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What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

Several cat illnesses and their symptoms can be concerning, or may even prove fatal if left untreated for too long. Our Baltimore vets offer advice about symptoms to watch for. 

What are common cat illnesses?

There are a number of illnesses every cat parents should be aware of. If necessary, be prepared to visit your veterinarian, especially since cats tend to isolate out of instinct when sick. Here are 3 common cat illnesses and symptoms to remember: 


If a cat's body is unable to produce enough insulin to balance glucose levels or blood sugar, they develop diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, this condition can lead to several serious symptoms, including: 

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

Poorly managed diabetes can shorten a cat's lifespan and result in numerous health complications such as nerve disorders. It may also lead to severe emergency situations and subsequent visits to the vet. Treatment may include insulin injections. Controlling the condition is key to helping your cat live a long, happy life with diabetes. 

Upper Respiratory Infections

Your cat's sinuses, nose and throat - also known as their upper respiratory tract - can be infected with bacteria and viruses. Often transmitted in multi-cat shelters and households, cats can get feline calicivirus and feline herpesvirus through something basic as sharing a water or food bowl. 

This virus can then be passed to other cats in the same way, or during grooming. It can also be passed through sneezing or coughing. 

Symptoms include: 

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


Cancer can be caused by uncontrolled growth of cells, which may impact a number of organs and cells in a cat's body. The disease first begins to develop within a cell, before attaching to tissue underneath the skin and potentially spreading to other areas of the body. 

Feline Leukemia Virus is a common contributor to cancer in cats. Other causes include environmental toxins. If detected early during a physical exam, your vet may be able to treat the cancer. 

Symptoms include:

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

Prognosis can vary depending on whether your vet detects and diagnoses the tumor early enough, the specific location and type of cancer, the extent of the cancer present, etc. An effective treatment plan may include surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. At Falls Road Animal Hospital, our vets perform a number of soft tissue surgeries, including oncological procedures. We can help you fully understand your pet's diagnosis and our surgery recommendation. We can address any questions or concerns you may have, and ensure you are comfortable moving ahead.  

What should I do if my cat is sick?

If your cat is ill and displaying any symptoms listed above, it's important to bring them to the vet as soon as possible. At Falls Road Animal Hospital, we have an onsite pharmacy, in-house laboratory and 24-hour emergency care to provide your pet the care they need.

Do you suspect your cat is sick? Our vets have experience in diagnosing and treating many common illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at Falls Road Animal Hospital today.

Caring for Pets in Baltimore

Falls Road Animal Hospital accepts new clients to our specialty services and 24/7 emergency services.

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Contact (410) 825-9100