Yellow skin often indicates a condition called jaundice, which often also involves yellow gums and eyes. Jaundice often serves as a sign that a cat needs veterinary attention, and could mean that the cat has a viral disease, parasitic disease or liver conditions. Several viruses can cause yellow skin in a cat.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
A cat with FIP might have yellow skin, eyes, ear, nose and gums. Mutated coronavirus causes FIP, which is a disease that gradually gets more severe and eventually results in a cat's death. Coronavirus only mutates into the FIP-causing form in some cases, and some cats have the benign form of coronavirus. According to PetPlace.com, coronavirus spreads via the feces and poses a low risk of infection from cat to cat. Young kittens and cats with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) are especially vulnerable to FIP.
Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV)
Feline parvovirus, a highly infectious disease, causes feline distemper, which could damage the liver and cause yellow skin, eyes and ears. According to Max's House Animal Rescue, other symptoms of the disease include vomiting, lack of appetite, fever, dehydration, lack of energy and weight loss. Feline parvovirus often infects kittens, usually through contact with infected cats or their feces. Feline distemper could be fatal, so cat owners should vaccinate their cats against the virus.
Feline Calicivirus (FCV)
In most cases, FCV causes mild flu symptoms, including nasal discharges and mouth ulcers. However, some severe strains cause yellow gums and skin, skin ulcerations and swelling of the face and paws. These strains cause death in 67 percent of cases, according to the Feline Advisory Bureau. A cat can catch the virus from contact with sick cats or healthy cats that carry the virus. The virus can also reside in bodily discharge from sick cats or carrier cats that stick to food bowls and clothes.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
According to VetInfo.Com, FIV causes a gradual degradation of a cat's immune system, eventually leading to death. A cat with FIV could have yellow gums, ears, tongue and nose. It might also have a dull coat, fever, diarrhea and seizures. FIV infects a cat through saliva, for example, in shared food and water. Outdoor cats that roam and fight with one another might catch FIV through bite wounds. A cat with FIV can also transmit the disease to her kittens.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV)
One of the most common causes of death in domestic cats, FeLV inhibits a cat's immune system and makes it vulnerable to infections and diseases, according to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). A cat with FeLV might have jaundice, fever, upper respiratory infections, seizures, diarrhea, vomiting, enlarged lymph nodes and eye problems. FeLV usually infects a cat through bodily fluids of sick cats, for example, from sharing food bowls, grooming other cats, sharing litter boxes and fighting. FeLV usually affects young kittens, and does not often infect healthy mature cats that have been vaccinated against the virus.
- Photo Credit cat image by tnk333 from Fotolia.com
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