If Your Cat Has FIV -- Can Your Cat Still Live A Long and Normal Life

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FIV or feline immune-deficiency virus is a species specific infection affecting many cats, especially those of the feral population. If you have a cat that has contracted FIV, your cat can still live a long and normal life in your care.

The feline immune-deficiency virus or FIV is known as species specific. The virus is a retrovirus, in the same family as feline leukemia and feline aids virus. FIV is not known to be contagious to other non-feline pets within the home or to humans. This slow-acting virus cannot be passed on casually between other felines from litter boxes, water dishes or food dishes. In fact, the disease is spread through blood connections such as extremely bad infected gums, bite wounds, scratches and blood transfusions. If you have a cat that has contracted the virus, it is by no means a death sentence for your feline family member. It is obvious that this cat will require special care but even with FIV, your cat can live a normal full life.

I would like to introduce you to two such cats, neighbors of mine, names Bob and Tom. Both of these precious household pets have contracted the FIV infection. Thanks to the love and care of their pet parents who adopted them and saved them from “dooms day,” these loving cats can now live a long, normal happy life – and happy, loving cats they are! Tom and Bob are shown above, in all their glory, sitting by the open window. You see, Bob and Tom were inadvertently rescued as tiny kittens from the litter of a momma farm cat. She obviously had the FIV infection and passed it on to her offspring, which is very common in the feral cat population. Bob and Tom lost a sister in its early days of life but are flourishing very healthy some eight years later. No longer fitting in the palm of her hand, their pet parent states they are both a very healthy 25 pounds each.

The FIV infection in cats has stages quite similar to the human HIV infection. In stage one your cat’s immune system is compromised and may be noted with swollen glands (lymph nodes), fever and susceptibility to skin and intestinal infections. This stage lasts between 4 and 6 weeks, once exposed to the virus.

Stage two can lasts for many years, assuming your cat is an indoor cat, living a very healthy life. It is not uncommon for a cat to live up to 12 years with no signs of illness due to the FIV. There is no antiviral medication treatment when in the asymptomatic stages or while easing into this second stage of the secondary effects of the virus. In order to ward off your cat’s susceptibility to other diseases as a result of the lowered immune system, your doctor may prescribe medications specific to secondary diseases as well as encourage a healthy palatable nutritious diet. If your cat is kept indoors and follows specific veterinary orders and care, your cat will be a happy, normal family member.

Stage three of the FIV infection may occur far along in years where the immune deficient system weakens considerably, causing great susceptibility to secondary chronic infections, bacterial, viral and parasitic in nature. Since your cat’s immune system cannot fight off the infections, they multiply rapidly, causing opportunistic diseases. Some conditions that may occur are respiratory distress, intestinal infections, and skin and ear diseases. Some cancers may be prevalent as well as a case of anemia due to parasitic infections. Although it is necessary to know what to expect at some point throughout your cat’s life with FIV, the focus should be placed on opportune care of your beloved feline at this point in time.

According to documentation by the ASPCA, keeping your cat strictly indoors prevents contact with any disease causing agents that he may be susceptible to. Feed your cat a nutritional balanced diet that consists of no raw foods which could contain parasitic and bacterial agents. Your cat should most definitely be spayed or neutered and be sure that you keep a close relationship with your personal veterinarian. Visits are recommended twice yearly for wellness checkups, blood counts and urine analysis. Monitor your cat on a regular basis for any physical or emotional changes and report them to your doctor. Above all, provide a stress-free environment as well as shower your precious feline with ample love, attention and care that only a loving family can provide. Even with FIV, your cat can live a normal full life.

Bestfriends.org is full of happy success stories of felines with the FIV infection who were fortunate, as Bob and Tom, to find happy loving homes, when no one else would give them a second chance. They are the best of buds and do nothing without the other. Of course one is more social and dominant than the other – Tom, the lighter colored of the two is a little more in charge and social whereas Bob is a bit shyer. But typical cats they are not. They crave people contact and love all the attention you can bestow. If you have the heart and the home to give one of these cats a loving home for the rest of their natural life, consider the life you could be saving. Many people turn their heads when it comes to the care of any special needs animal, and takes a very special individual like you to offer your love, care and home. Your efforts never go unrewarded as these precious pets can sense your compassion and love with its’ unconditional loyalty.