Travelling with your cat: Anxiety and Stress

This week’s blog has been written by Joanna Woodnutt, our ‘tame’ vet student. Jo is a final year student who has an interest in feline medicine, and is currently fostering ‘Sophie’ for us.

Good morning and welcome to the second in our ‘Travelling with your Cat’ series. This time we will be discussing anxiety and stress in the travelling cat.

The first thing to remember is that cats don’t like change. Change can bring about all sorts of stress-related illnesses and behaviours, which is why it’s really important not to force your cat to go anywhere- if they hate it, and you can avoid it, please don’t force them to travel!

Here are some top tips to help you get your cat ready for his journey:

Desensitisation

It’s not as obvious as it is with dogs, but it’s really important to get your cat used to his carrier before he heads off on his journey. A dog crate makes an excellent carrier and by leaving it in the house with his bed in it you’ll get him used to it. You can feed him in his carrier, and then start to take him on short car journeys, rewarding him when he returns- this can teach him that the carrier isn’t such a scary thing after all.

Sprays and Scents

One way to relax your cat without resorting to drugs is to use a scent or spray designed to relax cats. There are two types of sprays- those with calming natural oils, and those with pheromones. Feliway contains pheromones that cats release when they are happy, tricking the cat into thinking they’re relaxed. Feliway comes in a spray which is perfect for cat carriers.
A more natural alternative is the essential oils scents (like Rescue Remedy), which can calm a stressed cat using nice plants- a bit like lavender baths for humans!

Medication

Medicating your cat is not a good way to deal with anxiety in the long term, or if you travel often, but it is good for a one-off trip for instance if you’re moving house. You can talk to your vet who may be able to give you tablets to sedate your cat for the journey.

 

Hopefully this has helped you to understand some of the ways to help your cat relax before travel. Please join us in a fortnight for our final post in the series: Travel Sickness in Your Cat.

Travelling with your Cat: The Law

Today’s blog was written by our tame vet student Jo Woodnutt. Jo is one of our fosterers and is currently fostering ‘Sophie’- she’s very attached and we expect her to ‘fail’ sometime soon!

Welcome to the ‘Travelling with your Cat’ blog series. This first is about the law when travelling with your cat, and explains what your cat needs to do to be allowed to travel outside of the UK.

Photo by Amelia Hunt

Photo by Amelia Hunt

First, you must look up the entry requirements for the country you are visiting. Some will not allow any pets, others may allow pets under the P.E.T.S scheme. Others will have their own quarantine procedures. You don’t want to do a Johnny Depp and find the Australian Government on your back (read story here)!

Then there are specific rules to follow if you want your cat to come back to the UK with you. If you are going to an EU country or one listed in these guidelines, you must

  • Get a Pet Passport from a vet
  • Have a rabies vaccination (for your cat, not you!)
  • Have a microchip (plus read here for a lot of other reasons you should have one)
  • Use an ‘approved route‘ to travel back into the UK.

The Pet Passport

The ‘Pet Passport’ is a document that shows that your pet has had the necessary vaccinations and requirements for travel. Not all vets can provide one- they have to register as an ‘Official Veterinarian’ with APHA- but lots do, so check your usual vet practice and see whether they can help you. If not, your nearest APHA office should have the necessary details.

The passport becomes valid 21 days after the rabies vaccination and will remain valid for life provided subsequent vaccinations are kept up-to-date.

The Microchip

If you don’t already have a microchip, the vet will need to implant one. This is to ensure that each animal can be identified and tied to its passport- and therefore you can prove it has met all the necessary requirements to enter or re-enter the UK.

If your pet already has a microchip, the vet needs to read it and record the number on the pet passport and vaccination card. If there is a failure with the microchip, the vet can implant another but must fill out the necessary section in the passport.

The Rabies Vaccination

  • Your pet MUST receive a rabies vaccination before the passport is signed, even if they’ve had one in the past but no passport was produced.
  • Pets must be 12 weeks old or older at the time of the vaccination
  • Your pet must be microchipped BEFORE it has its vaccine, or it may have to be re-vaccinated!

