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Common Cat Health Problems

Many people believe that cats are hearty, low-maintenance pets who donít need much attention and rarely fall ill. As all cat owners know, thatís not necessarily true.

While some cats do have fiercely independent natures, others crave attention and want nothing more than to sit on their ownersí laps and purr.

And, of course, cats do get sick. In fact, there are some illnesses and health quirks which are quite common among felines.


Most cat parents have heard the hacking coughs of what is perhaps the most common cat malady in the world. Hairballs are nothing more than balls of excessive fur which build up in a catís stomach over time. They can usually be passed easily and without posing any serious risks.


Cats are at risk for all types of worms, including ringworms, roundworms and tapeworms. If your cat has worms, you may be at risk as well, so consult your vet right away.

Plant Poisoning

Cats are curious by nature, especially when it comes to those green, leafy things growing in your house. Unfortunately for them, their love affairs with plants are often one-sided.

There are countless types of plants which can cause severe health problems in cats. You can find an extensive list on the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Web site at, or your veterinarian may be able to provide you with a list.

Urinary Tract Infections

These infections are most common in male felines that have not been neutered, but females can also contract UTIs. If your catís urine has developed a strong odor or she suddenly stops using the litter box, she may have a urinary tract infection. Sometimes, cats may also develop stones in the urinary tract, a sign of lower urinary tract disease.

Digestive Troubles

While vomiting is never a normal occurrence in a healthy animal, it can be quite dangerous for cats. If your cat has been vomiting for more than 24 hours, take her to the vet immediately, as vomiting can be a sign of many more serious illnesses.

If your cat has just begun to vomit, withhold her food for a few hours. Once her stomach seems to have settled, slowly reintroduce water only. If she tolerates the water, you may begin to gradually reintroduce her food.

Viral Infections

There are several well-known viral infections which plague the cat population. One of the most feared is the feline leukemia virus, but most cats are immunized against this disease as kittens.

Cat owners also need to be concerned with feline immunodeficiency virus. This disease targets the white blood cells and is sometimes referred to as ďfeline AIDS.Ē Feline infectious peritonitis is a virus which can be difficult to diagnose, and as with the feline immunodeficiency virus, there is no treatment or vaccination against it.

Viral infections such as these are seen much more often in outdoor cats than in felines who remain inside.

Other problems

Cats, like many other animals, sometimes come down with colds and mild respiratory infections. Outdoor cats are at the greatest risk for health problems, with fights often leading to bite wounds and injured eyes and ears. But with regular veterinary care, your cat should live a long and healthy life.

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