Common Cat Illnesses and how to Spot them

Sharing your home with a cat can lead to some magical adventures for you and your furry friend! However, no matter how much they’re looked after, all cats can fall ill at some point in their lives. To help you notice the signs of a poorly kitty, we’ve put together our guide to common cat illnesses and how to spot them!

Dental Disease

According to the RSPCA, dental problems are the most common general problems in cats, with dental disease* being the most common specific illness! Dental ailments are often caused by plaque developing on the surface of the teeth, looking like a white or grey film. If untreated, plaque can become tartar, a yellow or brown layer which can lead to more serious conditions. Read more about dental disease here! Symptoms can include:

  • Excessive dribbling
  • Pawing at the mouth
  • Blood at the corners of the mouth
  • Not eating
  • Losing weight


Unfortunately, all cats can be prone to gastrointestinal problems, regardless of their breed! If your cat is allowed outside unattended, they might be hunting and eating things that they probably shouldn’t be. An isolated case of vomiting or diarrhoea isn’t always something to worry about, but if you’re unsure, or if your feline friend has an incident more than once in 24 hours, refer to your vet. Symptoms can include:

  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhoea
  • Refusing to eat

Upper Respiratory Infection

Kittens can get colds too, and suffer many of the same symptoms that we do! Upper respiratory infections (URIs) in cats can be transmitted between cats through sneezing, coughing or sharing food and water bowls. These infections are more common in places with lots of cats, such as shelters and catteries, but can also be spread in households with multiple cats. Vaccination can help protect your cats from many common viruses, like FVR and FVC. Symptoms can include:

  • Sneezing
  • Coughing
  • Discharge from the eyes or nose
  • Loss of appetite
  • Lethargy

Kidney Disease

Unfortunately, kidney disease can be fairly common in cats, as they urinate less frequently than dogs or people. This chronic condition is more frequently seen in older cats and, while there is no real cure, treatment is available to make your feline friend’s life a little more comfortable. Treatment is generally more effective if the problem is caught early, so look out for some of the first signs, including increased thirst and urination. Other symptoms can include:

  • Decreased appetite
  • Weight loss
  • Vomiting

Feline Lower Urinary Tract Disease

In 2018, approximately 1 in 10 of cat insurance vet’s fees claims we received were for urinary system issues. One of the more common issues is feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD), which can be caused by stones, crystals or debris accumulation in the bladder or urethra, as well as a bladder inflammation or infection. Symptoms can include:

  • Frequent urination
  • Painful urination
  • Blood in the urine

We hope this guide can help you spot some of the more common illnesses in your feline friend! If you notice any of these symptoms in your cat, or you’re worried about your cat becoming ill, always refer to your vet. You might also want to think about insurance for your pet. At The Insurance Emporium, our Cat Insurance provides cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000.^ You could even receive up to 30% discount!† Head on down to The Insurance Emporium to find out more.

* The Insurance Emporium do not provide cover for costs for trimming, scaling, polishing teeth and the removal of deciduous teeth, or costs as a result of tooth or gum disease.

^ Cover for Vet’s Fees up to £8,000 available on lunar or calendar monthly Lifetime Gold policies.

† The 30% discount is made up of 20% Introductory Discount plus 10% Multi-Pet Discount (if appropriate). The Introductory Discount is available for the first 12 premium payments on lunar and calendar monthly policies, or one premium payment on annual policies.

All content provided on this blog is for informational purposes only. We make no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of any information on this site or found by following any link on this site. We will not be liable for any errors or omissions in this information nor for the availability of this information. We will not be liable for any loss, injury or damage arising from the display or use of this information. This policy is subject to change at any time.