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Cats + Infectious Diseases

  • Feline calicivirus is a virus that is an important cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats. The typical clinical signs of an upper respiratory infection involve the nose and throat such as sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, and discharge from the nose or eyes. Cats with a calicivirus infection often develop ulcers on the tongue, hard palate, gums, lips, or nose. Calicivirus is highly contagious and infected cats can shed the virus in saliva or secretions from the nose or eyes. The standard core vaccines that are given to cats include immunization against calicivirus and will help reduce the severity of disease and shorten the length of the illness if your cat is exposed.

  • Feline hemotrophic mycoplasmosis (FHM) can be a life-threatening condition from a bacteria that acts as a parasite on red blood cells. The anemia experienced by a cat may be mild and may not cause any obvious signs. Many cases of FHM infection in cats go undetected. If many red blood cells are destroyed, symptomatic anemia occurs. The mucous membranes, readily observed in the conjunctival lining of the eyes and the gums, will be pale to white. Diagnosis can be difficult in some cases and while treatment is available, the prognosis is variable. Antibiotics will be prescribed but may not clear the organism completely if the full course of antibiotics is not given.

  • This handout provides information on Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in cats. Included is information on how the disease is transmitted, the clinical signs, the recommendations for isolation of the infected cats, and potential treatment guidelines should your cat be infected with this virus.

  • FIP is associated with a viral infection called feline coronavirus. There are many different strains of feline coronavirus, which differ in their ability to cause disease. Feline enteric coronavirus strains can mutate to the more harmful type of virus and cause FIP disease. Many of the clinical signs of FIP are vague and occur with other diseases found in cats. Most cats will develop the wet or effusive form of FIP, which refers to the accumulation of fluid in body cavities; fluid may accumulate in the abdomen. Unfortunately there are no laboratory tests available that can distinguish between the enteric coronavirus and the FIP-causing strains. FIP is fatal in almost all cases. Supportive treatments may extend longevity and improve quality of life, however, there is no specific cure. If your cat has FIP, other cats in your household may be at a greater risk for becoming infected with feline coronavirus.

  • Feline leukemia virus is a virus that infects cats and can cause a variety of diseases in addition to leukemia. It suppresses the immune system and makes cats susceptible to infections and disease, including causing cancers. It is transmitted between cats through the exchange of bodily fluids, although usually an extended period of contact is necessary. It is easy to diagnose, but there is no cure for it. There is a vaccine available that is recommended based on a cat's lifestyle and risk factors.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is a virus that infects only cats. It depresses the immune system and cats tend to remain infected for life. FeLV vaccines have been available for many years and have been continuously improved upon. They are helpful in preventing infection with FeLV and, therefore, in controlling FeLV-related disease. Your veterinarian can discuss the pros and cons of vaccinating your cat against this disease based on her specific lifestyle and risk of exposure.

  • The term panleukopenia means a decrease in the number of all of the white blood cells in the body. Feline panleukopenia virus is present in all excretions, particularly the feces, of infected cats. Cats typically experience depression or listlessness which may progress to collapse. Vomiting and diarrhea are frequent and the diarrhea may contain blood. Dehydration and secondary infections can easily occur. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but are helpful in controlling the secondary bacterial infections that commonly occur. Vaccination is important to protect cats from this destructive virus.

  • Feline upper respiratory infection (URI) is one term for a respiratory infection caused by one or more viral or bacterial agents. Synonyms for this condition include feline infectious respiratory disease and feline upper respiratory disease complex (URD).

  • Usually caused by a bite from another cat, fight wound infections can lead to the development of an abscess (a pocket of pus) or cellulitis (pain and swelling in the area of the bite). A cat’s sharp canine teeth can easily puncture the skin of another cat, leaving small, deep, wounds that seal over quickly, so it is important that your cat is seen by a veterinarian for treatment as soon as possible after being bitten.

  • Flea and tick prevention consists of a variety of products used to control flea and/or tick infestations on your pet and to prevent infestations inside the home. Fleas and ticks can be found worldwide. Fleas can live in many climate zones, but they prefer humid and shady areas, such as under leaf litter. Ticks can also live in many climate zones, and prefer humid and shady environments, especially areas with woods, shrubs, weeds, and tall grasses. Prevention is key to avoid infestations in your home, severe allergic reactions (in both pets and people), and to prevent disease. Many flea and tick preventives are available. Your veterinarian will help you find an appropriate product that works best for your and your pet.