Cats with the feline immunodeficiency virus (DIV) are at risk of developing severe health issues because of their compromised immune system. But you can help your cat to live a long and comfortable life. Here is how you can work with your vet and your feline companion to keep your cat comfortable and free of health issues.
Secondary Health Issues Are the Real Problem
The DIV does't generate its own symptoms in your cat. It suppresses the immune system so your cat's body can't respond as effectively to illness and injury. At the first sign of a health issue, your vet will want to see your cat and prevent the problem from overwhelming your cat's system. What you can do to help is become more aware of the signs that your cat has a problem.
Some of the symptoms of a health problem in your cat include:
- Rough-looking fur with mats in it.
- Poor appetite and a sudden weight loss.
- Sores in the mouth and on the gums.
- Frequent diarrhea and vomiting.
- Bladder and urinary tract infections.
- Seizures, tremors or unsteadiness when walking.
These may be the result of a minor problem, but they will become a major issue in your DIV cat if left untreated.
How You Can Help Your Cat at Home
There are a number of ways you can work with your cat at home to keep them from becoming ill or injured. During the time you spend with your cat, you'll also be watching for signs of injury or an infection.
Keep your cat indoors - If your cat comes into contact with a sick animal when outdoors, they can easily pick up an illness that stresses their immune system. Your cat can also pass the DIV to other healthy cats through their saliva.
Tailor your cat's diet - Your veterinarian will help you choose a high protein, low grain diet for your cat. This gives your cat the energy they need without putting stress on their digestive system to deal with the low-value items, such as grains.
Watch your cat use the litter box - If your cat urinates outside of the litter box or they become vocal when in the box, they may have pain when urinating. This indicates a kidney or urinary tract infection.
Watch for dental issues - Look for signs that your cat has trouble eating. Gently open your cat's mouth and look for sores on the lips or gums. Look for red and inflamed gum tissue. Check your cat's mouth after they finish their meal. Some cats respond well to a gentle massage of their gums with your finger, which gives you an opportunity to look for dental problems.
Have a daily grooming session with your cat - Help your cat keep their coat in good shape by brushing them every day. Look for tiny mats and brush or cut them out before they become a problem. Feel along your cat's skin for sore, swollen areas, which may be an abscess. Look for cuts or scratches on the skin. Feel around your cat's joints for swollen lymph nodes, which can mean there is an infection in the cat's body.
Don't hesitate to contact your vet if you find something suspicious. What would be a minor scratch on a healthy cat can turn into a major infection in your DIV positive feline. For more information, contact a local animal clinic like University Pet Hospital.