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Cat Illnesses That Should Not Be Ignored

Cats are stoic creatures that often hide when they feel unwell. That can make detecting when your cat is sick, somewhat challenging. Today our Rock Hill vets share the symptoms of common but serious cat illnesses to help you recognize when your cat is sick.

Is my cat sick?

Regardless of whether you are the loving owner of a cat, dog or exotic pet, you need to be on alert and prepared to make an emergency visit to the veterinarian if your pet becomes ill.

This is especially true of cats since cats tend to isolate themselves out of instinct when they become ill. Which means that illnesses in cats are often detected when they are more advanced.

To help you recognize symptoms of illness in your feline friend, here are 3 common cat illnesses to be on the lookout for, and their symptoms.

Common cat illnesses that can be contagious or serious, Rock-Hill vet


Diabetes is being seen more and more often in cats. If your cat doesn’t produce enough insulin to balance glucose levels or blood sugar, diabetes mellitus results. Left untreated diabetes can shorten your cat’s lifespan, as well as lead to nerve disorders and numerous other health problems. All of this can add up to a need for more emergency trips to the veterinarian.

Much like treating people with diabetes, when treating diabetes in cats the focus is on management rather than cure and may include regular insulin injections. If your cat is displaying any of the following symptoms contact your vet as soon as possible, your cat may be seriously ill and require life saving emergency attention.

  • Thirst
  • Increased urination
  • Increased appetite or loss of appetite
  • Vomiting
  • Dehydration
  • Motor function problems
  • Coma


There are a range of cancers that can affect cats and symptoms can vary. If your cat shows any of the following signs make an appointment to see your vet as soon as possible.

  • Chronic weight loss
  • Sores that do not heal
  • Odor from the mouth
  • Unexplained bleeding
  • Unexplained discharge
  • Marked increase or decrease in appetite
  • Lumps or bumps that change in size or shape
  • Difficulty urinating or defecating

One common contributor to cancer in cats is Feline Leukemia Virus, which we recommend having your cat vaccinated against.

Treatment is available for many types of cat cancer if the illness is detected early. Surgery, radiation, or chemotherapy may be used to help fight the disease. Factors which influence the success of cancer treatment in cats include the location of the tumor, the type of cancer, and extent of its spread. 

URI - Upper Respiratory Infections & Cat Colds 

Much like people, viruses and bacteria can cause infections in your cat’s upper respiratory tract, sinuses, nose, and throat.

Respiratory infections or cat colds are extremely contagious illnesses and frequently seen in shelters and multi-cat households. Cats easily contract feline herpesvirus and feline calicivirus through grooming, sharing a food or water bowl, coughing, and sneezing. If your cat catches a URI it will quickly spread to other cats in your home, and other cats in your neighborhood if you allow your cat outdoors.

Symptoms of cat colds are much like the symptoms of the cold virus in people, and can lead to more serious conditions. To determine whether your cat has an upper respiratory infection look for the following symptoms:

  • Fever
  • Sneezing
  • Coughing or gagging
  • Congestion or drooling
  • Runny nose or nasal discharge
  • Decreased or lost appetite

When should I take my cat to the vet?

When it comes to helping your cat to live a long and healthy life, it is always better to err on the side of caution. If your cat is displaying any of the symptoms listed above, it bring them to a vet as soon as possible. Cat illnesses tend to progress and become more serious very quickly if left untreated.

If your cat requires emergency care, contact our Rock Hill emergency vets. Our veterinarians are specially trained in emergency medicine and available only nights and weekends, to deliver critical care to pets in South Carolina. 

Vet Care for Rock Hill Pets

Carolina Veterinary Specialists in Rock Hill, accepts new patients to our specialty services by referral only. Our emergency/urgent care service welcomes all patients.

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