You got a cat, should you bring her to the vet for vaccination and maybe a checkup? Yes, you should, there are many common diseases in cats that you will want to look for and be aware of as you learn to take care of your fluffy friend. Being prepared for feline disease is half the battle!

Here are some common diseases in cats:

Common Diseases in Cats

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASCPA), there are an assortment of both preventable and non-preventable conditions as categorized by veterinarians in the United States. Here is a list of common diseases in cats:

  • Rabies
  • High-Rise Syndrome
  • Ringworm
  • Worms
  • Upper Respiratory Infections
  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
  • Diabetes
  • Heartworm


If you thought that only possums and Old Yeller could get rabies, you are incorrect. Cats can get rabies too. All that has to happen is another animal that is infected with rabies has to bite your cat. Rabies is a viral infection that there is no vaccine or cure for. If you believe that your cat has rabies get them to the vet as soon as possible. Your cat will be treated with antibiotics and quarantined for about a month.

Unfortunately, the only way to prevent rabies is to keep your cat indoors. If your cat does go out, it is unlikely that he will contract rabies, but it is something that you should be on the lookout for with an outdoor cat.

High-Rise Syndrome

High-rise syndrome is not any type of communicable disease. It is a common condition for house cats and should be mentioned since it is easily prevented. This problem occurs when a cat has fallen from an open window or door. In the warmer months of the year, people open windows and doors and cats fall out. This results in broken bones, punctured organs, and even death at times. Make sure your cat is safe when it is warm out, and you open up the house.


Ringworm is not actually a worm it is a fungus. Most animals can get ringworm on their skin. It is called ringworm because of the ring-shaped lesion it leaves on your skin. It is common for ringworm to be in infected hair or skin cells. All you, a cat, a dog, or other animal need to get ringworm is to come into contact with the fungus. Ringworm is usually worse in humid environments and can spread quickly in crowded areas.

Your cat won’t likely display symptoms if they have ringworm. If your cat does have ringworm, you will have to shampoo all of the pets in the home, clean all bedding materials, and toys repeatedly for up to six months to eradicate the infection.


There are a handful of different types of worms that your cat can become diseased with. The min trick to worms is to make sure your cat receives timely treatments for fleas, ticks, and worms. Fleas can carry worm eggs as well as larger animals. If you have small children, roundworms can be particularly dangerous, causing blindness and other problems if infected.

Symptoms that your cat might have worms include coughing, weight loss, worms in stool, diarrhea, trouble breathing. Your vet will recommend a dewormer. Keep in mind that not all dewormers will take care of all worms. Also, canine dewormers may not always work on cats. Use the medicine that your vet recommended or gave you.

Upper Respiratory Infections

Most cat colds can be vaccinated for. You can have your cat vaccinated for the cat flu, chlamydia, bordetella, feline herpes, feline parvovirus, FeLV, feline calicivirus, and feline panleukopenia virus. Most of these, with the exception of FeLV, directly cause upper respiratory disease as well as other problems in cats. Many of these diseases are common and can spread fast in shelters and kennels. It is best to have your cat vaccinated at a young age so that they will not have to deal with the complications of any of these problems.

The symptoms of upper respiratory disease look the same for cats as it down in humans. Symptoms include coughing, congestion, sneezing, nasal blockage, fever, malaise, irritated eyes, and depression. If your cat does come down with one of the above-listed diseases, your vet will recommend medication, isolation, rest, and lots of fluids.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

FeLV attacks your cat’s immune system. This is another preventable disease. You can prevent it with vaccination. The symptoms for this disease include fever, jaundice, lethargy, seizures, vision problems, weight loss, poor coat condition, and more. If your cat is diagnosed with FeLV, you will likely need to isolate him or her for the remainder of their lives. The cat should remain indoors, be fed a balanced diet, and cared for well. There is no cure, but you can make your cat as comfortable as possible while they are with you.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV is similar to FeLV. FIV positive cats tend to get sick more often than cats that are FIV free. IF your cat has FIV, you should plan to take him to the vet at least twice a year and be vigilant about flea and worm treatments. An FIV positive cat is less able to fight off secondary infections like parasites than other cats. You should keep your cat away from other cats, so they don’t become infected. There is no cure for FIV.


Cats can have both type I and type II diabetes. Signs that your cat might have diabetes include lethargy, UTIs, sweet breath, urinating outside of the litter box, weight loss, and extreme thirst. Your cat can get diabetes for a number of reasons. It could have to do with genetics, diet, protein deposits in the pancreas, and males are more likely to get it than females.

If you think your cat may have diabetes, bring her to the vet. Your vet will be able to diagnose the level of intervention your cat needs and stabilize them depending on how bad the symptoms are. Some cats will need to have insulin injections, and others will have to be put on a strict diet.

Heartworm is a

Heartworm is primarily spread by mosquitoes. People don’t usually associate heartworm with cats, but they are still a problem for them. Cats with heartworm can experience sporadic vomiting, loss of appetite, cough, trouble breathing, and sudden death.

There are medications that you can give your cat to prevent heartworm infection. Most cats are able to fight off the infection on their own, and there is no cure for feline heartworm. Your vet may give you medicine to help with coughing and vomiting and tell you to make sure your cat gets plenty of rest.

What if I Think My Cat Is Sick?

If you think that your cat may be sick, it is always best to err on the side of caution and give your vet a call. There could be something seriously wrong or nothing at all. Keep your cat up to date on vaccinations so that he doesn’t come down with any of the preventable common diseases in cats. Keep your cat safe and have them checked out if you have to board them in place with other cats for a period of time.