Last week we talked about FIV, the symptoms and how the virus is spread. Today we’re going to be discussing how to care for an infected cat. As there isn’t a vaccination in the UK to prevent infection, there’s always a risk of an outdoor cat becoming infected, or even an indoor cat being infected if they live with a cat that has access to the big wide world. Additionally, there are FIV cats waiting to find new homes. If you’re considering adopting a FIV infected cat, these tips may help you understand what’s involved.
FIV Cats Need to Be Indoor Cats
Any cat that has the FIV virus can spread it to other cats, which is why it’s so important to keep them indoors as soon as you know they have the infection (or suspect infection and are waiting for confirmation from the vets). Keeping the cat indoors protects the other cats in the neighbourhood, but also helps protect infected cat as they have a weaker immune system. If you hate the idea of keeping a cat indoors you can use a secure cat fencing system that will stop the cat from escaping from the outdoor space and stop other cats from entering your garden too.
It’s important to remember that infected cats can easily catch other infections and diseases. Therefore hunting shouldn’t be encouraged and raw foods need to be avoided as they might carry bacteria.
Life Span and Treatments
Many cats can live with FIV for many years and enjoy a good life. However, some cats are more prone to catching infections and these can be severe. There’s also a greater cancer risk in cats with FIV. In many cases, the cat will not need to be put down and can live happily for many years without treatment. It is a good idea to vaccinate against cat flu. Evidence has suggested that repeated vaccinations can increase the symptoms, so always speak to your vet to decide which, if any, vaccinations are needed. Fleas can carry diseases so it is important to stay on top of flea control all year round.
Take the cat to see the vet every 6 months and each time the cat seems to be under the weather or displaying signs of infection.
Your Cat Family
If one of your cats has been diagnosed with FIV you will need to have all other cats in the home tested for the infection too. Ideally, FIV cats will be the only cats in the household, but some owners feel that the risk of the disease being spread through bowl sharing and grooming is so low that they decide to keep the cats together. You will need to take precautions if you do have a home with a FIV cat and non-infected cats. Make sure that the cats have separate food and water bowls and disinfect all bowls and litter trays to kill off the virus that is carried in saliva.