– what it means and how to care for them
FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus might be a term you’re familiar with but is often misunderstood when it comes to knowing truly what that means for cats diagnosed with disease and how it will affect their lives. We wanted to delve a little deeper and help explain the virus to spread awareness and hopefully a little clarity for cat humans that may already own a cat with FIV or are considering adopting a cat with the illness.
FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
FIV is a disease that causes cats to have a weakened immune system if they are positive. Initially in the early stages, FIV can present as a more short lived illness in your cat that can be easy to miss. But after some time, FIV will progress into an immune system decline, becoming more obvious and easier to diagnose. Some cats can go a-symptomatic and even unnoticed for years before presenting with the virus and although there is no known cure, this doesn’t necessarily mean any sort of decreased life expectancy for your fur ball. Despite this, cats living with FIV may become prone to a variety of both common and chronic diseases which may put them more at risk, so it’s important to spot the symptoms and know the best ways to care for them and keep them safe.
Although symptoms may not be apparent for years in your fur baby, if your cat does start showing any of the following symptoms, it’s always a good idea to book in an appointment with your vet to check on the seriousness of the issues and potentially test for FIV:
- Poor coat condition
- Recurring fever
- Lack of appetite
- Inflammation of the mouth and gums
- Chronic infections of the eyes, skin, upper respiratory tract or bladder
- Constant diarrhoea
- Persistent eye issues
- Behavioural changes
- Sign of neurological disorders
- Slow and steady weight loss
How FIV is contracted
FIV can only be passed on and contracted between kitties via direct contact with other infected cats. If you know your cat is already infected with FIV, it’s super important to keep them indoors so they won’t pass on the illness to any of the neighbourhood moggies. The disease actually most commonly affects unneutered male cats. This is down to their territorial nature meaning they’re much more likely to get into a fight, and this can cause a spread if one cat is infected. FIV is passed on through bodily fluids and biting, so if an infected cat decides to get into a scrap with another local Tom, scratches and biting unfortunately can lead to the contraction of the illness.
Another way the disease is contracted is from a mother to her kittens during birth. However, most kittens are able to fight off the virus and can be cleared of FIV by the age of 6 months. Many cat humans worry about whether they can catch the disease themselves, however FIV can’t cross species so isn’t able to infect any other human or animal species, just the cats.
Can FIV be cured
Unfortunately for our felines, the short answer is no. Despite a preventative vaccine being available in America, its use is still controversial and not legal over here in the UK. Even though there is no cure though, cats that contract FIV are certainly not doomed. Our fabulous floofs can still live long and happy lives despite living with FIV. Cats that are positive with the disease still make for wonderful pets, though it is recommended they are the only cat child in the household due to risk of spreading infection to other kitten friends. This doesn’t mean they have to live out their day as an only furchild though, they can happily live side by side with other pets of different species, so there’s still plenty of opportunity to expand your pack if you do have a cat living with FIV.
Living with FIV
Despite often being overlooked in rescue centres for rehoming, cats living with FIV really are just like any other indoor cat. To support their illness, they need a high quality, balanced and complete feeding plan and we’re proud in the Republic that we can provide this with our delicious ingredients and FIV friendly recipes.
To ensure your FIV positive pal is as healthy as possible, it’s important to keep up to date with annual vet check ups and vaccinations, and if you do have any concerns at all you should contact your vet straight away. Again, this really is no different to your regular mog’s health and well being. If you are looking to adopt a new furry friend, rehoming a cat with FIV can be extremely fulfilling as they often are overlooked in shelters due to misunderstanding of the disease and what it means to live with it. If you’re looking for an indoors only fur-child and don’t yet share your space with any other cattos, then giving one of these beauties a home really would change their lives forever.
We’d love to hear from any of our citizens who have already signed up to the Republic with their FIV positive panthers, and are happy to share their stories of living with the illness and caring for their cat. Feel free to drop us a message over on our Insta, email at [email protected] or even drop your story into our Facebook Community for other cat people to read and spread awareness of FIV.
The Republic x
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By Lois Roberts