Cat Health: Diseases

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As cat owners and people who care deeply for animals and wildlife, we wanted our Cat Encyclopedia to be a website that could empower pet owners to create the most positive, loving environment for their cats. Cat Encyclopedia realizes that owning a house cat is like adding a new member to your family.

Domestic house cats are tough animals that often survive even serious injuries, but they seem to have less resistance when it comes to viral infections. Feline distemper, which is not related to canine distemper is probably the worst of all cat diseases. This deadly disease is also called cat plague, feline enteritis, and panleukopenia. A quick acting disease, Feline enteritis is an inflammation of the pharynx and digestive tract. The highly infectious virus can be found in all the elimination of a sick cat. Once spread in the vicinity, this virus will remain infectious for months. Kittens are particularly susceptible to the disease. Without medical attention the fatality rate among affected cats is 80- 90%.The first symptom is a very high fever, followed by depressed behavior, loss of appetite, vomiting, and a desire to drink but an inability to do so. Diarrhea is not always present. Rapid dehydration sets in followed by coma and death.

Feline leukemia is a cancerous disease caused by feline leukemia virus (FeLV). Cats may not start to show signs of disease for months or years after being infected with FeLV. Infection with FeLV is a major cause of illness and death in domestic house cats. It is estimated that 1-2% of otherwise healthy house cats are infected with FeLV. Males are more commonly infected than females, and cats with access to the outdoors are more at risk of becoming infected than indoor cats. Kittens are much more susceptible to FeLV infection than adult cats. Age is a very important factor in determining what will happen after a cat is exposed to FeLV. Almost all FeLV-exposed kittens less than 8 weeks of age will  show signs of the disease during the acute phase, and become permanently infected.
 
Urinary tract infections are another common health problem in domestic house cats. Bladder diseases occur in both male and female cats, although males have a higher risk of life-threatening blockage of the urethra.  House cats may go to the litter box frequently, strain to urinate, pass very small amounts at a time, lick their genitals more frequently or more intensely than usual, or have blood in the urine. The cat may associate the burning sensation of cystitis (bladder inflammation) with the litter box itself, and look for another place to go where it won't hurt. This leads to squatting in corners, in sinks or tubs, on rugs, laundry piles, or beds. Immediate medical attention is required!

Rabies: All mammals can get rabies, and the bite of an infected animal is dangerous. Once infected the cat may show signs of huge alteration in appetite, voice and be very aggressive. An inability to drink gives rabies its other name, hydrophobia - fear of water. Other signs are, foaming at the mouth, swelling of the skull, jaw paralysis and disorientation.
sad domestic house cat at House Cats Central cat disease chart on house cats central kittens are high risk for many cat diseases
     



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Advocacy:

You can improve the lives of outdoor cats with Trap-Neuter-Return, the humane and effective approach for feral cats. To successfully trap, neuter, vaccinate, eartip, and return feral cats, you need a plan. These guidelines for humane trapping from Alley Cat Allies, the organization that helped introduce TNR to the United States, will get you on your way!

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