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Diseases and Injuries

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Cats living in the wild often fall as victims to a number of diseases and injuries. It is the job of the Clan's medicine cat to treat these conditions.[1]

Diseases and Conditions

Chest Infections

Whitecough and greencough are the most common chest infections known to the Clan cats. Whitecough is the milder form, but if untreated, it can develop into the much more severe greencough.[2] Cats usually catch it during leaf-fall and leaf-bare, and sometimes it develops into large-scale epidemics. It can be fatal for elders and kits,[2] and it has claimed the lives of several cats. It spreads quickly and is highly contagious.

Medicine cats treat it using catmint.[3] The first ThunderClan medicine cat, Cloudspots, found out that this was the best remedy.[4] If fevers accompany the cough, tansy or borage is used as well.[3]

In Into the Wild, a disease named kitten-cough is mentioned.[5] Runningnose tells about an herb used to cure it, though it has disappeared since Twolegs came to the forest.[5]

In Moonrise, Mothwing mentions blackcough as a form of chest infection;[6] however, no cat in the series is known to have contracted blackcough. Blackcough symptoms are such as expelling blood, high fever, and coughing.


Poisoning is the ingestion of a substance that causes harm to the body, such as:

  • Eating or drinking poisonous substances or plants such as deathberries. Kits are the ones who usually fall victim to this, being curious and unaware of the danger.[7]
  • Eating poisoned or rotten prey or drinking tainted water.[8]
  • Inhaling too much smoke from a fire.[9]
  • Being bitten by a venomous animal such as a snake.[10]

If only a small quantity of poison is ingested, the cat usually just receives a bellyache, but larger amounts can cause death. Medicine cats treat these bellyaches with yarrow or nettle leaves, while mild bellyaches can be treated with juniper or watermint. If a cat has been severely poisoned (as in eating deathberries, as Sorrelkit does in The Darkest Hour) he/she may become unconscious for a length of time.[11]

Rat-Borne Infections

The cats sometimes fall victims to infections carried by rats. One of these infections is called Carrionplace Disease. An ancient ShadowClan medicine cat, Pebbleheart, realized that rats were a source of disease.[12] As ShadowClan cats sometimes ate the rats from the Carrionplace in The Forest, they were prone to catch these diseases. This happens in Rising Storm when two ShadowClan cats, Littlecloud and Whitethroat, come to ThunderClan for help because their Clan is in chaos from the deadly and contagious disease. Yellowfang sends them away because she doesn't want ThunderClan to become infected, but Cinderpelt wants to help them and comes up with a cure. Nightstar dies from Carrionplace disease during this time, which is why the Clan was in chaos (they thought it had ripped all nine lives from him when in fact he only had one life because Brokenstar was still alive). Burdock root is used to stop infection from rat bites.[11]

Loss of Sensory Perception

A cat may lose his or her eyesight or hearing due to old age as One-eye of ThunderClan did before her death[13] or from accidents and infections, or birth defects. These conditions usually end their career as a warrior, as they cannot hunt or fight efficiently, and must retire as elders. Kits born with defects usually die young[14], unless they have special skills compensating it, like in Jayfeather's case. Kits that are white with blue eyes have a higher chance of being born deaf, like Snowkit.[15]

Joint Aches

A condition usually associated with elders, the joints gradually degenerating with age, causing pain and difficulty to move. Damp environments can cause the appearance of this condition, so apprentices must make sure that the moss they gather for bedding is completely dry. It is usually treated using daisy or ragwort poultices.[11]


A toothache is caused by a cracked tooth, cavities, or an infection in the mouth. Alder bark is used to soothe the pain.[11]


Fever is an abnormally high temperature of the body. It is not a disease in itself, but it usually signs the presence of an infection, such as greencough or an infected wound. If needed, it can be treated with feverfew, borage or lavender.[11]


Chills are mostly associated with cold weather or being submerged in cold water for a long period of time. Although this condition is mild and is not a disease, it has claimed the lives of Mosskit[16] and Hollykit[17]. Kits and elders are more at risk of dying when they get a chill. Licking a cat's fur the wrong way gets the blood flowing again. A poultice of lavender, catmint and feverfew is also a good remedy.[18]

Other Diseases

Several other diseases were mentioned in the books; however, the cats do not have names for it. Examples include the conditions of Pebblefur[19], Shellheart[20], and Tawnyspots[21].



