Other Medical Conditions

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

FeLV is a virus that causes a breakdown in a cat’s immune system. This, in turn, causes the cat to become susceptible to many other diseases which a healthy cat might otherwise be able to fight off. HHS tests all cats 6 months of age and older for FeLV.  We highly recommend all kittens under 6 month so age be tested for FeLV by your veterinarian after adoption. If you have other cats, they should be kept separated from your new cat until FeLV testing has been done.

FeLV vaccines are reasonably effective in preventing persistent FeLV infection should your cat be exposed to the virus. No vaccine is 100% effective. The immune response produced by these vaccines will protect most cats from becoming infected with the virus. Consult your veterinarian regarding sufficient inoculations for your new cat or kitten. 

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

Cats infected with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) may not show symptoms until years after the initial infection occurred. Although the virus is slow-acting, a cat’s immune system is severely weakened once the disease takes hold. This makes the cat susceptible to various secondary infections. Infected cats receiving supportive medical care and kept in a stress-free, indoor environment can live relatively comfortable lives for months to years before the disease reaches its chronic stages.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP) is a disease that fortunately most cat owners will never need to know about first hand. It affects about one in 100 cats—most under the age of two. 
The underlying cause of Feline Infectious Peritonitis is a type of coronavirus. This virus is very common in the feline population, and studies show that in most shelters and multi-cat environments 80-100% of cats have been exposed to this virus at some point. Most of these cats (about 99% of them) will never be sick from the virus. In a small portion (about 1%) of cats, however, the virus will be able to mutate into the form known as Feline Infectious Peritonitis. There is no test currently available that will allow one to determine which cats are going to be able to mutate the virus. 

Cats that do mutate the virus become very sick. They commonly have fevers that are not responsive to antibiotics, and many of them accumulate fluid in their abdomen or chest. In the “dry” form, they can have eye inflammations (uveitis), kidney or liver disease, or neurological problems. 

There is no good test to determine if a cat has the disease, although if a kitten has fluid in his chest or abdomen, there is a high likelihood that FIP is the cause. There is no treatment for the disease, and it is almost always fatal. Vaccination has not proven effective against the disease, and most cats are exposed to the coronavirus before they are 16 weeks old (the youngest that a cat can be vaccinated with this specific vaccine). The risk of contracting FIP is highest in kittens in the first year of life, and becomes very low after two years of age. 

If your kitten shows any sign of illness, please take him to a veterinarian, who can provide more information about this devastating disease.


Although the name suggests otherwise, ringworm isn’t caused by a worm at all—but a fungus that can infect the skin, hair and nails. Not uncommon in cats, this highly contagious disease can lead to patchy, circular areas of hair loss with central red rings. Also known as dermatophytosis, ringworm often spreads to other pets in the household—and to humans, too.

Classic symptoms of ringworm in cats include:

  • Skin lesions that typically appear on the head, ears and forelimbs.
  • Ringworm can cause flaky bald patches that sometimes look red in the center.
  • In mild cases, there may be localized areas of redness or simply dandruff, while more severe infections can spread over a cat’s entire body.
  • It’s also possible for a pet to carry ringworm spores and not show any symptoms whatsoever.
  • Ringworm Transmission
  • A cat can get ringworm directly through contact with an infected animal—or indirectly through contact with bedding, dishes and other materials that have been contaminated with the skin cells or hairs of infected animals. Ringworm spores are notoriously hardy and can survive in the environment for more than a year!
  • Any cat can develop ringworm, but kittens less than a year old and geriatric cats are most prone to infection.
  • Long-haired cats and those who are immunocompromised are also more susceptible.
  • Ringworm is highly contagious and can spread quickly in crowded environments.
  • Warm and humid conditions tend to promote ringworm infections.

Because infection can potentially spread over a cat’s body, it is important if you suspect your cat may have ringworm that you see your vet for an accurate diagnosis. And because the infection can easily spread to you and other animals in the household, it’s a smart idea to immediately quarantine your cat until a veterinarian can confirm a diagnosis. You should also thoroughly wash your hands after you touch your cat.

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