Adopting And Caring For An FIV Positive Cat

When looking for a new pet at the local animal shelter, people often pass over cats that have any chronic illnesses, especially those with the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). These cats need a good home, too, and can become great feline companions. When you are ready to adopt a cat, consider one that is FIV positive. Once you understand their illness, you'll be able to create a forever home for these often neglected cats.

How FIV Affects Your Cat

The feline immunodeficiency virus attacks your adopted cat's immune system. It is no longer able to fight off infection or disease. Minor scratches and colds can become a major problem if not attended to promptly. This virus grows very slowly, so your cat can live many years with it. Your role is to watch your furry friend for any signs of illness or injury and get them to the veterinary hospital for treatment quickly.

What Your Cat Doesn't Tell You

Your cat won't tell you when it's sick or has an injury. Instinct makes them hide any signs of weakness to the world around them. They can be battling a bacterial infection, cold virus or parasites without showing any signs until they become seriously ill. They may even have an injury that causes an abscess that goes unnoticed until the fur gets pulled off over the infected area.

Watch your cat closely for any signs of health problems. Some of the telltale signs include:

  • rough, matted fur
  • patches of missing fur
  • appetite and weight loss
  • sores in the mouth
  • frequent vomiting or diarrhea
  • urinating outside of the litter box
  • coughing and sneezing

In advanced cases of FIV, you'll see neurological symptoms, such as:

  • unsteadiness when walking
  • tremors and seizures

These are all signs in your FIV positive cat that it's time to contact the veterinarian. Early treatment of a problem will prevent your cat's immune system from becoming overwhelmed, causing more symptoms.

Keeping Your Cat Safe From Injury and Illness

You can help prevent your cat from developing an illness or injury through a few simple actions.

  • Keep your cat indoors to prevent contact with another animal with an infection or disease that could be passed on to your cat.
  • Never feed your cat raw food to reduce the risk of a bacterial infection.
  • Change your cat's diet to a high-protein food that is easy on the digestive system.
  • Check your cat's mouth, teeth and gums for any signs of infection. Foul breath odor can be a sign of an infection in the mouth.
  • Help your cat keep their coat sleek and mat free by brushing them daily. Look for scratches, punctures, rashes or other skin irritations as you brush your cat.
  • Feel around your cat's joints for any swollen lymph nodes. This is a sign of an infection.