You would do anything to ensure the health and safety of your cats. You provide them with food, shelter and unconditional love, but are you aware of the five most dangerous diseases that affect many cats, both domesticated and stray? At BluePearl Veterinary Partners we believe that education is key in preventing the spread of harmful cat diseases. We want all families with cats to know what diseases are out there and what they should do to keep their cats as protected as possible.
Feline Leukemia Virus
Feline leukemia is a serious, chronic condition that affects cats of all ages. The disease is spread between cats through exposure to nose discharge, urine and saliva. Cats who share food bowls or live with other cats who are infected with the virus are more likely to catch feline leukemia. It is also common for outdoor cats to be exposed when they are bitten during cat fights. Kittens are highly susceptible to feline leukemia and can even contract the disease directly from their mothers. Feline leukemia can cause many conditions, including
- Systemic infections
- Skin infections
- Bladder infections
There is no cure for this disease, but it is easy to prevent. Keeping your cat up to date on vaccinations and limiting exposure to other cats can significantly reduce the risk.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Similar to HIV in people, FIV is a terminal disease that has no cure. It is mostly spread through bite wounds, with outdoor cats being the most susceptible. Once a cat is infected with FIV, the virus can remain dormant until it progresses into the full-blown disease. There is a vaccination against FIV, which is effective in preventing the disease 60 to 80 percent of cats who receive three doses of the vaccine after eight weeks of age.
Kidney Disease and Renal Failure
Renal failure caused by kidney disease is one of the biggest killers of older cats. This incurable disease can be caused by genetics, age or even environmental factors, such as the ingestion of antifreeze. Some of the symptoms of this condition include
- Increased thirst and urination
- Weight loss
- A grinding sound in the jaw
- Halitosis, foul-smelling breath
If your cat displays any of these symptoms, your veterinarian can test your cat’s urine to determine if kidney disease is to blame.
Feline distemper, otherwise known as feline panleukopenia, is a viral disease that is highly contagious. It is easy spread through feces, fleas or bodily fluids. It attacks the intestinal tract and the immune system. This condition is diagnosed through testing blood and fecal material. Because feline distemper can be fatal within one day of infection, it is vitally important tp start treatment immediately.
Unlike the above-mentioned diseases, which cannot be transmitted to people, feline rabies is spread through bites from wild animals and can be transmitted from cats to humans. Feline rabies assaults the nervous system and causes strange behavior and severe illness.
Preventing Cat Diseases
Two ways to ensure your cat is protected against these deadly diseases are to keep your cat indoors – studies show indorr cats live far longer on average than cats allowed to go outdoors — and to provide vaccinations as recommended by your veterinarian. Contact your family veterinarian for more tips on how you can help your kitty live a long and healthy life.