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What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

What are some common cat illnesses & symptoms?

A number of cat illnesses and their symptoms might worry you. Some may even be fatal if left untreated. Our Santa Barbara veterinary team is here to offer insight to you on the signs and symptoms you should be aware of.

What are some common cat illnesses?

As a cat owner, the following are some of the illnesses you should be aware of in your feline companion. Be ready to visit a vet if required, especially since cats will often isolate themselves when sick. Here are 3 common cat illnesses and their symptoms.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Your cat's upper respiratory tract (their sinuses, nose and throat) can be infected with viruses or bacteria that are sometimes passed around in multi-cat households or shelters. Through something as simple as sharing a bowl of water, a cat may contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus.

They can transmit this virus to other cats the same way, or by sneezing or coughing. It can also be passed during grooming. 

Symptoms include:

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


If a cat doesn't produce sufficient insulin to balance blood sugar or glucose levels, they develop diabetes mellitus. Left untreated, it may lead to several serious symptoms, such as:

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

If diabetes is poorly controlled, the disease can shorten a cat's lifespan and lead to numerous health problems such as nerve disorders. It may also result in severe emergency situations. Treatment can include insulin injections and will be focused on managing this condition. 


Cancer can be caused by the uncontrolled growth of cells, which may affect a wide range of cells and organs in their body. This disease first begins to develop within a cell, before attaching to a tissue below the ksin and spreading to other areas. 

A common contributor to cancer is Feline Leukemia Virus, which cats can be diagnosed against. Other causes include environmental toxins. If caught early during a physical exam, your vet may be able to treat cancer. 

Symptoms include:

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

Depending on whether the tumor is caught and diagnosed early enough, the type of cancer and its extent, specific location within the body, etc., whether an effective treatment plan can be developed, and other factors, a number of treatments such as radiation, surgery and chemotherapy may be attempted. 

What should I do if my cat is ill?

If your cat is sick and exhibiting any of the symptoms listed above, it's critical to bring them to the vet as soon as possible. At San Roque Pet Hospital, we have an in-house laboratory, onsite pharmacy, and emergency clinic to provide your pet the care they need (help for after-hours emergencies is also available).

Do you suspect your cat is sick? Our vets are experienced in diagnosing and treating many common illnesses and conditions. Book an appointment at San Roque Pet Hospital today.

Welcoming Cats & Dogs to Our Animal Hospital 

San Roque Pet Hospital welcomes cats, dogs, and their people to our clinic! Our experienced vets are passionate about the health of Santa Barbara companion animals. Get in touch today to book your pet's appointment.

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