By Sarah Winkler, Animal Planet
According to the Humane Society of the United States, there are more than 70 million feral and stray cats roaming the streets. Because stray cats often carry dangerous diseases, the best thing that you can do to protect your domesticated cat against serious illness is to keep it indoors. By staying inside, your cat is less likely to fight with other animals and risk the chance of spreading diseases through wounds. You’ll also keep it away from infection-spreading parasites, including fleas and ticks, and prevent the kidney failure that can come as a result of ingesting poisonous substances such as antifreeze.
Outdoor cats and those that live in multi-cat homes have the highest risk of disease. However, indoor cats and “only cats” can get sick, too. The good news about cat illnesses is that most are easily preventable; the bad news is that once your cat contracts an illness, it can be very difficult to treat. It’s also important to keep in mind that even minor ailments can suggest major health problems. But some cat diseases are more dangerous than others. Read on to learn about some of the most serious ones.
5: Feline Leukemia Virus
Feline leukemia is a disease that spreads through urine, nose discharge and saliva. Cats can catch the disease through bites, sharing food and water bowls, and from simply living together. Mother cats can pass the disease along to their kittens, and kittens are more likely to contract the disease than adult cats.
Some cats will immediately become ill upon contracting the virus; however, in other cats, symptoms of the disease will not manifest for several weeks. Feline leukemia can result in a number of conditions, including system-wide infections, diarrhea, skin infections, eye disease, respiratory tract infections, bladder infections, infertility, anemia and cancer. Any severe chronic illness can be a sign of feline leukemia.
Although there is no cure for feline leukemia, the disease is easily preventable. Keeping cats indoors, restricting exposure to other cats, maintaining a clean living environment and ensuring your cat is vaccinated can all help prevent feline leukemia. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual, veterinarians rarely see cases of feline leukemia among vaccinated cat populations.