Please enter a name for your new saved list


Communicable Cat Diseases

communicable cat diseases
June 11, 2018

Educate your clients about communicable diseases in cats

The most serious contagious cat diseases are transmitted from cat to cat, often from a mother cat to her kittens. Few diseases are communicable between cats and other animals, and those that are tend to be easily treated. Below are a few of the most threatening and most common diseases. Educate your cat owners on signs and symptoms of these diseases, and encourage vaccination compliance to ensure the health of their pets.

Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)

FIP is a rare but incurable and typically fatal disease affecting less than one percent of all cats. The condition is most prevalent in multi-cat households, animal shelters and breeding facilities. FIP is caused by infection with the feline infectious peritonitis virus (FIPV), a mutated form of the feline coronavirus (FCoV). Symptoms include a fever that’s irresponsive to antibiotics, weight loss, lethargy and anorexia.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV affects the immune system and can lie dormant for years before causing apparent symptoms. When it attacks, typically harmless bacteria, viruses and fungi cause severe illness. Most felines do not survive beyond five years following diagnosis. Symptoms include enlarged lymph nodes, fever, anemia, weight loss, disheveled coat, poor appetite, conjunctivitis and diarrhea.

Feline Panleukopenia (FP)

FP infects and kills rapidly growing and dividing cells, such as those found in bone marrow and intestines. A developing fetus also can be infected. FP most severely affects kittens. It is present everywhere in the environment, and relatively all felines are exposed at some point in their lives. Symptoms include loss of appetite, high fever, lethargy, vomiting, severe diarrhea, nasal discharge and dehydration.

Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)

FeLV is one of the most common feline infectious diseases and affects roughly 3% of all cats in the United States. Fortunately, an effective vaccine has been discovered and accurate testing procedures allow for earlier diagnoses. FeLV can cause cancer, and clinical symptoms include loss of appetite, weight loss, diminishing coat condition, enlarged lymph nodes, fever, pale gums and infections of the skin, urinary bladder and upper respiratory tract.

Feline Calcivirus (FCV)

FCV causes upper respiratory infections and oral disease in domestic and exotic species of cats. Symptoms are typical of an upper respiratory infection, including sneezing, nasal congestion, conjunctivitis and nose and eye discharge. FCV is highly contagious.

Feline Bartonella

Fleas are the vector that allow Bartonella to transmit between cats. There are several species of Bartonella, and roughly 35% of cats will test positively. Clinical symptoms include uveitis, fever, lymphadenopathy, gingivitis and neurologic disease.


The American Association of Feline Practitioners Vaccination Advisory Panel recommends the following core vaccines. Remind cat owners within your practice that yearly vaccine compliance can significantly improve the health and longevity of their pets.

  • Panleukopenia (feline distemper)
  • Feline herpesvirus (viral rhinotracheitis)
  • Calicivirus
  • Rabies virus

Non-core vaccines include:

  • Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
  • Feline Immunodeficiency (FIV)
  • Bordetella bronchiseptica (kennel cough)
  • Chlamydia felis
  • Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
  • Dermatophytosis (ringworm)

According to the Humane Society of the United States, approximately 70 million feral and stray cats roam the streets in this country. Additionally, fleas are a year-round danger. Keep your clients aware of the dangers of communicable diseases and increased risks associated with keeping pets outside. Education is the key to promoting vaccination and year-round flea and tick prevention.

DVM360 Magazine provides a guide to living with FeLV-infected cats for veterinarians and their clients.

Contact your Covetrus representative for more information at 855.724.3461 or online.


Load more comments
Thank you for the comment! Your comment must be approved first


Need Regulatory Assistance

If you need help with regulatory or licensing issues, we're happy to help. We have a wide variety of resources to help you when issues arise.

learn more
covetrus_glyph_rgb w-TM-01


Are you looking for a place to let your talents shine? At Covetrus, we help our practitioner customers better serve their patients and take pride in providing the best customer experience possible. Search our open positions to see our available opportunities.

Learn More


Stay current with what’s going on with Covetrus, subscribe to receive our newsletter and email communications. Subscribers will receive the latest information in practice management, sales and marketing, animal health, and more.

Sign Up