Feline Foes: Tackling the Most Common Cat Health Problems

Key Points

  • Your vet may need to perform skin or blood tests to determine allergens.

  • Regularly brushing your cat prevents hairballs, which sometimes lead to obstructions.

  • A sedentary lifestyle may lead to issues including obesity and diabetes.

As a cat owner, being proactive about your pet's health is crucial. Early detection of common cat health problems often prevents more severe issues down the line.

This comprehensive guide provides information about the most common cat health problems and their symptoms, diagnosis, treatment options, and prevention strategies. It also informs you of the complexities and solutions surrounding these issues, ultimately helping you maintain the health and happiness of your feline friend.

You want your companion around for as long as possible, so take measures to ensure that.


Allergies are difficult to determine. With so many potential contributing factors, finding the cause takes trial and error. Ask your vet about the need for any tests to pinpoint the culprit.

Identifying Common Allergens for Cats

Cats are allergic to a wide range of substances. Common allergens include food, environmental factors such as pollen, mold, dust mites, and even flea bites.

Identifying the exact allergen is a challenging task, but understanding the source is vital in providing effective treatment. Your veterinarian may need to conduct diagnostic tests to develop a targeted treatment plan.

Symptoms and Diagnosis Process

Signs of allergies in cats often manifest as skin issues, which include excessive scratching, redness, or hair loss. The cat may experience gastrointestinal symptoms like vomiting and diarrhea.

Pay close attention to your cat's behavior and take note of any abnormal patterns.

To diagnose the allergen, your vet may use skin or blood tests, strict elimination diets, or intradermal testing. History and the response to certain treatment options are also invaluable in the diagnostic process.

Treatment Options and Prevention Methods

Once you identify the allergy, the best course of action is to eliminate or minimize contact with the allergen. This might involve a change in diet or environment.

For more severe cases, your vet may prescribe medication such as corticosteroids, antihistamines, or immunosuppressive drugs. Using hypoallergenic cat products, improving indoor air quality, and grooming your cat regularly prevent allergies from worsening.

Dental Problems

Dental problems aren't just about teeth. These issues often lead to other health problems due to bacteria and infection.

Recognizing Early Signs of Dental Issues

Dental problems are prevalent among cats and sometimes lead to significant oral pain or tooth loss if left untreated. Signs of dental issues include bad breath, drooling, difficulty eating, or swollen gums.

Regularly check your cat's mouth for redness, bleeding, or abnormal swelling. As with any health issue, early detection is essential for successful treatment.

Ways To Maintain Optimal Feline Dental Health

Implementing proper dental hygiene practices significantly reduces your cat's risk of dental problems. Brush your cat's teeth regularly using fluoride-free toothpaste designed for cats. Introduce dental chews or toys that encourage chewing, which cleans their teeth and removes plaque.

Discover dental health tips for your cat to improve their longevity. Consult your veterinarian about dental health practices tailored to your cat's individual needs.

Professional Treatment Options and When To Seek Veterinary Assistance

If you notice any signs of dental issues, seek veterinary help as soon as possible.

Your vet may perform dental cleanings under anesthesia, tooth extractions, or treatments for gum diseases. They may recommend periodic dental checkups to ensure your cat's oral health remains in optimal condition.


Cats with diabetes usually suffer from the Type II form, when cells don't respond appropriately to insulin. It's very common, especially in overweight cats.

Risk Factors and Causes of Feline Diabetes

Diabetes is an increasingly common issue in cats, characterized by an inability to produce or efficiently use insulin. Key risk factors include obesity, a carbohydrate-rich diet, age, and a sedentary lifestyle.

Some medications, such as corticosteroids, are also associated with increased diabetes risk. Understanding these risk factors is crucial in the prevention of this chronic condition.

Symptoms and Diagnostic Tests

Common symptoms of feline diabetes include excessive urination, increased thirst, weight loss, and increased appetite. If you notice these signs, consult your veterinarian immediately. They administer diagnostic tests such as blood glucose levels and urine glucose tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Managing and Treating Diabetes in Cats

Treatment options for feline diabetes include regular insulin injections, dietary modifications, and maintaining a stable exercise routine.

Collaboration with your veterinarian is essential in determining the appropriate course of action for your diabetic cat and regularly monitoring their glucose levels. Your vet may recommend periodic follow-ups to ensure the condition remains under control.


Hairballs may seem like a minor annoyance. However, if they aren't digested or expelled, there may be serious consequences. Sometimes, a simple treat prevents hairballs.

Why Hairballs Form and Their Potential Dangers

Hairballs are clumps of indigestible hair that form as a result of your cat's grooming habits. As cats groom themselves, they ingest hair which may accumulate in their stomach or small intestine.

If not regurgitated or passed through their digestive system, these hairballs sometimes lead to obstructions requiring medical intervention.

Signs That Hairballs May Be a Problem

While it is normal for cats to occasionally cough up hairballs, excessive hairball production may indicate an issue. Signs that hairballs might be a problem include frequent hacking, vomiting, loss of appetite, constipation, or diarrhea.

If you notice these symptoms, consult your veterinarian for proper guidance.

Prevention and Treatment Options

To minimize hairball formation, regularly brush your cat's hair to remove loose fur and reduce the amount ingested during grooming. Providing your cat with hairball control cat food or supplements also promotes gastrointestinal tract health.

In more severe cases, your veterinarian may need to perform surgery to remove a hairball obstruction.

