of the head
  • waxy, brown spotted buildup inside the ears.

Ear mites are not a serious condition in most cases and can be treated with ear medication that is inserted into the ears by the pet owner. However, left untreated, ear mites can cause deafness in cats, so it’s important for owners to keep an eye on their cat’s ears.

Feline Leukemia

Feline leukemia is a very serious viral disease that is spread from cat to cat, usually through saliva or nasal discharge. Feline leukemia can cause:

  • bone marrow disorders
  • disorders of the immune system
  • formation of tumors.

Most cases of feline leukemia are fatal within about two years.

While treatment can usually only address secondary problems that are caused by the disease, getting your cat vaccinated regularly for feline leukemia can prevent the disease.

Feline Panleukopenia

Feline panleuopenia, also known as feline distemper, is another very serious viral disease that is spread from cat to cat. Younger cats may not survive the disease, which can cause:

  • depression
  • fever
  • severe diarrhea
  • vomiting.

Feline panleukopenia can live on many objects and is difficult to kill. While there is no cure for the virus, treatment generally aims to lessen the severity of symptoms caused by the disease.

Luckily, pet owners can have their cats vaccinated regularly against feline panleukopenia, which can prevent them from ever getting the disease.

Urinary Problems

Especially in male cats, urinary problems can occur that block a cat’s system completely and can cause death. If your cat is having trouble urinating, has blood in his urine or seems to be straining, see your veterinarian immediately.

A veterinarian can unblock a cat’s system using a complex procedure. The cat will then need to be on a special diet for the rest of his life.

To prevent urinary problems from occurring, talk to your veterinarian about food types he recommends that do not contribute to urinary problems in cats.