Common Cat Health Problems: Part One

Published on March 7, 2019 by

Veterinarian and cat examining cat health problems.There are a lot of reasons your pet may not feel well or not being their perky self. The issue may be one of the common health problems that afflict cats. If your cat doesn’t have any energy, is lethargic, isn’t eating, is experiencing digestive upsets, or seems to be in pain, it’s time to schedule an appointment for your cat with your veterinarian.

What Causes Cat Health Problems?

Some of the most common health problems in cats are caused by bacteria or germs. Parasites are often present in feces. When a cat steps on fecal matter, they may contract a disease  infected with the parasites.

Feral Cats and Disease

In neighborhoods with feral cats, there’s often a higher rate of infectious diseases due to the large numbers of cats. It’s essential for cat owners to take their pets to the veterinarian for regular check-ups. Ignoring symptoms or unusual behavior could result in your cat developing a severe or even life-threatening medical condition.

Common Cat Health Problems and How Veterinarians Treat Them

Cats may see their veterinary technician for these conditions including bad breath, bad teeth, bladder infections, diabetes mellitus, diarrhea and feline lower urinary tract disease.

Cat Health Problem #1 – Bad Breath

Bad breath in cats is most commonly caused by periodontal disease. When there’s a build-up of plaque bacteria in a cat’s mouth, it can cause a foul odor. Cat breeds that have flat faces and short noses like Persians and Himalayans are more susceptible to diseases of the teeth and mouth because their teeth are so close together.

A variety of medical conditions can cause bad breath in cats and include Feline Diabetes, inflammation of the sinuses or nasal passages, or digestive problems. Viral or bacterial infections and swelling of the tonsils may also be the cause of a foul odor in a cat’s mouth. If bad breath isn’t caused by disease, your veterinarian may have a veterinary technician do a professional cleaning.

Cat Health Problem #2 – Bad Teeth

Bad teeth in cats is a problem with the majority of cats by the time they reach the age of three. Here are the ways to tell if your cat may have a bad tooth:

To prevent dental disease in your cat, you can start brushing your cat’s teeth with feline toothpaste, offer dental chews as a treat, and put additives in their drinking water that prevent tartar build-up. Your veterinarian and veterinary technician should examine your cat’s teeth during the wellness exam.

Cat Health Problem #3 – Diabetes

Diabetes is common in cats. Although older male cats seem to be more susceptible, cats of any age may develop diabetes. When diagnosed early, cats can live for many years with the disease. When it’s under control, some may not need medication, but frequent veterinary examinations are recommended.

The most common symptoms of feline diabetes are frequent urination and excessive thirst. A cat with diabetes may have an increased appetite or suddenly start losing weight. A diabetic cat may be lethargic and sleep more than usual.

Weight management is a primary to manage diabetes in cats. Cats should get enough exercise and maintain a healthy weight to keep blood glucose levels under control. A cat can be encouraged to exercise by providing plenty of toys to play with. Insulin injections and diet changes can manage diabetes in cats.

Cat Health Problem #4 – Diarrhea

Diarrhea in cats can be a symptom of a serious condition. Watery stools and increased fecal matter are symptoms of a problem with the cat’s intestinal tract. Acute diarrhea lasts less than two weeks. However, chronic diarrhea lasts longer. Several medical conditions can cause cats to have diarrhea, including:

Cats may be lethargic, dehydrated, lose weight, and refuse to eat. Your veterinarian will test your cat to determine the cause. Your veterinary technician may educate you on how to treat your pet.

Cat Health Problem #5 – Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease is a term used to describe several medical conditions with the urethra and bladder in cats. When a cat develops FLUTD, it may urinate outside its litter box or lick itself excessively. A cat may experience pain or difficulty when urinating, and there may be blood in the urine.

Although a cat may develop a FLUTD at any age, the condition is more common in older cats. The disease tends to be more common in cats that eat dry food. Some other symptoms that requires immediate veterinary attention are:

Urinary Obstructions

Obstruction of the urethra require immediate medical attention. An obstruction is more common in male cats. A FLUTD can be diagnosed with blood work, urine tests, or x-rays. A FLUTD is sometimes difficult to diagnose because it has a lot of different causes.

Urinary Stones

Stones may require a special diet to dissolve the stones or in more severe cases, a surgical procedure to remove them. Urinary stones and diabetes are leading causes of cats that develop urinary tract infections (UTI). UTIs are more common in senior cats.

Urinary Infections

Although cats of any age can develop a urinary infection, a cat that’s older and overweight cats have the highest risk for developing a disease. The treatment prescribed depends on how severe the infection is and the type of organism causing the infection.


Hairballs are a common cause of constipation in cats. When fur gets into the cat’s digestive tract, it mixes with the digested food. If the cat doesn’t bring up the hairball, it passes through the intestinal tract and causes constipation.

Stay tuned for our second part of this blog series, in which we will cover three more major cat health problems. We will also address the top issues you should look out for in your cats health in youth and their senior years.

Want to Learn More?

Did learning about the most common cat health problems interest you? Ready to start a program to become a veterinary technician? With an associate degree in veterinary technology, you’ll gain the knowledge and skills you need to start an entry-level career as a veterinary technician. Broadview University has been part of the community for more than 40 years, so we’ve developed connections that can help move your career forward. After completing our accredited degree program, you’ll be eligible to sit for the Veterinary Technician National Exam (VTNE). Passing the VTNE allows you to become a Certified Veterinary Technician (CVT), a designation that will give you a competitive advantage when you enter the job market.

Contact us today to learn more about becoming a veterinary technician and working in veterinary technology.

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