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Common Cat Health Problems and Solutions

Common Cat Health Problems and Solutions

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Cats are hardy animals but, just like humans, they can have a variety of medical conditions. This includes everything from tick and fleas to diabetes.

Learning about the conditions your cat might face can help you identify problems before they get out of control.

Tick and Flea control

Cats are just a likely as dogs to suffer from ticks and fleas. If you have multiple cats, however, a small problem can soon become a big situation. Watch your cat for signs of itching so you can examine them for ticks or fleas.

You can buy a flea collar or special powder to keep fleas away. There are commercial flea and tick shampoos available if you have an infestation. If you have multiple cats and a problem with fleas and ticks, you might need to consult your vet. They have prescription-only medication that can help resolve the situation.

Cat fleas removal procedure.
Comb Your Cat for Fleas and Remove Fleas


Cats lick their fur in order to remove old hair. They do this every day as a part of their grooming routine. Most of this hair passes through their digestive system with no problems. But, if too much collects in the stomach it will result in a hairball.

Every cat will cough up a hairball from time to time. But, if it is happening more than a couple times a month you will need to take action. Grooming can help but, using a regular brush can’t remove enough have to make a difference. You can brush them with a grooming comb to remove excess hair.

If hairballs become a persistent problem you might need to talk to a vet. They might suggest that you keep a medicine to induce vomiting in your medicine cabinet. There are also flavored lubricants, based off of petroleum jelly, that help the hair move through the digestive track, limiting hairballs.

Cat needs hairball comfort.
Hairball Help for Cats

Skin and Fur Problems

Is your kitty itching? Has your feline friend developed a bald patch? Having a cat means occasionally dealing with skin and fur problems. Knowing what to look for can save your pet a lot of unnecessary discomfort.


Ring worm, which actually a type of fungus, can cause itching. A cat with this problem might over groom an area to the point of causing open lesions. You will need to consult a vet for a prescription cream to get rid of the fungus.


Your cat likes to roll around on the ground. They’ll do this wherever they are, no matter what kind of surface they are on. Sometimes this puts them in contact with things that they are allergic or sensitive to, leading to skin problems.

It can be hard to identify allergies in your pet. Often times, it is only after you’ve eliminated other causes that you should consider allergic reactions. So, if you can’t identify another culprit for your cat’s discomfort, consider allergies.


Mange, or scabies, is a condition caused by mites in the skin or hair follicles. There are two types of mange that affects cats, though both are fairly uncommon. This condition causes intense itching, hair loss and restlessness. Humans exposed to these mites can develop a rash. You’ll need to go to a veterinarian for help with this condition.


Cats can get several different types of worms. They get this by eating infected fleas as they groom, eating an infected rodent or digging in infected soil. Tapeworm is one of the most common.

Tape worms attach to the cats intestines and steal nutrients. You might notice bits of worm in the litter box; they might be moving or look like grains of rice. If you see any signs of worms seek veterinary care. There are no over-the-counter remedies that will get rid of tapeworms.

Roundworms and hookworms are the two other likely culprits. These are ingested, grow and passed through fecal material. Cats infected might have diarrhea, vomiting and nutritional deficiencies. A bad infection can cause a bowel obstruction. Only prescription medication can get rid of these parasites. It often takes several attempts to completely clear up a worm infection.

You should know that though it is unlikely, humans can get worms from their cat. This generally happens to children and typically occurs if they play in soil that cat has used for their toilet needs. It is important to de-worm your cat regularly and teach kids to wash their hands after handling their pet.

Kitten has worms in her stool.
Identify and treat tapeworms

Urinary Tract Infections

Though it’s not common, cats can get urinary tract infections just like humans. For some cats urinary infections become a chronic condition. You can offer extra water and switch to a special dry food made to reduce these infections.

Your cat experiences the same symptoms that you might: frequent urination, reduced urine output, straining to urinate. Additionally cats will lick at their genitals to try and relieve the discomfort. They also frequently stop using the litter box; so if your cat starts having accidents for no reason, they might have a urinary tract infection.

Urinary tract infections can be serious, especially if they are chronic. This means that you’ll need a veterinarian to help you keep them at bay. They might recommend a special diet, stress reduction or supplements. Most will recommend adding more wet food to your cat’s diet.

Cat is being examined for urinary tract infections in vets office.
UTIs in cats can be serious


Cats like to chew on things and they will also lick at things that they are curious about. This makes them susceptible to poisoning, which can be deadly.

Symptoms of poisoning can range from lethargy, vomiting, diarrhea, excitability, trembling, collapse, breathing difficulties, or uncontrolled muscle movements such as jerking of the head and neck.

If you suspect poisoning it is vital that you call your vet or visit a veterinary emergency room. Time is your enemy and every second counts.

Here are some household plants that are actually poisonous to cats:

  • Amaryllis.
  • Azalea.
  • Cactus.
  • Creeping Charlie.
  • Easter lily.
  • Ivy.
  • Mistletoe.
  • Philodendron.
  • Poinsettia.

If you don’t have a veterinary emergency room you can actually call for help. The ASPCA runs an animal poison control center that you pay for in exchange for medical assistance. The cost is under 50 and can help you make quick, life-saving decisions. You will also be given a follow up number that you can call for free with additional questions.

House cat is eating grass.
Home-grown catgrass


Obesity is a big problem for sedentary household cats. It comes from a bad combination of eating too much, exercising too little and rich, carbohydrate-packed food. Unfortunately, obesity can lead to serious medical issues that can cut your cat’s life short.

Obesity can lead to feline diabetes, joint problems and aggravate other conditions such as arthritis. And, once the weight is on, it can be very hard to shed! The best way to avoid this is to feed your cat a balanced diet, avoid rich treats and provide exercise outlets.

Cat Nip

Cat nip is a perennial herb that is similar to mint. It is basically a weed that was introduced to North America from the Mediterranean. There are different types of catnip, but cats tend to really love catnip! While all cats respond differently to this herb, you can expect reactions that range from rolling around to wildly jumping around.

Catnip contains an active compound called Nepetalactone that affects your cat’s brain chemistry. About 50% of cats will respond to this compound. When eaten it can act as a sedative and when sniffed it acts as a stimulant. Catnip is considered completely safe for cats.

Your cat will not “overdose” on catnip; they simply ignore it when they’ve had enough. You can buy or grow catnip quite easily in little containers. And, catnip isn’t just for cats, humans can drink catnip tea! It is believed to be good for stomach troubles, headaches and insomnia.

Cat is with catnip.
Some cats have no reaction to catnip