How to Make Your FIV Cat Feel More Comfortable
How to Make Your FIV Cat Feel More Comfortable
If you’re an experienced FIV cat owner, then you’re probably familiar with the three stages of FIV and the health issues involved with each one. Since FIV attacks the immune system, it doesn’t have a specific set of symptoms. Instead, it makes an FIV cat vulnerable to developing all sorts of complications. That means that as an FIV cat owner, there’s no way of knowing for sure what medical condition your feline friend will develop as the viral disease progresses. The best thing you can do, aside from making sure your FIV cat lives a healthy, stress-free lifestyle, is to prepare yourself and learn how to take care of them when their body is no longer able to hold up. To help get you started, we’ve compiled below the most common problems that FIV cats experience and what you can do to make your feline family member feel more comfortable in such situations.
During the initial stage of an FIV infection, also known as the acute phase, fever is one of the first symptoms to appear. It can develop, together with diarrhea, loss of appetite, and swelling of the lymph nodes, about four to six weeks after your cat contracts the virus. This phase can last for several days to several weeks, and can very easily go unnoticed. However, if you monitor your cat daily and pay close attention to changes in their behavior or appetite, you may be able to tell.
Whether or not your cat has FIV, it’s best to take them to the vet if they have a fever, especially if it’s been more than 24 hours. At the animal clinic, your veterinarian may administer intravenous fluids and suggest that your cat be admitted for a few days. Once your feline friend is discharged, you can help bounce back by allowing them to rest in a cozy cat bed and making sure they drink lots of water. Some cats may refuse to eat at first, but as they start to feel better they’ll slowly gain their appetite back.
If you’re struggling to get your cat to drink water, you can try getting a water fountain. Cats are naturally drawn to running water as opposed to standing water since they’re wired to think that stagnant water is dirty and unsafe. Switching from a water bowl to a drinking fountain may just entice your feline friend to hydrate more.
Aside from a recurring fever, FIV cats are also susceptible to developing skin issues, like skin abscesses, gum and mouth inflammation, ear infections, balding (alopecia), and skin lesions. These skin infections can result from a scratch or a wound that didn’t heal fast enough, allowing bacteria or fungi to enter. However, you can prevent your FIV cat from having these issues by checking their skin and coat regularly. Look out for things like scaling, crusting, swelling, redness, pustules, or hair loss on a particular area on your FIV cat’s body, and when you do, take action right away. You can use creams or ointments, like Zymox Pet Cream, or VET ONE Topical Ointment, to soothe and heal their irritated skin.
As FIV progresses, FIV cats may start experiencing gastrointestinal issues, like diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to severe weight loss, dehydration, and death. To combat these symptoms, you can incorporate probiotics into your FIV cat’s regular diet.
Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, are live microorganisms that help replenish the intestinal gut flora and prevent harmful bacteria from growing in number, thereby keeping the gut strong and healthy. Since 70% of the immune system is in the gut, probiotics can help boost an FIV cat’s immune function and improve their overall health and well-being.
By the time that FIV reaches the last stage of infection, the virus will have already weakened the immune system to the point where it’s no longer able to defend itself from diseases and infections. During this stage, symptoms that develop are a lot more severe. Immunological issues, such as lymphadenopathy (enlarged lymph nodes), leukemia (decreased number of white blood cells), anemia (low red blood cell count), and sometimes, even cancer—the most common one being lymphoma or cancer of the lymphatic system.
When your FIV cat’s infection reaches this phase, it’s best to just be there for them. Closely monitor their health status and contact your vet immediately if you notice any sudden changes. If your cat has medications, make sure to administer them according to your vet’s instructions.
Additionally, keep your FIV cat from feeling stressed or anxious by creating a comfortable environment for them inside your home. You can start by moving your cat’s food and water bowl, as well as their litter box, a bit closer to their bed or usual resting place for easy access. If they need to hop up to enter their litter box, then you may want to get one that they can easily walk into as they may not be as active as before. You can also add a layer of soft blankets around their sleeping area or get them a self-heating cat bed to keep them cozy and warm, especially during the cold seasons.