Educational Articles

Cats + Infectious Diseases

  • Feline Hemotrophic Mycoplasmosis (FHM) is the current name for a relatively uncommon infection of cats. With this disease, the cat's red blood cells are infected by a microscopic blood parasite. The subsequent destruction of the infected red blood cells results in anemia. Anemia is a medical term referring to a reduction in the numbers of red blood cells (erythrocytes) or in the quantity of the blood pigment hemoglobin, which carries oxygen.

  • Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis (FVR) is an infectious disease caused by feline herpesvirus type-1. As with other herpes viruses, the virus is very species specific, and is only known to cause infections in domestic and wild cats. The virus can infect cats of all ages.

  • Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus specific to the cat family. It was first recognized in the mid 1980's and it has been found in cats worldwide. Although widespread, it is not a common infection in cats. Only 1-5% of cats show evidence of exposure to the virus. In some cats exposure to the virus leads to clinical signs and symptoms that result in deficiency in the immune system.

  • Feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) is an important disease of domestic cats and most members of the cat family (Felidae). It occurs worldwide in cats of all ages, but the disease is most common in young cats less than two years of age.

  • The early signs of FIP disease can be quite vague and may not be obvious. If your cat appears to be in good health and your veterinarian found no abnormalities on a physical examination, then the "positive" test means only that your cat has been exposed to a strain of Feline Coronavirus, the virus that can cause FIP.

  • Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is one of the most important infectious viruses of cats. It was first discovered in cats with a form of leukemia, hence its name. FeLV is the cause of a variety of diseases, not just leukemia.

  • The term panleukopenia means a decrease in the number of all of the white blood cells in the body. White blood cells play a major role in immunity and are important in defending against infections and diseases. In severe panleukopenia, white blood cell numbers may drop from the normal of several thousand per milliliter of blood to just a few hundred.

  • Heartworms are a blood-borne parasite called Dirofilaria immitis that reside in the heart or adjacent large blood vessels of infected animals. Recent studies of cats with heart and respiratory diseases have found an incidence of heartworms that is far greater than previously thought. Veterinarians now strongly recommend that all cats receive year-round monthly heartworm preventives in areas where mosquitoes are active all year round.

  • Histoplasmosis is a chronic, non-contagious fungal infection caused by the soil-dwelling fungus Histoplasma capsulatum. Histoplasma capsulatum is found globally and may infect both humans and animals. However, histoplasmosis is uncommon to rare in all but dogs and cats.

  • Hookworms are intestinal parasites of the cat and dog. Their name is derived from the hook-like mouthparts they use to anchor themselves to the lining of the intestinal wall. In general, cats tend to harbor relatively few hookworms when compared to the large numbers found in dogs.