Feline immunodeficiency virus affects up to 8% of pet cats in Australia and up to 25% of feral cats. The disease can be extremely serious by leaving cats open to viruses and bacterial infections but can be carefully managed by a caring pet owner. Here are some tips to help your cat live with feline immunodeficiency virus.
Manage their diet
Cats with FIV often struggle with having a low appetite and may be vulnerable to sore gums and oral infections, which can make eating painful. However, in order to keep their immunity as high as possible and maintain weight, it is important that you ensure they continue to eat and drink. Vets can often give you information on choosing a very high calorie and nutrient enriched food so that they can get as much as possible of the nutrition they require with the least effort.
Cats with FIV also need to drink a lot of water, particularly if the weather is warm, to keep their kidneys functioning smoothly. Ensure that your cat has access to cool and fresh water so they will have plenty of opportunities to stay hydrated.
Keep them safe
FIV is passed on through fighting (scratching and biting), so it's important to keep your FIV positive cat inside to stop them from passing on the infection. Many viruses they will be vulnerable to are also passed on through fighting, including cancers and FeLV. Additionally, cats with FIV are vulnerable to abscesses and skin infections, which can be triggered by fighting. Keeping your cat inside and safe is best for everyone.
Female cats with FIV can have difficulties with pregnancy, including spontaneous abortion and hard-to-stop bleeding. This can be very detrimental to your cat's health, so spaying or neutering your cat and managing any interaction with other cats is very important.
Regular vet checks
It's important, if you know that your cat has a reduced immune system due to their virus, that you get them regularly reviewed by a vet. They can easily catch extra health issues early using simple checks such as checking for consistent weight and external observations for abscesses and sores. A vet is also a great source of advice for any queries or concerns you might have over your cat's general energy levels and mood during a difficult time.
Cats with FIV can often have a relatively long and happy life with minimal health complications. A vet clinic can be a valuable resource in maximising your cat's happiness during this time.