our 1 year old cat has FIV

by Sam Savage
(England)

My daughters cat has got the fiv virus, she is one yr old. the vet has done the blood test and thinks she will have had this virus passed onto her from her mum. Our cat has never been outside, except on a harness with us.
She has not really grown and her coat is oily looking, she has no energy.
She has had three courses of antibiotics, which help to pick her up a little, her glands go down and the gingivitis in her mouth eases.
We are not able to afford to continually take her to the vet for antibiotics for the rest of her life.
We have been giving her a herbal vit c and echinachea drops to try to help her immune system. She is never going to be cured of this, but i am worried that she will not ever have a life? all she does is sleep and try to eat. will she naturally die of this ? are we making her suffer by not being able to afford antibiotics all of the time ? Is is cruel to keep her alive if we cant get a cure for her ?
What normally happens to young cats when they have this virus ?

Sorry for all these questions !!
Many thanks in advance if you can answer sometime

Best wishes
Sam


ANSWER:

Sam,

It is heartbreaking to have a cat with FIV, especially when the symptoms are exhibited so young. Like FIP (feline infectious peritonitis), FIV has no cure. A goodly portion of those with FIV don’t show symptoms until they are 4-5 years old and others live full lives without any problems. However, although it’s young for your cat to show symptoms, the good news is that it has been caught early. I wouldn’t give up just yet.

Remember that FIV is like AIDS and it’s the secondary infections that have to be watched closely and treated immediately even if they seem minor. So yes, you will have to be vigilant for any signs of illness, hopefully for many years to come. Understandably, antibiotic regimens and vet care is expensive and can be overwhelming. It sounds like you have done everything right so far. You’ve gotten medical care, antibiotics, and provided herbal vitamin C and Echinacea drops. (I will give you a link to another immune strengthener that I’ve read a lot of good things about that you might try. I’ll put it at the end of this note.) Keep in mind that your efforts may only be rewarded with a few extra months for her…or it could be years. Some cats may go downhill continuously while others just have recurrent illness in between periods of reasonable health and activity. It’s important to know which category your cat falls into.

She is displaying the symptoms of a poor coat condition, gingivitis, and loss of appetite which are fairly common results. Some cats also have chronic infections of the skin, urinary bladder, eye conditions, diarrhea and upper respiratory issues etc. You say that she sleeps a lot and tries to eat. Sleeping a lot is normal for even a healthy cat and not being able to eat much is typical of any animal or person that just feels crappy. It is important to see if she can perk up a bit in the next six months by trying a few things…and then go from there. If there is improvement in her quality of life you can continue to try to raise the level. If there is no improvement or there is still deterioration then you have a huge decision to make. Antibiotics will be a frequent regimen in the chronic stage. I have had to put being humane above my personal feelings several times with my cats rather than see them suffer and it is never easy. Hopefully you won’t have to get to that place but if no improvement comes the cat will suffer severe wasting late in the disease process and will succumb due to continuous fevers and infections that weaken it.

  • Start by weighing your cat. Since they won’t stand still on the scale I usually first weigh myself and then get weighed again while holding the cat. Write down the weight and the date. Do this weekly.


  • Feed the cat a good diet of quality high protein cat food (make sure it has taurine). No uncooked food.


  • Give supplements such as buffered vitamin C (sodium ascorbate) and vitamin E which helps the immune system. Also consider anti-oxidants, Omega3/ Omega6 fatty acids, anti-inflammatory drugs, Echinacea, and lots of water. Many of these are contained in the product I’ll list at the end.


  • Give your FIV cat tons of love and affection. It goes a long way to helping keep the cat stress-free. Stress elevates many problems with cats.


  • Be vigilant for secondary infections and get treatment as soon as you can.


  • Many infections that go hand in hand with FIV can be treated with antibacterial and antifungal medications but they become more difficult to treat as the disease progresses. Most antiviral drugs are not effective and there are a few that are claimed to help that simply have no evidence or testing to back up that claim.

    When I was going through a bunch of my notes to respond to your questions I came across a product that looked promising. Although I am giving you the link here…I see that you are not in the USA…so go to the link and print out a list of the ingredients in the product and see if you can get the equivalent in your area. There are 140 reviews by customers but a lot of them referred to dogs (it’s for cats & dogs). Here are 3 of the comments on the product that looked promising for your situation:

    Comments about Only Natural Pet Immune Strengthener:

    I have a cat that is 7 yrs old and she has FIV virus, and because of it her immune system is not very strong, but this has helped a lot, but it does take a couple of weeks to start seeing the results. And although FIV has no cure whatsoever, this vitamins has helped to strengthen her immune system, which I'm really happy about it =-)By Princesinha from Glendale, CA

    I am thrilled with this product! My cat, Sammy, was diagnosed FIP positive when he was a year and given a year to live - at the time our holistic vet treated him with Essiac Tea - long story short, now he's 12! Two years ago he had a scary bout of vomiting and diarrhea which our vet thought was FIP related - I put Sam on the Only Natural Pet Immune Strengthener, 1/2 a capsule once a day along with a flower essence immune support product and a little Primadophilus all mixed with water in an eye dropper. He's not only been super healthy, he's playful as a kitten! And luckily he's very good natured - my Sammy doesn't fight 'medicine' ! I'm very happy with the results! By Bobbie Marie Smith from Livermore, CA

    I chose this product originally as an experiment to help my new kitten who was born with FIP to see if it would help with his immune system and keep him with me longer. So far so good. I started when he was 4-6 months old and he will be 3 years old this July, 2010. My veterinarian is even calling me to try it with some of his new patient's that have been diagnosed to see if it will help them as well. Kieran is doing great!!! and I am elated. I use it everyday in his soft food. He doesn't always like it but he get's it anyway. By Steph the cat lover from Waco, Tx

    As I mentioned, you can print out the ingredients and see if you can get something similar in your area. Here is the link to the Homepage of the company but I couldn’t find a direct link to the product. Once you are at the site in the very top right corner it asks cat or dog? Put cat…in the box alongside that…put in Immune Strengthener and it should pop up. It looks like it runs around $25 for 90 pills but it’s about a 3 months’ supply. Maybe it’s cheaper where you are. Anyway, take a look and see if it’s something that interests you.

    Only Natural Pet Store

    My best wishes go to you and your daughter and I hope you have some success in helping this young critter. I hope I answered your questions. Let me know how things turn out. You can email me via the Contact Page on this site or by using the comment link.

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