An Approved Route

Sorry sailors, no private boats here- these routes have been approved by APHA to ensure they are safe and the appropriate customs officials are there too. A list of the routes is available from APHA. Please note that these routes are not obliged to carry your pet and this will be done at their discretion. Some will not allow more than one animal on at once, and others may restrict how many pets can travel with a passenger. Some routes may also require a ‘fitness to travel’ certificate from your vet, or a vet in the country that you have been visiting.

If you are not accompanying your pet (i.e if they are on a different flight), you must arrive within 5 days of your pet.

 

Travelling with your pet can be very rewarding if done in the right way. For more information please see this website which sets out all the rules and provides information about taking your pet outside of the EU, which carries its own set of problems.

Please head back in a fortnight to read the next in our series: Anxiety whilst Travelling

The Best Nutrition for your Kitten

Today’s blog is written by Heather Martin. Heather is a preliminary veterinary student at Nottingham University. She is very interested in feline medicine and has fostered cats for Cat’s Protection for many years. She has 3 cats of her own- all of whom are rescues!

So you’ve just brought home your adorable new kitten and are unsure of what nutrition this cute little ball of fluff needs?

Kittens have a lot of growing to do and they do this very quickly! By 6 months your kitten would have reached 75% of its total body mass, and this is why feeding them a nutritionally rich kitten food is important.

What do I look for in a good kitten food?

Any ‘complete’ kitten food contains all the necessary nutrients for them to grow up big and strong. Protein is one of the most important nutrients because it is the building block of the body, and kitten food contains high levels of this. The higher the level of protein, the better, but good kitten foods also contain high levels of essential minerals to help build strong bones and teeth.

What type of food should I feed kitten?

There are many types of kitten food on the market for you to choose from, from pouches, foiled trays and tinned food to dry boxes and bags. It is completely down to your and your kitten’s preference.

How many meals a day should she or he be getting?
Although kittens may only be small and have small stomachs they have a surprisingly large appetite! This means it is best to feed them small amounts of food on a frequent basis. Your kitten should be on 4 meals a day after she has been weaned, as this provides a steady source of energy. As she gets older decrease your kitten’s meals to 3 meals per day and by the time she is 6 months old your kitten should only be on 2 meals a day.

Dos and don’ts when feeding your kitten:

Do:

  • Store food correctly
    Open wet kitten food should be kept in the fridge to keep it fresh, but ensure it is brought to room temperature before serving as it will smell and taste more appealing to your kitten. As opened wet food can go stale very quickly it is important not to leave it out for too long, it is important not to keep open wet food for any longer than 24 hours even when refrigerated.
    Store dry food in a clean, dry environment. Airtight containers are good for sealing in the aroma of the food to make it more appealing to your kitten and they are easy to clean! Keep to feeding dry food dry, as cats prefer to crunch on their dry food. Crunchy dry food is also good for helping to keep their teeth clean.
  • Create a suitable routine
    Cats do like habit, so try and feed your kitten at the same place and time every day.
  • Set up a suitable location
    It is best to feed your kitten in a quiet area of your home. Set up the food bowls on a surface which can be easily cleaned, like a mat or tiled floor. If you have more than one cat, set up their food bowls far apart to avoid confrontation or bullying.
  • Time for rest
    Once your kitten has eaten or used the litter tray, leave your kitten to rest for an hour or so to allow them to digest before playing.
  • Change their foods slowly
    A cat’s digestive system is very sensitive and can be easily upset when changing types of food, whether it’s from canned to dry or between different brands. If you do change their diet, it is best to introduce the new food slowly and gradually increase the amount of new food over a period of at least 5 days, to allow them to adjust. But it is not unusual for there to be a tummy upset in the beginning. (We will talk about this later in this article).

Don’t:

  • Feed dangerous foods
    Don’t feed your kitten ‘kitten milk’. Even though it says it is made for kittens it can actually give them digestive upsets. Some human foods and household items are toxic to cats. These include chocolate, grapes and onions. Plants can also be extremely toxic to cats; don’t let them chew on the leaves of Poinsettia or the spadix (yellow part) of Lilies. Antifreeze, slug pellets, rodenticides… the list goes on and on! It is also important not to feed cats bones from meat as these can splinter or get stuck in their throat, or even pierce through the walls of the stomach and intestines.
  • Mix pet foods: Cat food is for cats and dog food is for dogs
    Do not feed dog food to your cat! If they get in and eat a little bit they won’t die, but there’s a reason they’re different. Cat food is specially made to meet your cat’s nutritional needs and contains specific vitamins and minerals your dog doesn’t need.
  • Over feeding
    Only feed your kitten the given amount, which is clearly stated on the back of cat food boxes and packets. Use a measuring cup with dry food to ensure the right amount is served on a daily basis. By feeding your cat to the guidelines you will avoid obesity and other related health problems.
  • No table scraps
    Do not feed your kitten table scraps. Human food is rich, high in calories and does not contain your feline’s necessary nutrients. You also risk overfeeding, upsetting the balance of your kittens diet and causing digestive upsets.