Wounds are injuries when the skin and the muscles beneath are torn, cut, or punctured. They may put a cat's life in danger due to blood loss, infections, or the damage of the organs. Wounds are the most common injuries, due to the cats always fighting enemy Clans, badgers, or foxes.

Minor wounds heal on their own in no time, but severe wounds must be treated by a medicine cat. This treatment includes cleaning it thoroughly with the tongue, stopping the bleeding by pressing cobwebs on it, and applying poultices to prevent infection and help it to heal. Herbs used in the poultices include goldenrod, marigold, burdock root or (in the case of rat bites) wild garlic. If the wound becomes infected, chervil or horsetail is used as well. The pain can be eased with poppy seeds or willow bark.[3]


Sprains are injuries to ligaments of a joint, caused by being stretched beyond their normal capacity and possibly torn.[22] It causes severe pain and decreased ability to move the joint. The cat must rest for several days.

Joint Dislocation

Joint dislocation is the displacement of a bone from its normal joint. Medicine cats treat this condition by first feeding the patient poppy seeds to make them sleepy so they don't feel it as much, and then forcing the limb back into the joint.[23]

Cracked Pads

The paw pads may crack while walking long distances on hard surfaces, or due to cold weather. Elders are especially prone to this condition. It is treated with a poultice of coltsfoot or yarrow. Dock leaf poultices are also used to cool cracked pads.

Broken Bones

A broken bone is usually the result of an accident, such as falling down from a high place,[24] or being hit by a monster.[25] Cats most often break their legs, and while medicine cats try to bind the bone with cobwebs, the injury usually results in the cat remaining crippled for the rest of his or her life. The only cat known to fully recover after breaking a leg was Cinderheart.[26] A more severe injury is when a cat breaks his or her backbone. This results in the cat being unable to feel or move parts of his or her body.[27] If the break is bad enough the cat will be killed on or shortly after impact.[27] Briarlight broke her backbone, and as a result, her back legs no longer function.[28] Wildfur also broke his backbone, and since he only sat in his nest all day, he got fluid in his lungs and eventually died from not exercising.[27]

Book Mentions

Chest Infections

Chest infections mentioned in the Warriors books come in three stages; whitecough, greencough and blackcough. Little is known about blackcough; the black may be blood.


Rat-Borne Infections

Loss of Sensory Perception

  • In Bluestar's Prophecy, Whitepaw is blinded in one eye after a fight with a badger.[68]
  • In Into the Wild, One-eye is described as being virtually blind and deaf due to old age.[69]
  • In Fire and Ice, Brokenstar is blinded by Yellowfang as punishment for his deeds.[70]
  • In A Dangerous Path, Snowkit is revealed to be deaf.[15] Although his mother tries to train him to be a warrior, he is taken away by a hawk.[14] Dappletail tells about her own first litter; one of her kits was born deaf, and later it disappeared, thought to be taken by a fox.[71]
  • In Firestar's Quest, Longtail is blinded after a rabbit scratches his eyes.[72]
  • In The Sight, Jaykit is revealed to be blind.[73]
  • In Dark River, Rock is mentioned to be blind because of old age.[74]

Joint Aches

  • In Forest of Secrets, Smallear's joints are stiff, and Yellowfang says they are the worst case she has seen in moons.[75]
  • In Midnight, Speckletail complains of aching joints due to damp weather.[76]
  • In The Sight, Mousefur complains of aching joints due to a cold draft.
  • In The Forgotten Warrior, Sorreltail has stiffness in her hip joints.[77]

Cracked Pads

  • In Forest of Secrets, One-eye has cracked pads from the cold.[78]
  • In Firestar's Quest, Firestar and Sandstorm get sore pads after walking on rocks.[79]
  • In Sunset, Goldenflower complains of cracked pads.[80]
  • In Sunrise, Purdy gets cracked pads from cold weather.[81]


  • In The Darkest Hour, Tigerstar loses all of his nine lives due to a single wound.[82]
  • In Eclipse, Squirrelflight gets a belly wound during the great battle.[26]

Joint Dislocation

Broken Bones


  • Whitecough and greencough are like a cough and pneumonia, respectively.[93]
  • Greencough's original name was blackcough. The name was changed before publishing Into the Wild, as it was thought that the new name reflected the disease better. Vicky stated that the mention of blackcough by Mothwing was an oversight on their part.[94]

