You have been searching for a cat to adopt at the local shelter and there’s one that has really caught your eye. Unfortunately, the medical report of the cat says that it is FIV positive.
You’re worried about the possibility of this new cat passing on the virus to your existing cats. Or you worry about the quality of life for an FIV cat.
Before you tell yourself “next”, it’s essential to know that FIV is not a death sentence.
With your love, patience, and understanding, an FIV positive cat can lead a long, fulfilling life.
This article will help you learn more about FIV, dispelling myths and shedding light on the truths of living with an FIV positive cat.
What Is FIV In Cats?
FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s a medical condition whereby a virus in the cat weakens or attacks its immune system.
The virus is transmitted through the body fluids of the infected cat via fights or mating.
Cats that have FIV are prone to getting sick and infections.
This condition is also known as feline aids.
This is because the immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off foreign bodies as compared to a non-FIV cat.
You can’t visually tell if the cat has FIV unless you do a blood test. Many such cats don’t show any symptoms at all for months or even years.
While there’s currently no cure for FIV but with proper care and management, these cats can lead normal healthy lives.
Signs Of FIV In Cats
Although there are many FIV cats that don’t exhibit symptoms, it is important to recognize them when it does occur.
- dull fur
- lack of appetite
- chronic loose stools
- inflammation of the gums
- bad breath
- lack of energy
The thing about FIV cats is that there’s no one specific symptom that’s caused by the Feline Immunodeficiency virus.
If you do notice your cat having one or more of the above signs for a few days, it’s best to bring it to the vet asap.
The faster the vet can resolve the issue the better chance of preventing more complications in your FIV cat.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Positive Cats Lifespan
One important thing that you need to know and come to terms with is the lifespan of such cats.
The lifespan of an FIV cat varies from cat to cat thus it can be difficult to predict.
About 20-25% of diagnosed cats live about 4-5 years.
The good news is that many healthy FIV positive cats can live a normal life span as non-FIV cats.
At some point, the immune system is strong enough to suppress the virus.
Thus it is very important to do what you can to strengthen your cat’s immune system as soon as possible.
We will touch more on this later.
Can FIV Cats Live With FIV Negative Cats?
Yes, it is possible if all the cats are properly socialized from the start.
If one of the cats has a tendency to be aggressive to others, then there’s a chance of a fight happening and the virus spreading.
However, if the existing cats can live in harmony with the FIV cat then all is good.
The risk of transmission from sharing bowls and grooming each other is very low so there’s not much to worry about.
But I rather you follow the old adage of “Prevention is better than cure”.
It would be in the best interest of the FIV cat to be rehomed in a single cat family than one with other cats.
This will ensure that there’s less stress on the FIV cat and eliminate the risk of any transmission.
Boosting The Immune System Of FIV Positive Cats
As mentioned earlier, the most important thing you can do in order to prolong the life span of an FIV cat is to keep its immune system strong.
Learning how to give your cat the best care possible is important.
Here are a few ways that you can go about doing it.
Feed A Good Diet
You are what you eat.
This rule applies to humans and it applies to our pets as well. Feed a good diet and it can help transform the life of your cat.
If you adopted your cat from a pet adoption drive at the local shelter, chances are it has been on kibble or dry food diet.
A dry food diet isn’t healthy for any cat and even more for cats with an underlying medical condition.
It contains a large percentage of carbs that cats can’t digest.
Furthermore, dry food contains no moisture which can cause chronic kidney diseases for cats.
Best Cat Food For A FIV Positive Cat
It’s the most natural diet for them as cats are obligate carnivores. This means that their body needs a high-protein diet to thrive and be healthy.
Here’s my story about my cat who is FeLV.
In some ways, FeLV and FIV cats do share some similarities.
They both have compromised immune systems that can lead to many health issues.
I found out that my cat was FeLV positive after running some blood tests at the vet for a cat cold that wouldn’t go away.
That led to many days of researching about improving his quality of life.
I did get him some supplements to help bolster his immune system but the biggest change came when I made the change to a raw diet for him.
Many of his niggling health issues started to disappear and he got stronger.
It has been more than a decade and he still loves his raw chicken and organ meat every day.
Switching to a raw diet can take time so be prepared for it. However, the benefits for your cat will be tremendous.
Feed Important Supplements
Besides needing a high-protein diet, cats also need a variety of nutrients and supplements.
When a cat catches its prey, there’s a high chance that it will eat everything.
To make a raw meat diet more complete, it is also important to feed your cat organ as muscle meat such as liver, kidney, heart and gizzard.
Both organ and muscle meat contain many good vitamins and minerals that cats need.
Taurine is an essential amino acid that cats need but are not able to produce naturally in adequate quantities.
Taurine is very important for cats and it helps to keep many of their main organs healthy and functioning well.
A lack of this nutrient can be very dangerous for your kitty.
Omega 3 is a fatty acid that isn’t only healthy for humans but also for FIV positive cats.
Our main source of Omega 3 is normally from fish but too much fish isn’t good for cats.
Fish meat contains an enzyme that can interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B. Plus there’s also a risk of mercury poisoning from eating too much fish.
The best way to introduce Omega 3 to your cat is with a high-quality Omega 3 supplement that’s meant for pets.
Don’t Let Your Cat Get Fat
It’s important to keep your cat’s weight in check.
A cat that is overweight or obese will run into many health issues over time.
Here are some health problems that can arise from a cat that’s too fat:
- Urinary bladder stones
A dry food diet can cause fast weight gain in a cat due to the high carbohydrate content.
With a raw food diet, your cat will get the protein it needs and this helps to keep the weight in check.
It’s fine to give your cat a treat every now and then but do note that treats can contain a high amount of carbs so make sure to moderate it.
Play With Your Cat
Cats aren’t exactly the most active and interactive pets as compared to dogs.
They will play by themselves or with you occasionally but most of the day is spent eating and sleeping.
Kittens are more active and naturally playful due to their high energy reserves. As cats age, they tend to be less active.
If you are adopting a senior cat, make sure to schedule some play time daily.
Cats like toys that they can hunt and chase. So toys that can move and resemble prey will trigger the hunter in them.
If all else fails, there’s always the red laser pointer that cats love to chase.
Just don’t point it in your cat’s face as it can harm their sensitive eyes.
When To Put Down A Cat With FIV?
Sometimes, even with our best efforts, the virus load is just too much for the cat’s body to handle.
If the cat isn’t eating or drinking, is in pain, hiding and there’s a drastic decrease in the quality of the cat’s life, then euthanasia might be the most humane decision you can make.
It will be a very hard decision to make and one that you will need to find the answer from within your heart.
Do what’s best for your cat and not for yourself.
If there’s one takeaway from this article, please remember that having FIV for a cat is not a death sentence.
Yes, it is something that can be fatal but there are many FIV infected cats that have lived happy, healthy and complete lives.
If the cat that you want to adopt has FIV, don’t let it be a deterrent.
You have what it takes to give your new cat a loving forever home.