What should I do if my kitten has an upset stomach?
Lots of cats suffer from vomiting and diahorrea from time to time, but here I will tell you some causes and top tips of what to do with your cat.

Most of the time stomach upsets are caused from things like: over eating, eating the wrong kind of food or eating something they have had a reaction to. With the right help your cat will be able to get over a stomach upset relatively quickly. If your cat has a prolonged problem, it might help to keep a diary of when your cat first started having problems, the signs that have been shown and what they have eaten in the days leading up to the upset.
Top Tips:
– If your cat is suffering with vomiting or diarrhoea, then remove all access to food and only allow sips of water for 24 hours.
– If your cat seems unwell and not herself and continues to vomit or has blood in the vomit or diahorrea, contact your vet.
– If the vomiting and diahorrea begins to settle after 24hours then only feed small amounts of bland food such as plain boiled chicken or white fish. Continue to feed the plain diet for a maximum of 5 days.
– Once their digestive system has settled begin to add your cat’s normal food slowly, and gradually increase the amount of food over the next 7 days.

Microchipping 101

This blog article was written by our tame vet student and blogger Joanna Woodnutt. Jo loves fostering for us and sits on our administrative board amongst her vet school duties. She has an interest in preventative feline care.

 

All cats and kittens from Lina’s Cat Rescue are fitted with a microchip. But there are a lot of myths about microchips that can lead to them being useless!

Myth 1: A microchip means your cat can be returned to you if it’s found.
FALSE. A microchip means your cat can be returned to you only if your data is up to date! If you’ve lost that phone or moved house it’ll be useless!

Myth 2: A microchip will help you to find a lost pet.
FALSE. It is not a GPS signal- it only helps if your pet is found and scanned. For this reason it’s a good idea to have them wear a collar saying that they’re chipped!

Myth 3: Only dogs, not cats, need to be microchipped.
FALSE. Although it is true that the new law only states that dogs must be microchipped, it is cats that are more likely to stray. They’re also less likely to tolerate collars, so the chip is an essential back-up!

Ok, so we’ve debunked some myths, but that raises more questions…

How does a microchip work?

A tiny chip,MICROCHIP about the size of a grain of rice, is injected under the animal’s skin just between the shoulder blades. This chip contains a unique number which can be read using a handheld scanner.

This number is held on one of a couple of national databases, and they can correlate the number with the data they have on file for that chip- such as a phone number and address.

So why do we use them?

If your cat is found, any vet, police station or charity should be able to scan him and look up the number. They can then use the data the company holds to get hold of you and return your pet. A pet can’t lose a microchip like they lose a collar, so it’s a great way of finding out who they belong to.

Microchips are invaluble to us as vets. Just the other day somebody brought in a cat that they had found and we reuinted him with his owner within the day. It’s so lovely to see. But all too often we phone the number on the file and it’s not listed, and we contact the address and there are new people living there… it’s heartbreaking that a simple mistake means this cat won’t get to go home- Joanna Woodnutt, vet student

So please remember: A microchip is only as good as the data on it. If you move house, update the data. If you change phone numbers, update the data. If it’s been a year since you last looked, why not phone them up or log in online and just double-check that it’s all correct? One day, you might be very glad you did.

So how do I change my information?

Here are some companies that hold databases and can help you to change your information:

PetLog
PETrak
Anibase

You’ll need your microchip number, which will be on your cat’s paperwork and is 10 or 15 digits long. It may look like a barcode. If your cat has a passport, it may be in there, or it might be written into their vaccination card.

If you can’t find that, try calling your vets as they might have it on their records. Or, if you know where your pet was originally chipped, try calling that vets- they may still have the chip number in their database!

