May 31, 2023 3 min read

Cats can get sick and it’s important to be aware of the signs your cat may need medical attention. There are many diseases and infections cats can get. You should be aware of what diseases your cat could get, where the infections come from, and when to see a vet. While this is not a list of every disease, we’ve provided a good starting list of four common diseases and infections you should be on the lookout for so you can get help for your cat when they need it.


Just like people, cats can get various forms of cancer in their bodies. While cancer can be diagnosed in all types and ages of cats, it is more commonly diagnosed in older cats. Cats with white ears and hair are more susceptible to skin cancer. Keeping your cat indoors will protect their skin from too much sun exposure which can lead to skin cancers. Getting your cat spayed early can help prevent mammary cancer.

It’s important to be on the lookout for signs that your cat may have cancer. Common signs in cats include: lumps, swelling, persistent sores or skin infections, bad breath, lethargy, weight loss, decreased appetite, abnormal discharge from any part of the body, difficulty urinating or defecating, diarrhea or vomiting, or any abnormal change in behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your vet to get your cat checked out.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, is a highly contagious retrovirus that weakens a cat’s immune system and makes them highly susceptible to secondary infections. Cats commonly spread FIV through the saliva in bite wounds and scratches during fights. FIV-infected cats often do not show symptoms for several years, or may develop symptoms over time. To help prevent your cat from being exposed to FIV it’s best to keep them indoors, away from potentially infected cats. If you take them outside, be sure to keep them on a leash. FIV can sometimes be spread from a mother to her kitten, although this method is less common.

Be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of FIV: fever, anemia, weight loss, decreased appetite, swollen lymph nodes, diarrhea, inflammation of the eyes, mouth or gums, unkempt coat, hair loss, wounds that won’t heal, eye or nose discharge, frequent urination or straining to urinate, or any abnormal change in behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your vet to get your cat checked out.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is one of the most common causes of death in cats. The virus does not always manifest symptoms right away. FeLV weakens a cat’s immune system and predisposes cats to various infections and diseases, including anemia, kidney disease and lymphosarcoma. Young kittens, cats living with infected cats, cats who roam free outside, and kittens born to a FeLV positive mother, are most at risk for infection. It’s important to get any new cat entering your home tested to make sure they do not have the virus.

Some cats may be infected and show no signs. Others may show signs: loss of appetite and weight loss, pale or inflamed gums, poor coat condition, abscesses, fever, upper respiratory infections, diarrhea and vomiting, seizures, vision or eye problems, enlarged lymph nodes, reproductive problems (in females), jaundice, chronic skin disease, respiratory diseases, lethargy, or other abnormal changes in behavior. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your vet to get your cat checked out.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Upper Respiratory Infections (URI) in cats are similar to the common cold in humans. URI’s are one of the most common cat diseases and are highly contagious. They are transmitted by contact with saliva or discharge from the nose and eyes of infected cats. Keeping your cats indoors and away from potentially infected cats will help to prevent them from getting infected.

Lookout for common signs of infections: sneezing, congestion, runny nose, cough, clear to colored nasal discharge, gagging, drooling, fever, loss of or decreased appetite, rapid breathing, nasal or oral ulcers, squinting or rubbing eyes, open-mouth breathing, or depression. If you notice any of these symptoms, you should contact your vet to get your cat checked out.

You should contact your vet if you notice any changes in your cat’s behavior or appearance that seem abnormal or sickly. Make sure to keep all your pets up to date on vaccines. Get any new pet tested before bringing them into your home. Keeping cats indoors will help to keep them away from outdoor cats who are more likely to be infected.

Want more? Click here for more fun and helpful kitty content!

Having a Jolly Good Time?