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Cats + Infectious Diseases

  • Conjunctivitis is the medical term used to describe inflammation of the tissues surrounding the eye. Feline herpesvirus conjunctivitis a form of primary conjunctivitis caused by the highly infectious feline herpesvirus (FHV-1).

  • Cytauxzoonosis is often fatal disease spread to cats by the Lone Star tick. The disease can progress rapidly and treatments are only moderately effective. Tick control and use of preventives is the best method to prevent this disease from developing in cats.

  • Echinococcus multilocularis is a tapeworm species that is found in the Northern Hemisphere. Dogs, cats, and humans are all susceptible to E. multilocularis infection, along with additional species. While the parasite typically produces no clinical sign in cats, it can have life-threatening effects in humans. E. multilocularis is impossible to distinguish from other tapeworm species without specialized testing, but it responds to the same dewormers that are used to treat other tapeworm species. Therefore, pets suspected of having tapeworms should be treated promptly and care should be taken to avoid direct contact with animal feces.

  • Feline calicivirus is a virus that is an important cause of upper respiratory infections and oral disease in cats. The typical clinical signs of an upper respiratory infection involve the nose and throat such as sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis, and discharge from the nose or eyes. Cats with a calicivirus infection often develop ulcers on the tongue, hard palate, gums, lips, or nose. Calicivirus is highly contagious and infected cats can shed the virus in saliva or secretions from the nose or eyes. The standard core vaccines that are given to cats include immunization against calicivirus and will help reduce the severity of disease and shorten the length of the illness if your cat is exposed.

  • Feline hemotrophic mycoplasmosis (FHM) can be a life-threatening condition from a bacteria that acts as a parasite on red blood cells. The anemia experienced by a cat may be mild and may not cause any obvious signs. Many cases of FHM infection in cats go undetected. If many red blood cells are destroyed, symptomatic anemia occurs. The mucous membranes, readily observed in the conjunctival lining of the eyes and the gums, will be pale to white. Diagnosis can be difficult in some cases and while treatment is available, the prognosis is variable. Antibiotics will be prescribed but may not clear the organism completely if the full course of antibiotics is not given.

  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus specific to the cat family. It was first recognized in the mid 1980's and it has been found in cats worldwide. Although widespread, it is not a common infection in cats. Only 1-5% of cats show evidence of exposure to the virus. In some cats exposure to the virus leads to clinical signs and symptoms that result in deficiency in the immune system.

  • FIP is associated with a viral infection called feline coronavirus. There are many different strains of feline coronavirus, which differ in their ability to cause disease. Feline enteric coronavirus strains can mutate to the more harmful type of virus and cause FIP disease. Many of the clinical signs of FIP are vague and occur with other diseases found in cats. Most cats will develop the wet or effusive form of FIP, which refers to the accumulation of fluid in body cavities; fluid may accumulate in the abdomen. Unfortunately there are no laboratory tests available that can distinguish between the enteric coronavirus and the FIP-causing strains.

  • Feline leukemia virus is a virus that infects cats and can cause a variety of diseases in addition to leukemia. It suppresses the immune system and makes cats susceptible to infections and disease, including causing cancers. It is transmitted between cats through the exchange of bodily fluids, although usually an extended period of contact is necessary. It is easy to diagnose, but there is no cure for it. There is a vaccine available that is recommended based on a cat's lifestyle and risk factors.

  • The term panleukopenia means a decrease in the number of all of the white blood cells in the body. Feline panleukopenia virus is present in all excretions, particularly the feces, of infected cats. Cats typically experience depression or listlessness which may progress to collapse. Vomiting and diarrhea are frequent and the diarrhea may contain blood. Dehydration and secondary infections can easily occur. Antibiotics are ineffective against viruses, but are helpful in controlling the secondary bacterial infections that commonly occur. Vaccination is important to protect cats from this destructive virus.

  • Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. Recent studies of cats with heart and respiratory diseases have found an incidence of heartworms that is far greater than previously thought. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventives in areas where mosquitoes are active all year round.