If all of that fails, don’t fret! Get in contact with the companies anyway and ask them to check the pet’s details. It will take a lot longer but they should be able to trace them for you!

More Homes Needed as ‘Kitten Season’ gets Underway

The sharp rise in the number of kittens this time of year is known as ‘kitten season’, and is the busiest of the year for Lina’s.

SnowyKittens Scarlett and Babies4 Scarlett and Babies5

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tilly and kittens

SnowyBlaze

Tolly (M)

Tolly- reserved

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Although the post-Christmas rush emptied many of our foster homes, they’re quickly filling back up again with mums and kittens found on the street. All are cold, miserable, and would not have survived without Lina’s stepping in to help them.

We desperately need more foster homes to take in these new cats and kittens, and ask that anybody who can find a temporary space for a little one gets in touch with us.

We’re also hoping that many of our kittens get adopted quickly so that we can take in even more. Please take a look at our ‘Adopt a Cat or Kitten’ page for more information

And if anybody can help in any way, no matter how small, we ask you to make a donation through Paypal (linascatrescue@gmail.com). Almost all of the £20,000 we raised last year was spent on veterinary treatment for ill and injured cats coming into our care. You can also give donations of food or equipment so that we can fit out our foster homes and get these little ones inside as quickly as possible.

This is the busiest time of year for us and we are very grateful for anything that we receive.

 

Slug Pellet Warning

Our latest blog has been written by Joanna Woodnutt, who takes time out from her veterinary student life to help with fostering and administration of the group. She has an interest in feline medicine.

 

As the weather is getting warmer, many of us are starting to head out into our gardens. Winter rubbish is cleared away, fences are painted, and seeds are sown. Inevitably, the slugs will come out of hibernation just as your seeds are beginning to grow, and it’s easy to be tempted to resort to slug pellets, but beware!

Slug pellets containing metaldehyde are extremely toxic to cats. Most of the common ‘blue pellets’ that you see on the shelves in the shop contain metaldehyde- a quick look on the back of the pack should let you know! Unfortunately these pellets are mostly made of something a little like cat biscuits to attract the slugs, but this can also tempt hungry cats to eat them.

Photo by Amelia Hunt

Photo by Amelia Hunt

If you suspect your cat has eaten metaldehydes, please take them straight to the vets and tell them what you’re worried about.

Ways to prevent your cat becoming ill:

The best way to stop your cat becoming ill is to not use metaldehyde slug bait. Try copper tapes or picking them off by hand. ‘Nemaslug’ is a fantastic product that contains slug parasites- these attack and kill slugs and snails but not other animals, so are completely safe.

If you absolutely must use metaldehydes, or you suspect your neighbours are, other options to help to prevent them getting ill are:

  • Try to keep your cat indoors during late spring
  • Don’t let your cat out whilst hungry
  • Give your neighbours some cat-repellant granules to use to try to keep your cat out
  • Give your neighbours some ‘Nemaslug’, and ask them not to use metaldehydes

Nemaslug

Signs to look out for:

Please note your cat may not exhibit all or any of these, but these are the most common signs.

  • Incoordination- unable to walk properly
  • Fast breathing
  • Vomiting and Diarrhoea
  • Noisy mewling and other signs of anxiety
  • Over-reaction to loud noises or touch
  • Twitching or jerky movements
  • Abnormal eye movements
  • Tremors
  • ‘Fitting’ or convulsions

Remember: If you suspect your cat has eaten slug pellets, take them to the vet’s immediately– do NOT wait for these symptoms to appear as the sooner the vet can see the animal the better.

What your vet will do:

There is no antidote to metaldehydes, but your vet will do their very best to get the metaldehyde out of your cat’s system. They will have to give many different drugs and will usually admit the animal to be put onto fluids. Providing it is caught quickly enough, it would be unusual for an otherwise healthy cat to die from metaldehyde poisoning.

What to do if you think your cat is missing

It’s every cat owner’s worst nightmare. You let Felix out in the morning, and he doesn’t come home as usual in the evening. Or perhaps you realise too late that you left the window open and Badger has disappeared. Your imagination begins to run away with you and you envisage him trapped in a garage, lost in the next village, or -worst of all- in an accident.

