Common illnesses in cats

We pride ourselves on our pet health knowledge and sharing this expertise with you. With the help of Petplan vet, Brian Faulkner, we've created a list of the top five illnesses that can affect cats to help you spot the signs should your cat fall ill.

1. Gastrointestinal Disease

Stomach upsets can leave your cat feeling weak and dangerously dehydrated. The most common signs of gastrointestinal disease in cats are vomiting, diarrhoea, reduced appetite, weight loss, straining to pass loose stools and constipation. Symptoms may occur suddenly or come on over a longer period - see a vet early to decrease the risk of a more serious illness developing.

2. Heart Disease

Cats can suffer from a specific kind of heart disease in which the heart muscles become thicker, meaning it cannot perform effectively. In the early stages, the symptoms may be a heart murmur or an abnormal heart rate or rhythm that would be found at a routine check-up. Difficulty in breathing is a key symptom of advanced disease.

3. Respiratory Problems (such as feline asthma)

Cats of all breeds and ages can suffer from asthma. Symptoms include coughing, which may occur in fits and starts and can be accompanied by wheezing (which may also occur with bronchitis). Other causes of respiratory problems - severe infections, poisoning, cancers and pleural space disease - will cause your cat to go off his or her food and become lethargic.

4. Kidney Disease and Cystitis

Kidney disease can result from trauma, poisoning, infection or a urinary condition. Symptoms include increased thirst, weight loss and passing more urine than usual. Cystitis causes the bladder to become inflamed, and symptoms include frequent, painful attempts to urinate with blood often found in the urine. In both cases, consult your vet.

5. Hyperthyroidism

A cat's thyroid glands are located in the neck and control his or her metabolism. Hyperthyroidism, where the glands become overactive, is a common hormonal problem in cats. Symptoms of the condition include increased appetite and weight loss - and left untreated can lead to heart failure. Your vet can advise you further on treatment.

To find out about common illnesses in many more breeds of cats and dogs, visit our new Pet Health Profile pages.

Do you have any experience with these illnesses? Let us know your story using the tag #PethoodStories