Helping Your FIV-Positive Cat To Have A Long And Comfortable Life

Posted on: 7 June 2016

The veterinarian diagnosed your cat with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). While unfortunate, you shouldn't consider this a death sentence for your cat. This virus grows slowly and, with your help, your cat can live a good, long life. Here is how FIV affects your cat's health and what you can do to help your cat stay healthy and be comfortable for many years.

The Impact of the Virus on Your Cat

This disease affects your cat by attacking its immune system. Your cat can no longer fight off simple infections that have little impact on a cat without FIV. Something as small as a mild cold or a scratch from another cat can develop into a major problem for your feline companion.

The impact on the immune system is what shortens the life of an FIV-positive cat. What you can do to help your cat is to keep it from becoming sick or injured, which puts stress on the immune system.

Watching for Signs of a Health Problem

Cats are adept at hiding their illnesses from their owners. You'll need to become diligent about watching for any signs of an injury or illness and get your cat to the vet before a minor problem becomes a life-threatening one for your cat. Here are some signs that your cat is struggling with a health problem:

  • rough and dull-looking fur
  • matts developing in the fur
  • appetite loss followed by weight loss
  • sores in the mouth and on the lips
  • frequent diarrhea
  • straining to urinate
  • painful urination
  • frequent coughing and sneezing

In the later stages of FIV, your cat can develop neurological symptoms, so you may observe:

  • unsteadiness on their feet
  • seizures

Caring for Your FIV-Positive Cat

There are several ways that you can support your cat to help them have a comfortable life.

  • Keep your cat indoors and away from other animals from which your cat can catch a disease or infection.
  • Spay or neuter your cat to reduce the stress on their reproductive system.
  • Work with your vet to design a high-protein diet for your cat that minimizes waste production while providing the energy your cat needs.
  • Help your cat keep its coat in good shape by brushing and combing it daily.
  • Look for scratches, rashes and abscesses on your cat's skin while helping it groom.
  • Feel around your cat's joints for swollen lymph nodes, indicating an infection.

Beyond these simple measures, your vet will want to see your cat every year for blood tests and a physical examination to track the progress of the feline immunodeficiency virus.