Veterinarian doctor checking cat at a vet clinic.


If you have a middle-aged or older cat, hyperthyroidism is something to watch out for. If you notice the symptoms, take your cat to the vet for a diagnosis.

Understanding the Causes and Types of Feline Hyperthyroidism

Hyperthyroidism occurs when a cat's thyroid gland produces excessive amounts of thyroid hormone, causing an accelerated metabolic rate.

Although experts are unsure of the precise cause, factors such as age, diet, and environmental influences may contribute.

Symptoms and Diagnostic Methods

Typical symptoms associated with feline hyperthyroidism include weight loss, hyperactivity, increased appetite, increased heart rate, and vomiting. Upon observing these symptoms, consult your veterinarian for a proper diagnosis.

Blood tests measuring thyroid hormone levels (T3 and T4) are a common method used for diagnosing hyperthyroidism.

Treatment Options and Long-Term Management

Available treatment options for hyperthyroidism include oral medication, radioactive iodine therapy, surgery, or dietary management. Discussing these options with your vet enables you to choose the most suitable course of action for your cat.

Long-term management of your cat's condition may include frequent monitoring and medication adjustments to ensure optimal thyroid function.

Kidney Disease

Many different signs may point to kidney disease, so it's sometimes difficult to determine. If you notice changes in your cat's appetite, activity, or urination, schedule an appointment with your vet.

Causes and Risk Factors for Feline Kidney Disease

Kidney disease is a common issue in cats, particularly as they age. The kidneys filter waste products from the blood, which are then expelled through urination.

Causes of kidney disease include infection, inflammation, and exposure to toxins. Other risk factors are genetic predisposition and pre-existing medical conditions.

Recognizing Early Symptoms

Initial symptoms of kidney disease may be subtle and include increased thirst, frequent urination, loss of appetite, lethargy, and weight loss. Early recognition of these symptoms allows for prompt intervention and minimizes potential damage to your cat's kidneys.

Treatment Options and Dietary Recommendations

Treatment for kidney disease depends on the underlying cause and severity. Your vet may recommend medications, fluid therapy, or dietary changes to manage the condition.

Specific dietary recommendations include providing low-phosphorus and high-quality protein foods and ensuring proper hydration. Regular check-ups and monitoring of your cat's kidney function are crucial for long-term management.


Obesity is often preventable. Keep diligent records of your cat's weight and conduct body checks at home in addition to their regular vet visits.

On June 14, 2023, journalist Aoife Horton of the Southwest Journal reports that although neutering male cats has its benefits, obesity may result because they roam less and are overall less active.

Compensate for these issues by providing more opportunities for play and other activities.

Determining If Your Cat Is Overweight

Obesity is a growing concern for cats and often leads to numerous health problems, including diabetes, joint issues, and a shortened lifespan. Observe their physical appearance and consult your vet to determine if your cat is overweight.

Healthy cats have a visible waist and ribs that you feel without excess pressure.

Reasons for Feline Obesity and Potential Complications

Common reasons for feline obesity include excessive calorie intake, lack of exercise, and underlying medical conditions. Obesity many times leads to severe complications like diabetes, heart disease, and arthritis.

Understanding the causes and implications of obesity is essential in managing your cat's weight and overall health.

Strategies for Achieving a Healthy Weight and Lifestyle for Your Cat

Achieving and maintaining a healthy weight for your cat involves a combination of balanced nutrition and regular exercise. Consult your vet to develop a suitable diet plan and portion sizes for your cat. Incorporate interactive play and exercise into your cat's daily routine.

Regular weight monitoring and veterinary check-ups also ensure your cat remains on track to achieve a healthy weight.

Urinary Tract Infections

Urinary tract infections (UTIs) are easy to spot but less common than urinary tract diseases.

In an article published by the Western Carolina Regional Animal Hospital, their experts say, "Cats that do develop urinary tract infections are typically 10 years of age or older and often suffer from endocrine diseases, including hyperthyroidism and diabetes mellitus."

If you have a cat entering their senior years, be on the lookout for signs of UTIs.

Common Causes of Urinary Tract Infections in Cats

The causes of urinary tract infections in cats are bacteria, fungi, or parasites. Underlying health conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, or congenital abnormalities may also contribute to the development of UTIs.

Signs and Symptoms

Signs of a UTI in your cat include frequent urination, straining or crying while urinating, blood in the urine, and increased licking of the genital area. Take note of any changes in your cat's urination habits and consult with your veterinarian if you suspect a UTI.

Treatment Recommendations and Prevention Tips

Treatment of UTIs in cats usually involves a course of antibiotics or antifungal medications, depending on the source of infection. Ensuring your cat has access to clean water and monitoring their urine output helps prevent future UTIs.

Regular veterinary check-ups and discussing any concerns with your vet are essential components of UTI prevention.

Fight Feline Foes by Harboring Health and Happiness

Understanding the complexities surrounding common cat health problems equips you to make informed decisions about your pet's well-being. Proactively collaborating with your veterinarian is crucial in providing the best care possible for your cat.

By implementing preventive measures and addressing issues as they arise, you foster a healthy and happy life for your feline friend. Though some issues arise unexpectedly, prevention is the key when possible.

Stay up-to-date on your cat's health and watch out for changes — no matter how subtle — in your cat's behaviors. You want your cat to live a long and active life.

Subscribe to CattitudeDaily to receive news, cat health tips, healthy cat breeds and even gift ideas regarding all things feline.

Was this article helpful?