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Pet Health

Cat Breed Health Facts and Advice

Cats are fascinating animals and fantastic companions. But just like us, they can fall ill, with many problems needing long-term veterinary care.

In this section, you can find out more about specific cat breeds and the illnesses they may face with our interactive pet profiles.

To ensure your pet receives the best possible care in the case an emergency, take a look at our cat insurance policy options to find a suitable cover for your pet.

Click on the hotspots below for illnesses seen in cats

Generic Cat

The joy of cats

Cats can be amazing companions.

In fact, owning one can actually be good for you – studies have shown that stroking our feline friends lowers stress levels, making cat owners 30 percent less likely to die from a heart attack.

Respiratory tract disorders

The respiratory tract is divided into the upper (the nose, nasal passages and windpipe) and lower (small airways and lungs) sections. Cats can suffer from cat flu, which affects the upper respiratory tract and causes sneezing and a nasal discharge. It is an incurable viral condition, but it is easily prevented by vaccination and the symptoms can be managed. Cats can also be affected by a lower respiratory tract problem known as feline asthma, which occurs when allergies and irritants cause the lower airways (bronchi) and lungs to become inflamed and sensitive. Symptoms include coughing and wheezing. While many respiratory tract disorders are not curable, they can be managed with various long-term medications, including tablets, injections and even inhalers.

Fact

We paid £3,484 to treat Frodo the Main Coon cat for a respiratory system disorder in 2015

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Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism is one of a number of hormonal disorders that can affect cats. It occurs when the thyroid glands, which are located in the neck, produce too much thyroid hormone. This most commonly occurs as a result of a benign (non-cancerous) tumour of the thyroid gland, although a cancerous tumour known as a thyroid adenocarcinoma can also occur. Surgery, long-term medication, radioactive iodine therapy or diet changes can be used to effectively manage the condition, meaning the cat can live a normal and comfortable life.

Fact

Hyperthyroidism is the most common illness we see in cats

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Heart disease

Heart disease in cats refers to when the heart’s structures aren’t working as they should be. There are two categories of heart disease: congenital (meaning the cat is born with it) and acquired (meaning the disease develops later in life). Congenital heart diseases include defects in the wall of the heart, abnormal valves and blood vessels. All breeds of cat can experience heart problems, and the most common is called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, which can lead to heart failure. Whilst this condition is not curable, it can be treated with lifelong medication.

Fact

We paid £4,451 to treat Junior the crossbreed for heart disorders in 2015

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Gastrointestinal disorders

All cats can suffer from problems affecting the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. The GI tract is a long, winding tube that starts at the mouth and ends at the anus, with various twists and turns along the way. Conditions such as gastroenteritis caused by infections (like feline enteritis), poisoning or an obstruction within the bowel (due to the cat eating string for example) commonly cause vomiting and/or diarrhoea. Treatment depends on the exact cause, but prompt intervention usually results in a full recovery.

Fact

Gastrointestinal disorders are the second most common illnesses we see in cats

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Kidney disease and cystitis

Cats’ kidneys are responsible for filtering the waste products from their blood into their urine. Cats may be affected by kidney disease caused by infections, blockages, tumours or toxins (especially licking anti-freeze) as well as age related changes. Chronic kidney disease occurs when the kidney function deteriorates gradually over a period of time. Conditions that affect a cat’s bladder and urethra are collectively known as feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which is more commonly referred to as cystitis, and causes include stress, not urinating enough, infections and bladder stones or crystals. Cats diagnosed with cystitis will usually require pain relief, access to plenty of water, special diets and perhaps some help to reduce stress. Treatment of kidney disease depends on the cause and the extent of damage, but usually begins by flushing the kidneys using intravenous fluids, followed by special diets and medications. Unfortunately kidney disease is irreversible, but with the right support many cats can enjoy a reasonably normal life.

Fact

Cystitis is the most common urinary problem we see in cats

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Cat breeds

Find out more about your breed - More coming soon