Kitten on a counter next to some glasses.

Anatomy and Physiology

The immune system itself is a complex network of cells, organs, and special chemicals. No one division overshadows another; each team member relies on the others for support. In this way, they all work in unison toward a common goal. Cells of the Immune System Special cells, called stem cells, located within the bone marrow …

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Five cats with collars sitting together.

Understanding Cat Breeds

Like other domesticated animals, there are different breeds of cat. Well-known breeds include the Siamese, Abyssinian, Manx, Persian, and Maine Coon. Cats began to be categorized into breeds in the 19th century with the advent of cat shows. Today, there are over 100 cat breeds and varieties recognized by one or more of the official …

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Orange cat getting a shot from the vet.

Cat’s Vaccinations and Stress

Vaccinations Immunization can help protect the cat against some infectious diseases. Vaccinations trigger the production of antibodies against certain microorganisms, making a cat immune to many diseases without causing the symptoms of the disease. For example, cats can be vaccinated against feline infectious enteritis, feline herpes virus, and feline calcivirus. Stress Cats are easily stressed. …

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Tri-color cat getting checked at the vet.

Cat’s Allergies, Autoimmunity, and Immunodeficiency

Cats can suffer from allergies, producing a range of symptoms, including itchy skin (and redness if the cat has been persistently scratching itself), sneezing, asthmatic wheezing, vomiting, diarrhea, and bloating. Allergies occur when the immune system overreacts to a foreign substance, usually harmless, leading to the release of an inflammatory chemical such as histamine in …

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Orange cat with a stethoscope around her.

Cat’s Immune System

The immune system includes any part of a cat’s body that protects it against infection. The body’s surface—the skin and mucous membranes—acts as a physical barrier to disease-causing germs (pathogens). The strong acid in the cat’s stomach kills many of the germs that enter through the mouth or nose. Those that do manage to enter …

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Three kittens under a pink blanket.

Cat’s Protection at Birth

When kittens are born, their immune systems are not fully developed and they are at risk of infections. They do, however, receive help from their mother’s milk, specifically the first milk she produces after the kittens are born. This thick yellowy milk (colostrum) is made for only about 72 hours after birth and is rich …

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Cat being petted by a woman.

Cat’s Purring

We associate the rhythmic chug of a cat’s purr with contentment—and in many cases it is a sign of a happy cat. However, cats may also purr when they’re anxious, giving birth, or injured. Kittens learn to purr at about one week old (before their eyes open), and biologists believe that it developed as a …

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