The feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is a frightening pathogen for cat owners. While it is impossible to predict how long your pet will live with FIV, there is no reason to give up on your furry friend. Some cats live healthily for many years after the initial infection.
The FIV pathogen does not manifest in a predictable way. It causes immediate symptoms in some cats, but may take several years to cause a noticeable effect in others. Your pet may also have bouts of sickness followed by long periods of health. The virus gradually cripples your cat's immune system, which leaves him vulnerable to secondary infections. These other infections cause many of the symptoms associated with FIV, according to the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. This is also why the disease's progression is so unpredictable. If your pet is lucky, he may not be exposed to pathogens that cause serious secondary infections, which can significantly increase his life span.
Veterinarians can diagnose FIV by conducting blood tests that screen for the antibody produced by your cat's body to fight the virus. They may recommend tests if your cat has chronic health problems or if he shows other symptoms of the disease, like swollen lymph nodes, vomiting or lethargy. The average life span of cats with FIV is roughly five years after diagnosis, according to the Central Texas Cat Hospital. Ask your vet for tips on how to keep your cat healthy and improve his life expectancy. He may prescribe antibiotics to fight secondary infections and recommend high-quality food for your pet. Remember, an FIV infection is not a good reason to have your cat euthanized unless he is in extreme, constant pain.
While your cat may not be pleased about it, you should make a few adjustments to his daily routine to boost his chances of survival. Have your FIV-positive cat fixed and keep him indoors at all times. You should also separate him from cats that don't have FIV. While FIV is not highly contagious among friendly felines, there is a chance that it can spread to other cats by sharing food or water dishes or during play fighting. Keeping other cats away will also reduce your infected cat's chances of contracting pathogens that cause secondary infections, according to the ASPCA.
Health and Nutrition
The key to increasing your cat's life expectancy is quality food and a stress-free environment. Make sure your pet always has access to water and a comfortable place to sleep. Check him for fleas, ticks and other parasites every week. While these pests are not a problem for most healthy adults, they are much more taxing on immune-compromised kitties. Administer antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications exactly as your vet recommends. Do not feed your cat any raw food, because his immune system cannot fight the common bacteria that lives on practically all uncooked organic material.
Always check with your veterinarian before changing your pet’s diet, medication, or physical activity routines. This information is not a substitute for a vet’s opinion.
Quentin Coleman has written for various publications, including All Pet News and Safe to Work Australia. He spent more tan 10 years nursing kittens, treating sick animals and domesticating semi-feral cats for a local animal shelter. He graduated from the University of Delaware with a bachelor's degree in journalism.