This page: Any owner will want to do the best for their FIV cat, how should they look after their cat? We give our experience of caring for over 100 FIV cats.
How do you care for an FIV cat?
We are often
asked by those who take on, or discover they have an FIV cat, what
they should do in terms of looking after their FIV cat. This usually
means, what they should do that is different or extra to what they
would do for any other cat.
Firstly we need to remind you that every cat is different; and every FIV cat is also different - it often seems from what one reads that having FIV makes a cat the same as every other cat with FIV, whereas, common sense shows that there are just as many individually different FIV cats as there are any other cat. So there are no common answers to anything, everything needs to take into account the individual animal, FIV or not.
So how do you look after an FIV cat?
Just the same as you look after any other cat really, but just being aware of the virus and what effect it may or may not have.
Basically your cat needs good food, a stress-free environment and attention if any health issues should appear. Just like looking after any cat!
A good mixed diet is important for the health of any cat, and FIV cats are just the same. Best avoid a limited diet of one type or brand of food; give good quality, with some variety is the basic advice. This will help keep any cat in the best of health which, in turn will maintain the immune system at its strongest.
We emphasise a variety so there is no danger of too much or too little of any one ingredient (minerals, vitamins etc) every cat has a slightly different need, so the variety will ensure a balance for any cat.
Remember, as every cat is different, they may need a slightly different diet, that will depend on their age, weight and any other issues they may have, so you need to get advice as to the most appropriate diet for your individual cat to take those differences into account - ask a good vet about appropriate dietary requirements - not for the FIV, but for everything else individual about your cat.
The environment in which a cat lives has a strong influence on its wellbeing. A stressful environment will put strain on all systems, including the immune system, so be aware of how your cat reacts to the environment - does the cat hide when visitors come? Is he/she always trying to get outside? Be aware of anything that seems to cause stress, and see if you can reduce that element.
If you can give your cat access to fresh air, we believe that is very beneficial. Any cat who lives in a closed environment will be exposed to all manner of pollutants in the air. Unless there is good ventilation, there will be a build up of all chemicals from air fresheners. cleaners etc as well as re-breathing all that is breathed out - so any bacteria breathed out, will likely be taken in again, wheres with good ventilation and fresh air, these pollutants will be removed before they are taken back into the lungs.
There must be something different we should do?
You need to understand what the virus is actually doing (see our page on this). Basically, the virus is very slowly reducing some of the immune cells that help the cat fight infection, so you need to reduce anything that might aggravate that process, and possibly see if there is anything more that might actually slow the process down even more.
The things to avoid as far as possible which might aggravate the damage the virus is doing are, avoid extra stress, avoid as far as possible infections, both of which can increase the speed of the virus replicating and thus damaging more immune cells. But bear in mind that in most cases the cat will have many years while the virus is present before it has sufficient influence to actually affect the cat's health. So no need to panic!
Simply be aware of what might cause stress, and keep the cat in an environment which minimises any infection risks.
Check out your vet's attitude to FIV
One thing that could be very important is to interview your vet! Find out his/her views on FIV and, more importantly, his/her experience of treating FIV cats. It is a sad fact that there are still many vets out there who have a poor understanding of the virus and will tend to put any problem the cat faces down to the FIV, whereas in reality the virus will usually be no more than an extra aggravation. So make sure your vet is happy to work with you should there be any health issues to deal with.
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