Educational Articles

Cats + Medical Conditions

  • Conjunctivitis means inflammation of the conjunctiva. If you see excessive tearing or watering from one or both eyes, abnormal discharge, or reddened conjunctival membranes, your cat may have conjunctivitis. The most common causes of conjunctivitis can be roughly divided into two categories: infectious diseases and non-infectious conditions including allergies, hereditary conditions, and tumors. Conjunctivitis may also be a secondary symptom of another eye disease. Specific tests will be performed, based on the medical history and results of an eye examination and surrounding tissues. The general approach to non-specific conjunctivitis is to use ophthalmic preparations containing a combination of broad-spectrum antibiotics to control the secondary bacterial infection and anti-inflammatory drugs to reduce the inflammation. The prognosis depends on the specific diagnosis.

  • Constipation is defined as an abnormal accumulation of feces in the colon resulting in difficult bowel movements. Constipation is a condition seen most commonly in mature, middle-aged cats and can be caused by hairballs, ingestion of foreign bodies, pelvic injuries, or obesity and/or lack of exercise. Megacolon is the most common cause of constipation in cats. In most cases, a diagnosis of constipation can be made on the basis of the cat's clinical signs and medical history. Treatment varies depending on the cause of constipation. The long-term outlook varies according to the cause of the constipation; however, most cats can be adequately managed without surgery and resume normal, healthy lives.

  • Coonhound paralysis describes a sudden inflammation of multiple nerve roots and peripheral nerves in dogs, and occasionally cats. It can be caused by an immune reaction to raccoon saliva. However, it can also occur in dogs who have not encountered a raccoon. In this case it is called “acute idiopathic polyradiculoneuritis” and its cause is often unknown. Dogs with coonhound paralysis start out with a stiff-legged gait that rapidly progresses to paralysis of all four legs. Severely affected dogs may need to be treated in a hospital setting but most dogs are treated at home once their diagnosis is confirmed and they are stable. The majority of dogs recover fully from coonhound paralysis.

  • Corneal lipidosis is an accumulation of fatty substances within the cornea. This is caused by genetics (corneal dystrophy), eye inflammation (corneal degeneration), or by an increase in circulating lipids in the body (hyperlipidemia). Visually, lipidosis appears as a sparkly or shiny area of the cornea. It is diagnosed by a thorough eye exam, bloodwork, and patient history. Treatment and prognosis will depend on the cause and may include treatment of underlying inflammatory conditions of the eye, or systemic treatment of elevated lipid blood levels.

  • This handout outlines corneal ulcers in cats, a painful eye condition often resulting from trauma. Other causes, clinical signs, diagnostic testing, and treatment options are also explained.

  • COVID-19 is a disease caused by the coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2. Current evidence suggests that person-to-person spread is the main source of infection. While there is evidence of transmission from humans to dogs and cats, it does not appear to be a common event at this time. If you suspect that you are ill with COVID-19, you should practice the same precautions with your pet as you would with people: wear a mask, keep your distance, wash your hands regularly, and avoid cuddling and other close contact. If your pet needs veterinary care while you are sick with COVID-19, do not take your pet to your veterinary clinic yourself.

  • A cough is an expiratory effort producing a sudden, noisy expulsion of air from the lungs. In cats, coughing is most often a sign of an inflammatory problem, affecting the lower respiratory tract, especially some form of bronchitis, often due to an infection. Heartworm infection, allergies, presence of foreign material within the airway, or irritation from inhaled liquids or gases can all be responsible for coughing and respiratory problems in cats. In order to diagnosis the cause, blood tests, laboratory cultures, endoscopic examination, and radiography may be performed. Treatment depends on the diagnosis and your cat's medical condition.

  • Crystalluria refers to the presence of crystals in the urine. These crystals are made up of minerals and other substances that would normally be dissolved in the urine; crystals form when these substances do not remain dissolved in the urine and instead coalesce (join together) into crystals. Crystalluria is diagnosed via urinalysis.

  • Skin cancers are common in cats, but cutaneous lymphoma is relatively uncommon. Less than 2% of lymphoma cases in cats occur in the skin. As the disease progresses, the skin becomes thickened, reddened, ulcerated, and may ooze fluid. The most common locations to find lesions include the junction between mucus membranes and the skin. Unfortunately, feline cutaneous lymphoma is considered incurable. Surgical removal can be attempted for solitary lesions, although the tumor often returns to the area or will have spread elsewhere in the body already

  • Blue-green algae, also called cyanobacteria, is found in fresh and brackish water of ponds and lakes. This microscopic bacteria can also grow in backyard fountains, garden pots, bird baths, and anywhere water is stagnant. Regardless of where they are found, cyanobacteria can be dangerous.