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. Each of these stages comes with its own set of health issues that a cat may experience. 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. Ensuring that your FIV cat lives a healthy, stress-free lifestyle is an important factor with this virus. Another thing you can do is to prepare yourself and learn how to take care of them when their body is no longer able to do so. To help get you started, we’ve compiled below the most common problems that FIV cats experience. We also included what you can do to make your feline family member feel more comfortable in such situations.
The initial stage of FIV is known as the acute phase. During this time a fever is one of the first symptoms your cat can experience. Along with a fever your cat can also experience diarrhea, loss of appetite, and swelling of the lymph nodes about four to six weeks after they contract the virus. This stage can last anywhere from a couple of 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 identify the virus.
Whether or not your cat has FIV, it’s best to take them to the vet if they have a fever. Especially if their fever has lasted more than 24 hours. At the animal clinic, your vet may administer intravenous fluids and suggest that your cat be admitted for a few days. Once your FIV cat is discharged, you should allow them to rest in a cozy cat bed and make 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. Cats are 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, balding (alopecia), ear infections, and skin lesions. All it takes is a simple scratch or a wound that did not heal properly for these skin infections to occur. While this is a serious issue, it is preventable. Checking your cat’s skin and coat regularly can help prevent these skin infections from happening. Look out for things like scaling, crusting, swelling, redness, pustules, or hair loss on a particular area of your FIV cat’s body. If you notice any of those things, take action immediately, call your vet. You can use creams or ointments, like Zymox Pet Cream, or VET ONE Topical Ointment, to soothe and heal their irritated skin.
As this virus progresses, FIV cats may start experiencing gastrointestinal issues. Things like diarrhea and vomiting, which can lead to server weight loss, dehydration, and death. To help fight off these symptoms, you can incorporate probiotics into your FIV-positive cat’s regular diet.
Probiotics, also known as good bacteria, are live microorganisms that help replenish the intestinal gut flora. They also 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 its overall health and well-being.
In the last stage of infection, the FIV virus weakens 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.
Unfortunately, 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 veterinarian immediately if you notice any sudden changes. If your cat has medications, make sure to administer them according to your veterinarian’s instructions.
In addition to monitoring your FIV cat, try to keep them from feeling stressed or anxious. You can create a comfortable environment for them inside your home, a safe space for them to rest. Start by moving their water and food bowls closer to where their bed is for easy access. It is also a smart idea to move their litter box closer to their bed as well. If they need to hop up to enter their litter box, then you may want to look into getting a new one that they easily walk into. Unfortunately, your feline friend may not be as active as they were 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.
Whether you are a pet parent, a volunteer, or a foster, it is important to know how to make an FIV cat comfortable and loved, especially in its last moments.