May 31, 2023 Cats

The Top Ten Cat Diseases and How to Recognize Them

A cat resting on a veterinary assistant's shoulder

The Top Ten Cat Diseases and How to Recognize Them

June is either Adopt a Cat Month or Adopt a Shelter Cat Month, depending on which animal welfare organization you ask. Either way, the month of June is dedicated to cats, and my weekly blogposts will be too. Today, I am going to talk about common cat diseases and how to recognize them.

The Top Ten Cat Diseases According to Insurance Data

Nationwide pet insurance has just released their annual list of top ten insurance claims for cats. To help you better understand these diseases and conditions, I’ve linked to entries in the Usdan Institute for Animal Health Education’s Pet Health Library, which contain detailed information on risk factors, signs, treatment, and prevention. Just click to read about the disease you are interested in.

  1. Chronic kidney disease
  2. Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
  3. Gastropathy (stomach inflammation)
  4. Enteropathy (intestinal inflammation)
  5. Hyperthyroid disease
  6. Dental disease (tooth infection, cavity, abscess)
  7. Diabetes mellitus
  8. Atopic or allergic dermatitis
  9. Upper respiratory infection
  10. Otitis externa

A cat diagnosed with any condition above would not surprise a veterinarian. At AMC, we see feline patients with the diseases on this list every day. But my skeptical readers would say, “This is only one data set, are you sure it is true?”

Research Corroborates the Insurance Data

The disease prevalence data listed above is similar to a study of feline health from primary care practices in the United Kingdom. Dental disease, skin conditions and hyperthyroidism topped the UK list, echoing the insurance data from the USA.

In an international, longitudinal study of cats headed by AMC’s Dr. Philip Fox, cancer, chronic kidney disease, heart disease and gastropathy/enteropathy were the top causes of death. This data, from over 1,500 cats in 21 countries, confirms the information about common cat diseases from Nationwide Insurance.

Clinical Signs All Cat Owners Should Know

Since June is Adopt a Cat Month, I hope many of my readers will be adding a feline member to their family. Now that we’ve established the most common cat diseases, I’ve compiled a short list of common clinical signs associated with those diseases that all cat owners – new and existing – should be aware of. Here’s what to watch for:

  1. Increased water drinking or urine output are common signs of kidney disease, hyperthyroidism and diabetes.
  2. Frequent trips to the litterbox may be signaling an episode of cystitis.
  3. Tell your veterinarian if your cat is vomiting. It may be gastropathy/enteropathy and not just a hairball.
  4. Weight loss occurs with nearly all the diseases on this list and should not be ignored.
  5. Itching, scabby skin or scratching at the ears requires a trip to the veterinarian.
  6. Sneezing, runny eyes and a runny nose are common signs of an upper respiratory infection.
Tags: adopt a cat month, cat diseases, cat month, cats,

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