This information is for breeders and anyone who is interested in cat health. I have listed all the basic health concerns in cats and health care for cats.
Starting with basic virus's
Calichi Virus: This is a virus that causes upper respiratory symptoms and mouth sores it is spread through other infected cats and seen in highly populated cat areas it is a common sickness in young kittens and older cats, the virus is shed though saliva and feces, other symptoms can include limping from joint pain, fever and lack of appetite due the mouth ulcers, in kittens under 6 weeks it can be fatal in up to 75% due to weaker immunity and these young kittens may include pneumonia and not be able to nurse due to sores on tongue, the virus will run a course of 10 days but depending on the cats immune response or how sick they get it can last a little over 2 weeks.
After cats have fought the virus 20% remain carriers for several months to years, a few of these cats will shed the virus to other cats in the area, the remaining percent of cats will have completely rid the virus and a small amount will harbor it with there bodies keeping it in check but will not shed it to other cats or kittens and have no out breaks. Antibiotics like doxycyclin are usually given to ward of secondary bacteria infections and lung infections like pneumonia, force feeding is a must if a cat stops eating due to mouth sores this can be done with a syringe slowly so that cat does not asperate liquid in its lungs, if this happens hold the cat upside down for 10 seconds. A mom cat can still be bred as long as she is not shown to be effecting her kittens and should not be bred at least for 8 months to a year after symptoms disapear.
Related to the Rhino virus this is usually carried a life time in 70% of cats who once caught it and had symptoms, some of these cats will have no symptoms or out breaks and not shed the virus, others will shed when under stress or temperatures that are stressful, too cold or too hot, the symptoms are mainly eye infections with white/yellow or brown drainage, urinary tract infections and nasal discharge, eye sores can be seen as as well as sores on the paws and a fever and sneezing, some cats may even fight off the virus and harbor it as well and never spread it to other cats, however it usually stays dormant never completely leaving the body it can show no symptoms for months to years until an outbreak occurs, bringing in other cats that have the herpe virus seem to cause out breaks in cats that already have herpes but no symptoms, this will cause that cat to relapse again. I think this is because the body signals the new cat as a natural vaccine to the currant cat and causes a reaction, a flare up of the virus.
Treatment is usually anti viral eye drops. NOT the ones that fight infection these only work for a while and then the cat usually relapse. Anti viral drops are very costly but are a good choice. Also Baytril is a good oral med for herpe virus as well to fight off secondary bacteria. L Lysine an amino acid found at any grocery store given 500 a day my syringe for 10 days seems to trick the virus into going away or laying dormant and providing relief.
70% of cats are exposed to the virus but there immunity does not alow the virus to be caught, these cats have no sympoms at all and can breed normaly with no problems, some never know that there cat was even ever effected because some do not show prominent symptoms 1 in 20 cats will have the actual virus and show some kind of symptoms, if you are a breeder and suspect herpe virus I would wean kittens at 5 weeks and take them clear away from mom, the kittens would not catch the virus though milk because there are antibodies as well in milk that protect kittens but the environment may be spreading the virus and at 5 weeks the antibodies in moms milk are starting to decline. If you have litters that still are coming down with it after talking them away you should NEVER continue to breed the mom it can weaken her farther and kittens will be at risk every time.
FIP: One of worse virus's, it causes chest congestion, open mouth breathing and diarrhea, there are two forums dry and wet, the wet seems to be worse, causes severe breathing problems and wet lungs due to congestion, there will be coughing and wheezing as well, the dry forum seems to effect the digestive tract causing severe diarrhea for months until the cats immunity is so weakend that it passes away, in 80% of cats with wet forum they will die within 3- 6 months of getting the virus and in dry forum 6 months. in a slight few they will just remain carriers and harbor the virus and shed to other cats. this is very rare.
There is no cure but something called interferon can help boost immunity, it is also used with feline leukemia. The FIP vaccine is not recommended because it can cause the virus to mutate in the cat that was free of it.
A Large percentage of FIP cats will have a low grade fever at every vet visit, it is a constant fever most of the time. FIP is not rare but is not seen as much as the above virus's. Another name for the virus is the corona virus some cats are exposed to the corona virus and show signs of diahreah for a few weeks and then it passes ths is NOT FIP it was only the exposure to the virus that never mutated into FIP.
FIV: Another serious virus that is not curable, most cats with FIV will die within one year, it causes weakend immunity as well as skin disorders diarrhea, constipation, worms and fever, also cats will lose weight and be very weak and may have eye infections and urinary problems. There is no cure but immuity boosting drugs can help. An extremely small amount of cats will hide FIV in there system for years and spread it to other cats.
It is estimated that only 1 out of 50 cats actually has FIV and its seen in dirty over popualted stressful conditions or both and seen in mostly uncared for cats that have other infections this in turn weakens the immune system and causes feline luekemia,
In some cases cats can have a false positive test result if vacinated with feline leukemia vaccine. I do not recommend the vaccine.
Health concerns: genetic and congentital
HCM: Or Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy: is a heart condition that causes thickening of the heart and makes the heart work harder resulting in a mild to severe heart disorder. It is known to be genetic and has been seen in all breeds of cats such as the maine coon, Ragdoll and so on, a heart scan will show HCM if it is present but there is a new test that uses a swab to test DNA this can show future hcm in a cat that scan's free of it.
