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Top 10 Cat Health Conditions For 2012

Updated on July 28, 2013

The 10 Things That Most Often Brought You And The Cat To The Vet's Office

Actuaries at Veterinary Pet Insurance (VPI) worked pretty hard sifting through their database of some 485,000 insured pets to categorize claims into a report on what brought cat owners to vet clinics in 2012.

Actually, the report is probably generated in 0.09 seconds after a handful of keystrokes, but we’ll let the actuaries think we believe they worked very hard at it. VPI didn’t become the largest pet insurance company in the U.S. by slacking off, that’s for sure. Being part of the Nationwide Insurance family probably helped a little, too.

There are more life threatening conditions on the cat list than the dog list (see sidebar at right), but even the seemingly minor conditions, if untreated, can escalate into serious conditions or chronic ones that become expensive to treat.

Some of the conditions on the list can be attributed to the cat’s natural aging process, but many of them can happen to any pet.

And The Envelope, Please

I was a bit surprised to learn that BLADDER INFECTION was the Number 1 cause for taking the cat to the vet. In my frequent dealings with pet owners, the cat’s urinary tract problems were fairly common, though.

And in 2012, VPI processed more than 4,000 claims for bladder infections. The average claim fee was $251.00 per office visit.

It comes as no surprise that PERIODONTITIS/DENTAL DISEASE was the Number 2 cause for vet visits. By age 3, some 80% of cats show signs of periodontal disease. That’s 10 points higher than it is for dogs by the age of 3 (70%), and I’ll bet the main culprit is wet food. We used to sell much more canned cat food than canned dog food at my store.

Number 3 is OVERACTIVE THYROID. Who’da thunk? I probably wouldn’t have guessed that in a million years. Nor would I have guessed Number 4, CHRONIC KIDNEY DISEASE.

Taking us away from the heavy duty conditions is Number 5, UPSET STOMACH/VOMITING. I can see you all shaking your heads in agreement. Most cat owners deal with this frequently. Occasionally, though, they can swallow something toxic and be in real trouble. Curiously enough, this condition is also Number 5 on the dog list.

Number 6 is DIABETES which isn’t much of a surprise. My guess is that this stems from the pet obesity problem that exists, at least in the U.S. Is it just me, or do we tend to see more diabetic cats than dogs?

I’m not surprised at Number 7, INTESTINAL UPSET/DIARRHEA, but I would have expected to see it ranked higher. My observation is that cat owners give a wider variety of foods, especially canned flavors. Dog owners tend to feed more stable diets. I wonder if there’s a connection. And in another curious coincidence, this same condition occupies the 7 slot on the dog list, as well.

Number 8 is SKIN ALLERGIES. That was Number 1 on the dog list, but you don’t see it as often in cats. My cat was subject to feline acne, but never had a diagnosis of skin allergy. Fleas seem to bother cats more than dogs, too.

But back to the serious stuff. Number 9 is; LYMPHOSARCOMA, or cancer of the lymph nodes. At an average cost of $415.00 per visit, this condition was the most expensive to treat on the cat list, compared to the dog list where the most expensive condition to treat was arthritis at an average cost of $258.00 per visit.

And rounding out the list at Number 10 is UPPER RESPIRATORY INFECTION. This condition didn’t even appear on the dog list. It makes one wonder; what is it with cats that make them more susceptible to URIs than dogs.


I have a theory. Multi-cat households are more common than multi-dog households, and cats engage in more direct contact with each other. They groom each other, snuggle with each other, and roughhouse with each other more than dogs do.

A strain of herpes virus and the calicivirus are the most common causes of feline URIs, and are easily spread from cat to cat. In addition, cats can become carriers for life and, although they don’t show clinical signs themselves, can still infect other cats. Just a theory.

Anyway, a good piece of advice comes from Dr. Carol McConnell (bunches of letters alert), DVM, MBA, VP/CVMO at VPI: “Regardless of the age or breed of the dog or cat, pet owners should familiarize themselves with the pets’ daily routine in order to identify abnormal behaviors that might indicate an injury or illness. Amen to that.


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    • Eiddwen profile image

      Eiddwen 3 years ago from Wales

      What an interesting hub Bob .

      We have been adopted by Mother cat 1 yr. old Tabatha and kitten 9weeks old Megan around three weeks ago and hey have filled that gap where there was something missing for sure. I wouldn't be without them for the world now they also have their own Facebook page ha ha!!.

      I have opened a page in word where I am copying and sharing any relevant/useful hubs and articles for my personal use; I find them much better than buying a book on caring for your cat!! Also woud you mind me sharing this one in Tabatha and Megan's page on Facebook .Please say if you'd rather I didn't.

      Looking forward to many more by you now and voting this one up.

      Enjoy your day.


    • Bob Bamberg profile image

      Bob Bamberg 3 years ago from Southeastern Massachusetts

      Hello, Eddy, thanks for stopping by. Isn't it amazing how animals come into our lives unexpectedly and fill a void? One could think of it as divine intervention. So often it happens during the dreariest days, lifts our spirits immediately, and the "therapy" they've become is immensely valuable to us moving forward.

      Over the years I've had scores of pet owners tell me, after the loss of their pet, that they'll never get another because it hurts too much to lose them. Then, at some point a needy animal comes into their life and makes it more meaningful.

      Please feel free to share my hub. I'm delighted that you think it worthy enough to do so, and appreciate the exposure. I wonder how it lines up with the top 10 cat health issues on your side of the pond?

      Thanks again for stopping by, commenting and sharing. Regards, Bob

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