See Also

References and Citations

  1. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 130
  2. 2.0 2.1 Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, pages 166-168
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, pages 134-136
  4. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 24
  5. 5.0 5.1 Revealed in Into the Wild, page 144
  6. Revealed in Moonrise, page 163
  7. Such as Minnowkit and her siblings in Twilight, Revealed on page 172
  8. Revealed in Moonrise, page 250
  9. Revealed in Rising Storm, page 250
  10. Revealed in Sunrise, page 214
  11. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; no text was provided for refs named smed
  12. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 68
  13. Revealed in Into the Wild, page 97
  14. 14.0 14.1 Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 95
  15. 15.0 15.1 Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 81
  16. Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 483
  17. Revealed in Dawn, page 126
  18. revealed in Erin Hunter chat
  19. Revealed in Code of the Clans, pages 68-69
  20. Revealed in Crookedstar's Promise, page 404
  21. Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 515
  22. Revealed in Eclipse, page 230
  23. Revealed in Moonrise, page 279
  24. Revealed in Dark River, page 131
  25. Revealed in Fire and Ice
  26. 26.0 26.1 Revealed in Eclipse
  27. 27.0 27.1 27.2 27.3 Revealed in Fading Echoes, page 168
  28. Revealed in Fading Echoes, pages 173-174
  29. Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 227
  30. Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 187
  31. Revealed in Rising Storm, page 110
  32. Revealed in Sunset, page 150
  33. Revealed in The Sight, page 7
  34. Littlecloud reports that an elder has died of greencough - The Sight, page 323 - and this is assumed to be Boulder as he does not appear in The Sight and all record of him is lost
  35. Revealed in The Sight, page 11
  36. Revealed in The Sight, page 323
  37. Revealed in Long Shadows, page 166
  38. Revealed in Long Shadows, page 239
  39. Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 86
  40. Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 87
  41. Revealed in Code of the Clans, page 42
  42. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 71
  43. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page ThunderClan Medicine Cats
  44. Revealed in Crookedstar's Promise, page 445 and 447
  45. Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 262
  46. Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, page 292
  47. Bluefur goes on to become Bluestar, page 497, and Rosepaw receives her warrior name, Rosetail, page 315
  48. Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 85
  49. Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 294
  50. Revealed in Rising Storm, page 280 and 283
  51. 51.0 51.1 Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 113
  52. Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 95
  53. Revealed in Moonrise, page 166
  54. Revealed in Moonrise, page 211
  55. Revealed in Starlight, page 171, 196, 249
  56. Revealed in Twilight, page 172
  57. Revealed in Twilight, pages 163, 197, 168, 173, and 219
  58. Revealed in Twilight, page 219
  59. Revealed in Sunrise, pages 212-215 and 220
  60. Revealed in Cats of the Clans, page 2
  61. Revealed in Starlight, page 313
  62. Revealed in Midnight, page 249, 268
  63. Revealed in Secrets of the Clans, page 66
  64. Revealed in Into the Wild, page 188
  65. Revealed in Crookedstar's Promise, page 431
  66. Revealed in Firestar's Quest, page 463
  67. Revealed in Yellowfang's Secret, page 272
  68. Revealed in Bluestar's Prophecy, allegiances
  69. Revealed in Into the Wild, allegiances
  70. Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 268
  71. Revealed in A Dangerous Path, page 82
  72. Revealed in Firestar's Quest, page 30
  73. Revealed in The Sight, pages 35-36
  74. Revealed in Dark River, page 3
  75. Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 160
  76. Revealed in Midnight, page 209
  77. Revealed in The Forgotten Warrior, page 59
  78. Revealed in Forest of Secrets, page 45
  79. Revealed in Firestar's Quest, page 241
  80. Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 247
  81. Revealed in Sunrise, page 234
  82. Revealed in The Darkest Hour, page 234
  83. Revealed in Moonrise, page 277
  84. Revealed in Twilight, page 288
  85. Revealed in Sunset, page 22
  86. Revealed in SkyClan's Destiny, pages 70-77
  87. Revealed in Fire and Ice, page 183
  88. Revealed in Dark River, page 103
  89. In Eclipse she receives her warrior name, Cinderheart, after training hard to recover from her injury, pages 317-318
  90. Revealed in Fading Echoes, page 174
  91. At the end of Fading Echoes she is still living and has received her warrior name, Briarlight, page 176
  92. Revealed in Cloudstar's Journey, chapter 8
  93. Revealed in Erin Hunter Chat 3
  94. Revealed on Vicky's Facebook page.
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