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How To Keep Your Cat Healthy - Your Guide to Cat Diseases and Conditions, and How to Cure Them


Even with the best care, cats can become ill. Sometimes this means a simple "kitty cold," at other times the disease might have a more lasting or even fatal result. The following are some of the more common causes of serious illness in cats.

An upper respiratory infection (URI) is the medical term for what many cat lovers call a "kitty cold." Indeed, the symptoms match those of a human cold, sneezing and discharge from the nose. While they seem similar, the human and cat version of this infection are different, and one species cannot be infected by the other. However, URI is highly contagious among cats. If you have a multi-cat household and notice URI symptoms, isolate the cat immediately.

The best treatment for URI is time and loving care. Use a warm, moist cloth to keep your cat's eyes and nose free of discharge. You might need to warm her food to enhance the smell to encourage your cat to eat.

URI symptoms, which include a decreased appetite, can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks. Watch your cat carefully; not eating or drinking can lead to dehydration. Also, if your cat becomes extremely lethargic, it may mean the URI has turned into something more serious.

The symptoms of URI may last a few days to several weeks. Cats with URI may also be lethargic and have a decreased appetite. Monitor the cat carefully; a growing lack of appetite and fever can lead to dehydration. Not eating can lead to liver problems. Lethargy can mean a minor URI has become a more serious problem, such as pneumonia. If you notice this occurring, or if the discharge becomes very thick and yellowish-green, contact your veterinarian. Severe URIs may need to be treated with antibiotics.

Chlamydia is a type of bacteria that has many variations. Usually, each variant is species specific; feline Chlamydia is not transmitted to humans. In cats, the bacteria usually infects the eye, causing conjunctivitis. Chlamydia can be treated with antibiotics.

Symptoms of Feline Chlamydia

* Anorexia (loss of appetite; may occur as the disease progresses)

* Coughing

* Difficulty breathing

* Fever (may occur as the disease progresses)

* Pneumonia (in young kittens 2 to 4 weeks old, which could be fatal)

* Runny nose (rhinitis)

* Sneezing

* Watery eyes due to conjunctivitis (either one or both eyes)

Panleukopenia is a condition in which a cat's white blood cell count drops dramatically. Since white blood cells are vital to the cat's defense against disease, this condition leaves cats vulnerable to deadly infections. The virus is transmitted via body secretions. Feces are particularly common transmitters. It can be carried in water or on shoes.

Panleukopenia is often referred to as a number of different terms, such as

* Panleukopenia (often shortened to "Panleuk" in verbal discussion)

* FPV (Feline Panleukopenia Virus OR Feline Parvo Virus)

* FP (Feline Panleukopenia)

* Feline Distemper

* Feline Infectious Enteritis

* Feline Infectious Gastroenteritis

* Feline Agranulocytosis

* Cat Plague

* Cat fever

* Show fever

* Psuedomembranous Enteritis

* Maladie du jeune chat

* Feline Typhus

* Feline Tyfoid

* Colibacillosis

* Agranulocytosis

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) causes a variety of diseases, one of which is leukemia, or cancer of the white blood cells. Infected cats often appear healthy in the early stages of the disease. The illness may take months or years to cause death. For a long time, FeLV was the most fatal disease among cats. Today, although vaccinations are available to protect cats from this disease, it continues to be a leading cause of death, as there is no treatment.

FeLV is usually transmitted through cat fighting with each other. Because large quantities of the FeLV are shed in puncture wounds and cat saliva associated with fighting result in the injection of PeLV into other cats. Other less frequent routes of viral spread include sharing food and water bowls, cats grooming each other, and transmission from mother to kittens before birth.

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