Common Illnesses & Symptoms In Cats

Common Illnesses & Symptoms In Cats

There are many illnesses and symptoms cats can get that worry their owners, some of the conditions can even be fatal if they go too long with out treatment. Today the Novato veterinarians talk about the signs and symptoms cat owners should keep an eye out for. 

What are some common cat illnesses?

There are many symptoms and illnesses all cat owners should know about and prepare for, they should also know when it's time to visit the veterinarian because cats will often shelter them selves and isolate when they are ill. 

In the following sections we have listed 3 conditions that are common in cats and the symptoms associated with each. 

Upper Respiratory Infections

Your cat's upper respiratory tract includes their throat, nose and sinuses, and these can get infected with viruses and bacteria.  Cats may contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus which is generally passed around in multi-cat households and shelters and can spread easily when cats share a food or water bowl. 

These viruses can also be transmitted easily to other cats by sneezing, coughing and through grooming. 

Symptoms include:

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


If a cat doesn't produce enough insulin to their balance blood sugar or glucose levels, they can develop diabetes mellitus. If this is left untreated, it can lead to some serious symptoms, including:

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

If diabetes is controlled poorly, it can shorten a cat's lifespan and lead to various health problems including nerve disorders. It could also result in severe emergency situations. Their treatment plan will be focused on managing this condition and may possibly include insulin injections. 


Cancer develops when there is an uncontrolled growth of cells, this can impact a wide range of organs and cells in a cat's body. The disease will first start to develop within a cell, before it attaches to tissues below the skin, potentially spreading to other areas. 

Feline Leukemia Virus is a common contributor to cancer, environmental toxins are also another cause. If the cancer is found early during a physical exam, your veterinarian may be able to treat it. 

Symptoms include:

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

Depending on whether the tumor is caught and diagnosed early enough, the type of cancer and its extent, it's specific location within the body and other factors can determine if your vet will be able to develop a treatment plan. Some of the treatment options can include radiation, surgery and chemotherapy.

What should I do if my cat is sick?

If your cat is ill and showing any of the symptoms stated above, it's essential to bring them to your vet as fast as possible. At South Novato Animal Hospital, we have an in-house laboratory and onsite pharmacy to give your pet the care they require.

If you believe your cat is sick schedule an appointment with one of our talented vets at South Novato Animal Hospital they are experienced in diagnosing and treating many of illnesses and conditions that are common in cats.