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Common illnesses in cats

Common illnesses in cats

Here at Petplan, keeping pets healthy and happy is our number one priority. Many pet owners assume that injuries are the biggest risk their pet faces, but 90% of the claims Petplan receives are for illness rather than injury.

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.


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.


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.


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.


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.


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 below...

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My cat was diagnosed with IBD over 3 years ago. Symptoms were vomiting diarrhoea and a massive loss in weight. She had a week in the vets hospital for full diagnosis and she is and has been on specialGastrointestinal food since. She has regular B12 injections and although uncurable it is manageable and she has the occasional flare up of the disease which she is going through now. She is currently on meds to try and settle her. She is now 17 years old and still a very happy active pussy cat. I can't thank Pet Plan enough for the continued support. I can't recommend pet insurance enough. There is no doubt that she would not be here now if I weren't covered. If your cat has any ongoing symptoms of vomiting diarrhoea and a loss of weight don't take a chance that it will go away it could be IBD.
Cats especially kittens need very special care. I own a savannah cat and do take proper care of her vaccination
Jordan Walker
I agree with you,Michelle. Cats need very special care. I give my pet cat a nutritious food and take her to her vet at least once every three months and also a proper vaccination. This is to ensure that she will be free from any illnesses.

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