HCM is not curable but cats can live many years free of noticing any symptoms, some have mild hcm and need no medication some cats have it so bad that they need to be put down. Blood thinners and certain blood pressure medication can help a cat with moderate HCM or mild and help the cat live many years. Also a high taurine diet will help keep the heart strong and a stress free home will also help.
Other heart defects can be found other then HCM that are caused by a bad diet lacking taurine and other vitamins. Sometimes a special diet can cure the problem or reduce it if its related to bad diet. Fever and other pronlems with health can make the heart weak as well.
PKD: Or polycysic kidney disease is a condition that is inherited by one or both parents genes, parents free of it cannot pass it on. It causes tiny cyst on the kidneys usually present at birth and grow larger eventually causing kidney failure in middle age cats 6-8 years of age. Symptoms are weight loss, vomiting excess thirst and frequent urination and enlarged kidneys. depending on how large the cyst grow makes all the difference in a cat living a somewhat normal life. A lower protein diet is said to relieve symptoms and progression. Medication that produces red blood cells if your cats is low from kidney failure.
Skin tags: these are small mole like marks that can appear on a cats face lips or anywhere on the skin, they are harmless and usually 90% benign non cancerous, they can be pink in color, tan or coat color of the cats fur. No vet should attempt to remove if not cancerous because it may agervate the cells and they can grow back in 50% of cats, so it is unecesary
Kink tail: a knot like kink or bump anywhere on a cats tail can be genetic or from odd position in utero or trauma to the tail, in most cases is harmless unless close to the rectum area where pain might be involved during litter box trips. If the kink is in more then one area or very bad surgery may be needed but in 80% of all kinks cause no problems. Nobody should ever try to pull or straiten a kink out this can cause tail breaks and damage. Cats with kinks should not be bred unless there is proof that it came from something else and not genetics like a tail break or a bad position in utero that bent the tail.
Cleft pallet: Mostly hereditary but in some cases congenital defect meaning just happens, if a kitten is born with a cleft pallet he may not be able to nurse due to the defect inside the mouth you may see a very small piece of fold like skin in the roof of the mouth.
You will notice a kitten struggling to nurse and will not be able to latch on, surgery can correct this even in a new born kitten but most vets will have a young kitten put down if the pallet is mild tube feeding can be done or the kitten may be able to nurse anyway and catch up in weight as it matures.
Hernia: a bulge or pouch like lump on the belly of a kitten sometimes in cases the stomach or intestine may peer though an opening near the cord this can be from the mom being very rough with biting the cord or it can born this way, this is an emergency as the part of the stomach may seep through the hole even more allowing air to dry and kill that part of the stomach or intestine.
Flat chest syndrome: hereditary or congenital or even environmental or viral most kittens born with this will not show the syndrome until over a week old as the chest is developing into shape, what goes wrong is unknown but some breeders say that too flat a cerfice can cause this or upper respiratory infections where a kitten struggles to breath or as its lungs develop weakly, If a kitten is nursing fine and is not stressed then in these cases the death rate is low unless the chest gets any flatter and breathing gets harder, it can also happen genetically mostly in the Maine coon or Norwegian forest cat. It can be mild to severe in mild cases as the kittens lungs get stronger the chest will reshape back to normal or it will look less flat as the kitten matures.
Symptoms are hard breathing and flat spot just between the ribs also a heart murmur can be heard in cases where the heart is being compressed, this may or may not effect the cats heart, encouraging the kitten to cry and walk can help strengthen the lungs and push the spot into place with time but do not add to many stresses or cause a kitten to cry to much as this can cause severe breathing dificulty, daily massage of the kittens is the best thing, taking the kittens arms pressing them towards the kittens ribs in and out about 10 times 3 times a day, holding him on his back in your lap will help shape it back into place.
Make sure the bedding has a few bumps and humps and not a flat cerfice. Give the kitten small hills to walk up and down in its bedding. In severe cases kittens will be so effected that they will stop breathing due to compression, if the kitten will not eat this is serious, some breeders recomend a chest brace to take pressure off the chest ask a vet how to do this or a breeder. Some kittens will not tolorate this and will die due to stress.
Bow or spay legs: A rare condition where the back legs look strait when the kitten walks or like flippers, a kitten might walk with its back legs dragging or held strait out, or it may just effect the bottom part of the legs and the feet will tilt outward this is seen when walking if the kitten is not walking and this is seen then immediately take the kitten to a vet.
The cause can be from being raised on flat slippery surface it is seen at about 10-14 days old, in this case 90% of these kittens can be cured by allowing them to have rougher surfaces such as a rug or a more grip area to walk on, encourage walking and play, this will strengthen muscles, gently massage the legs and feet a few times a day in normal position, if any pain is seen take kitten into the vet, the cause can be from an actual defect and not from slippery cerfaces. If a defect or broken legs are not found then the legs and feet will gradually be seen getting better in 2 to 6 weeks after the start of the problem. if not then a brace may be needed or surgery in rare cases.
If you think of other defects please email me and I will put them here.