But a little bit of knowledge will hopefully help you put these terrifying hours to good use. Instead of sitting worrying about what to do, follow these simple instructions to ensure that people are on the look out and you have the best chance of getting Kitty back.

Hints and Tips

1. It sounds stupid, but make sure your cat is actually missing. Check all the usual hiding places, and anywhere else you can think of. Try calling your cat and shaking a treat pack or tapping a food tin- anything you can think of to get them to come running.

2. Hopefully you got your cat microchipped. Phone your microchip provider and report him missing- this means he will get flagged up on their website and will be returned more quickly if he is found.

3. Report your missing cat on www.cataware.co.uk. Find a photo of your cat and post with details on the Petlog facebook page and any local rescue centres or lost and found pages- including us! There are many Facebook pages for missing cats, find a few that are local to your area and post there. You can also try Tweeting- many rescues local to you will retweet a lost cat post. Make sure you add as much information as possible- see the next tip for a template!

4. Call your local vets and rescue centres with a GOOD description of the cat. ‘Male tabby’ is not good enough as vets see these every day. If possible, give them the following information:

  • Name of cat
  • Age of cat
  • Gender and whether neutered
  • Colour- be descriptive! ‘Black and white’ isn’t as good as ‘mostly black with white feet, longhaired’
  • Whether she/he has a chip
  • Whether she/he was wearing a collar
  • Any distinguishing features (especially if not chipped!)- nicks in ears, eye colour etc

5. Walk door-to-door and talk to your neighbours. Ask them to check their garages and conservatories, or any other place your cat might have sheltered and got locked in. Don’t forget to take a photo so that they’ll recognise your cat if they see them. Leave them your phone number so that they can contact you if he’s found. It’s a good idea to take leaflets with you- sometimes people let in a cat they think is a stray and let it out again once they realise it has a home!

5. Chat to the local postman- remember he covers a large area, often on foot, and so may have spotted your cat around. Even if they can give you a rough idea of where your cat is it will help you to focus your search.

6. You could also produce posters and distribute them in local stores, post offices and houses. There are templates available for this online.

 

Most of all, remember not to give up hope. Cats are known to come back after months or even years of going missing, totally unharmed!

Good luck!

Introducing A New Cat- Hints and Tips!

So you’ve picked up that new cat or kitten, and you can’t wait to get it home and introduce it to everybody- including his feline family! Not so fast! Introducing a new pet can be tricky and making sure all involved are comfrotable is the first step to making sure you have a happy home.

So what do I do when I first bring him or her home?

  • Choose a quiet room for your cat. If you have other pets, they should not have access to this room. Ensure there are some hiding places to help your cat feel comfortable. The cat’s food and litter should go in here as well.
  • If the house has outdoor access (i.e open windows, a cat flap) or other pets in the house, you should confine the cat to the room for at least a week to help them get used to the new smells, sights, and you! Don’t isolate them though- make sure you go in and spend time with your cat so that they feel comfortable around you!
  • Once you have released your cat from his carrier, you should leave them alone to become accustomed to the space. If you have no other pets and there is no outside access, you can leave the door to the room open and allow your cat to explore at his own pace. Don’t pester the cat- just let him approach you.

Letting your new cat go outside

  • Firstly, never let your cat go outside until you are confident they understand who is feeding them. Cats may run away and try to get back to what they think of as ‘home’ if let out too quickly. We usually suggest 2 weeks is enough time, but if your cat is still very timid, leave them indoors for longer! During this time, train them to come when called by giving them treats when they respond.
  • Let them out on a dry day just before a mealtime- they won’t go too far if they know dinner’s not far off! Leave them for around an hour, then call them in for dinner. Shut them in for the night.
  • Repeat this routine for a few days, then start gradually increasing the amount of time they spend outside.

