Feline AIDS is a disease that affects about 3% of all cats living in the US. The key to keeping your cat healthy is gathering as much information you can about the disease. You should understand how it is transmitted as well as what you can do to protect your cat from being infected with it. If your cat should be sick with Feline AIDS then you will want to know how to treat your cat in the best possible way. The following information is designed to offer some basic information about Feline AIDS.
What Is Feline AIDS?
Feline AIDS (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is very similar to human AIDS in the it affects the cat’s immune system making it harder and harder for him/her to ward off infections. Even the smallest bacterial infections can become deadly to a cat that is suffering from Feline AIDS. This virus can lay dormant in your cat for literally years before causing a problem. This is why having your cats tested each and every year is very important. The thing that typically kills a cat who is suffering from Feline AIDS is the secondary infection that typically occurs as a result of a weakened immune system. There are some treatments available but to date there is no cure for this life threatening feline virus.
How Do Cats Get Feline AIDS?
There are a couple of different ways that a cat can become exposed to Feline AIDS. The most common is by way of a bite from another infected cat. This usually happens in cats who either live outdoors or have a tendency to go outdoors often and have never been vaccinated for the virus. The other way a cat can get Feline AIDS is at birth in kittens who are born to a cat who has the virus. While the latter is less common in general, there is still a small chance that infection can occur in this way. A cat who was born with the virus may live to be about 18 months to two years old before any symptoms arise. The best thing to do is to keep your cat inside at all times and away from other cats who are exposed to the outdoors. If you have more than one cat then have them both tested and then once you are sure they are negative, work toward keeping them that way.
Stages of Feline AIDS
There are actually three very distinct stages of Feline AIDS. These are called acute, latent and final. When a cat is in the acute stages of Feline AIDS, a few symptoms could present themselves. In some cases the symptoms will go completely unnoticed but they typically occur just about 6 to 8 weeks after the disease has been contracted. These symptoms are swollen lymph nodes and fever. During the latent stage is when the illness is actually lying dormant. This could last for many years before the disease progresses or becomes evident at all. The latent stage also marks the period in which the virus begins to slowly attack the cat’s immune system. By the time the cat is in the final stage of Feline AIDS many things will begin to go wrong. The cat will probably lose his/her appetite, lose weight, become generally lethargic and develop a fever. This is when most people realize there is something wrong with their cat.
Once a cat has reached the final stage of Feline AIDS his/her immune system will be pretty much shot. This is when many different complications can arise. Most of the time things like skin infections, respiratory infections and anemia develop. Basically anything that can go wrong with your cat’s health will during this stage. Sadly, once this stage is reached most cats who are ill will not even have a year left to live. The key during this time is to try and keep the cat as comfortable as possible. Some people opt for euthanasia if they feel their cats are suffering too much. This is an individual decision that can only be made with careful thought and deliberation. Other people do everything they can to try and save their cat, spending thousands of dollars on blood transfusions and bone marrow transplants.
Caring for a Cat With Final Stage Feline AIDS
The one thing that you will have to do when trying to take care of a cat who is sick with Feline AIDS is to keep him/her as comfortable as possible. You must do your best to make sure the cat eats and drinks. Sometimes this will involve hand feeding bland foods like jarred baby food. You may also get your cat to drink some chicken broth. Your cat will not feel like eating so it will be up to you to be sure that he does eat at least a little something. Often when you start spoon feeding baby food the cat becomes slightly interested in the taste and smell of the food. Other times it is a struggle all the way through the feeding.
It can be very sad to watch your beloved cat suffer from a horrible disease such as Feline AIDS. In fact, it can be truly heart breaking. Even with recent advancements in veterinary medicine, this disease almost always claims the life of cats who are infected with it. The only thing an owner can do is commit to treating the cat in the best possible way and hope for the best possible outcome. There have been rare cases in which the virus was arrested but remission is always a possibility in the future.