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3 Things to Remember When Feeding Your FIV-Positive Cat

The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV, mainly attacks the immune system, causing an infected cat’s immune function to weaken and deteriorate over time. Because of that, FIV-positive cats are more prone to developing secondary diseases and infections. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re incapable of living normal, happy lives—they are. The key is in taking good care of their immune system.

Even for us humans, eating the right foods is essential to maintaining good health. Anyone who’s looking to live longer, or overcome an illness, often makes serious changes to their diet. That’s because the condition of our immune system is mostly dependent on the nutrients we consume. This is especially true for FIV-positive cats. Their diet can either make or break their chances of enjoying a long, disease-free life.

In this article, we’re going to guide you through 3 things you need to remember when feeding your FIV-positive cat to keep them healthy as can be.


Stay Away from Dairy

3 Things to Remember When Feeding Your FIV-Positive CatDespite the many TV commercials and social media ads we’ve seen where cats are happily lapping up a bowl of milk, most of them are actually lactose-intolerant. That means they can’t properly digest milk and other dairy products such as yogurt, cheese, and butter. Yes, cats drink milk without any issues during kittenhood, but once they stop nursing, their body loses the enzyme called lactase, which allows them to digest it.

When adult cats drink milk, the undigested lactose stays in their gut and ferments because of the bacteria, resulting in stomach problems such as bloating, flatulence, and diarrhea. Also, dairy products, in general, contain a lot of excess calories that can promote unnecessary weight gain and add unhealthy amounts of fat in your FIV-positive cat’s diet.


Say No to Plant-Based Diets

Plant-based or vegan diets are a no-go even for non-FIV cats, but especially so for FIV-positive ones. Cats are obligate carnivores, so if there’s one thing that should be in their diet, it’s definitely animal meat. By nature, cats rely on animal meat for very particular types of protein and nutrients; three of which can only be derived from animal tissue: taurine, retinol, and arachidonic acid.

3 Things to Remember When Feeding Your FIV-Positive CatTaurine is an essential amino acid that plays a vital role in a cat’s health. Without it, cats can go blind or develop heart problems and digestive disturbances. Retinol, on the other hand, is an active form of vitamin A. Cats need to consume enough of it from their diet to stay healthy. If they don’t, they can suffer from skin issues and night blindness.

Lastly, we have arachidonic acid, which is also an essential amino acid. Cats can’t produce arachidonic acid on their own, so it needs to be supplied through their diet regularly—the amino acid aids in blood-clotting, skin growth regulation, gastrointestinal functions, and anti-inflammatory responses.


Give Kibble in Moderation

3 Things to Remember When Feeding Your FIV-Positive CatDry cat food, commonly known as dry kibble, is a favorite among cats and cat owners alike. What’s not to like, right? It’s affordable, handy, easy to clean up, and for cats, it tastes great. However, if dry kibble is always your FIV-positive cat’s main entrée, they’re bound to get sick.

The most common condition that develops in cats that eat a lot of dry kibbles is feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD)—urinary obstruction, to be specific—which can be fatal if left untreated. That’s pretty much because they’re not getting enough water from their food and are basically living in a constant state of dehydration. Since cats mostly depend on their meals for moisture, it’s very important to lay off the dry kibble. You can go for canned wet cat food instead. If you don’t know which one to get, feel free to check out our favorite wet cat food choices here.

Most cats don’t’ take too well to any changes, especially diet-related ones, so if you do decide to transition your cat to wet cat food, you’ll need to do it gradually. You can start off by mixing in some dry kibble with wet cat food to see how they react. It may take a bit of experimenting, but it’s going to be worth it when you see them healthy and thriving.


Have you ever cared for an FIV-positive cat? How did you go about it? Let us know in the comments!