As naturally curious creatures, cats are likely to sneak and explore the areas around their ‘territory.’ Despite this call of nature, any cats exposed outdoors are left vulnerable to a lot of dangers, including cars, cruel people, other animals, and infections. In fact, outdoor cats have a shorter life expectancy because of the higher risk of diseases.
About seventy million feral and stray felines roaming around the streets are likely carriers of dangerous diseases. Fortunately, there are cat diseases that can easily be prevented. However, when the cat has already contracted the said disease, it would be another story. Remember that some are more dangerous and fatal than the others, especially with infectious conditions.
What makes the condition terrifying is when the certain condition can be transmitted from cat to cat, from a mother cat to her kittens, and worse, from cat to humans. If you are keeping an outdoor feline, make sure that cleanliness and good hygiene are seriously observed.
Here’s a list of contagious cat diseases that every cat owner should know about.
1. Cat bites and scratches
Cat bites are not necessarily a disease but a way of putting yourself at risk of infection. Once your hand or any other part of your body is bitten, it is best to thoroughly clean the wound and pay a visit to your doctor. He/she may give you a tetanus injection.
No cat bite should be left untreated as it can lead to ‘scratch fever.’ Pay attention to any signs of infections such as having a high temperature, swelling, and others. It is always important to thoroughly wash scratches and bites, and never allow your furry pet to lick an open wound.
2. Feline leukaemia virus (FeLV)
Feline leukaemia refers to a blood virus, previously mistaken as cancer. It often affects the bone marrow where it allows cancer to manifest.
Although kittens are more sensitive, it can still infect other cats of any breed, age, and gender. It is usually transmitted through bodily secretions including phlegm, saliva, faeces, and urine.
What are the symptoms of feline leukaemia virus?
- Abnormal size of lymph nodes
- Consistent weight loss
- Chronic diarrhoea
- Hair loss
Help keep feline leukaemia from your furry pets by keeping them indoors, limiting exposure to other felines, and keeping their environment clean at all times. It would also help to ensure all cat vaccinations are up-to-date.
RELATED: Indoor Cat Care Guide
3. Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Feline immunodeficiency virus or FIV refers to a virus that weakens the immune system. As a result, the affected cat is put at risk of catching fatal infections. FIV is similar to the human immunodeficiency virus. However, sexual contact is not the main factor in the transmission of the said disease. It is important to note that a human cannot get AIDS from a feline and vice versa. One is usually affected when in contact with saliva and blood through deep bite wounds. This means that kittens are at risk of an infected mother cat.
This is one of the most fatal diseases as signs can potentially lie dormant for years before it starts to manifest with apparent symptoms. What are the symptoms of feline immunodeficiency virus?
- Abnormal size of lymph nodes
- Hair loss
- Oral infections
- Skin problems
- Respiratory infections
- Weight loss
Sadly, this condition is still considered incurable. The best course of action is to strengthen the immune system of the cat. The vet may possibly prescribe antiviral medications and supplement as well as a modified diet.
4. Feline herpes (FVR)
Feline herpes or what is technically called as feline viral rhinopneumonitis (FVR) is a common virus observed in felines that results in upper-respiratory infections.
Further, one may get infected from another infected cat through bodily secretions such as discharge from the mouth, nose, and eyes. There is a higher chance of transmission to multicat households that share water and food bowls, litter trays, grooming tools, and toys. It can also be passed from a mother cat to her kittens during pregnancy period.
What are the symptoms of feline herpes?
- Nasal discharge
It is best to ask the appropriate medications from the vet that should address the discharge symptoms. Antiviral or antibiotics medications are often given to manage the virus. Unfortunately, as with the former virus mentioned, feline herpes also remains incurable.
5. Parasitic infection
Ringworm is a common infection in cats. Although this is not a worm but a fungus, it grows and appears as rings resembling mushrooms, in red itchy skin.
Beware as the ringworm transmission from a child to another is as easy as the transmission from a kitten. As for the case of cat to human, one can only be infected if one swallows eggs or oocysts that the cat sheds. As such, it is very important to always keep your hands clean after washing and cleaning the litter trays. In addition, make sure that all your kitties are regularly dewormed.
What are the signs of infection in cats? Find out more about cat worm infection in Cat Worms: Can Humans Be Infected and What Is the Treatment?
What is toxoplasmosis? This is a zoonotic condition that is instigated by a parasite called Toxoplasma gondii. What makes it more terrifying is that it leaves pregnant women more vulnerable. The said parasite is transmitted through cysts that can spread in contaminated blood, infected animals, faeces, soil, and water.
What are the symptoms of toxoplasmosis?
- Breathing difficulty
- Light sensitivity
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of weight
- Watery eyes
The best preventive measure is to take extreme caution when handling your felines. Make sure to wash your hands properly and regularly. If you are a pregnant cat owner, it is best to have someone else handle your feline companions to avoid the presence of microorganisms.