Introducing your new cat to another pet

  • Try to allow your new cat and other pets to smell one another without meeting face to face. The best way to do this is to feed them either side of the same door, so that they associate a good thing (food) with the scent. You may also swap blankets from your pets to allow them to get used to one another’s scents, and ensure that you spend time with all of them so that they can smell one another on you.
  • After about a week, when your cat is comfortable with you and the smell of your other pets, you should allow your cat to explore the rest of the house. Confine your other pets so that they can do this in peace. They’ll have time to identify hidey-holes and smell areas that the other pets have marked as their own, so that they know where they can and can’t go.
  • Let your pets meet in a controlled manner. First, ensure your cat has an ‘escape route’ to his room, as well as a high shelf or a cardboard box ‘den’. If you have a dog, put it on a lead and ask him to lie down. Then allow your cat to approach at his own pace. If you have other cats, let them approach at their own pace, ensuring that there are enough ‘hiding places’ to allow them to all escape if scared.
  • If at any point the interaction begins to become aggressive, separate the animals. Do not put yourself in danger by directly separating the animals- instead throw something soft, make a loud noise, or squirt them with a bottle of water. If these situations are allowed to develop, it becomes a cycle of fear and aggression, and will not resolve. Allow the animals to calm down and start again from the beginning, moving more slowly through the steps this time.

Of course, these steps aren’t foolproof and it’s always a difficult time for any cat, but most will get used to new things given time. Getting a plug in ‘Feliway’ can help keep everybody calm, and is available at most vets and many pharmacies.

Antifreeze Poisoning- What to Do

This is not a subsitute for proper veterinary care. If you suspect your cat has antifreeze poisoning, please don’t sit around googling and reading this- go to your vets NOW, as this is very commonly fatal. 90% of cats die after drinking antifreeze.

Antifreeze is the most common poison during the winter months, and can kill dogs, cats, and even humans, as well as a multitude of other creatures. A lot of people assume that these poisonings are purposeful, but that is not always the case- antifreeze has a sweet smell and taste, which attracts cats more than normal water. Some people use it to stop their water features freezing over, or it might spill whilst they’re filling the windscreen washer in their car- there are many places an inquisitive and thirsty pet can find antifreeze!

To make things worse, a 4kg cat only needs to drink about 5ml of antifreeze for it to be toxic- that’s about a teaspoonful! They can get this simply by licking their paws after walking through it, so it’s very hard to say how a cat got poisoned!

The Science

Antifreeze is usually made of a substance called Ethylene Glycol, which in itself isn’t actually all that poisonous- it’s actually a type of alcohol! Unfortunately, your body tries to metabolise it- like it does with anything else- using an enzyme called alcohol dehydrogenase. The product that is formed when it does this is extremely poisonous and causes fatal kidney damage.

 

The Signs to Watch Out For

The first signs, which occur 30mins to 3 hours after drinking antifreeze, are caused by the Ethylene Glycol itself. These are signs that you would associate with being drunk, for instance:

  • Vomiting
  • Seeming depressed/sleepy
  • Appearing uncoordinated
  • Increased thirst
  • Increased urination

These will steadily get worse, although a brief recovery has been reported in some dogs. Signs of damage to the nervous system usually occur next, such as:

  • Stumbling
  • Weakness
  • Slow responses
  • Stopping drinking and urination

Then, as the body starts to metabolise the drug, the signs turn more serious. 12 to 24 hours after drinking, the cat may show:

  • Oral ulcers
  • Salivation
  • Seizures
  • Coma

First Aid:

There is no question about what to do in any poisoning case- take your pet straight to the vet, every minute can count. Call them as you leave the house, explaining the emergency- this will give them a chance to get things ready. They may also give you first aid advice over the phone.

On your way out the door, grab a bottle of vodka or gin if you have it to hand- no, it’s not for you! The vet may be able to use it to help your cat, and having an extra bottle to hand can help.

What Your Vet Will Do:

What your vet does depends on the stage your pet is at. If you’ve only just caught them drinking it, they may encourage the cat to vomit or provide something to try to bind the antifreeze and stop it being absorbed.

If your cat is showing signs of having drunk antifreeze a little while ago, the vet will try other things, which may include getting your cat drunk- and this is where that bottle of Vodka comes in! Ethanol is metabolised by the same enzymes in the liver as Ethylene Glycol, but it takes priority so it out-competes the Ethylene Glycol for the receptors. If the vet can keep your cat drunk on a drip for long enough, the Ethylene Glycol will be lost from the body before it can be metabolised into dangerous chemicals. The vet may also place your cat on a fluid drip to protect your cat’s kidneys by keeping them well hydrated.

 

FIV+ Cats- Debunking the Myth

Written by: Helen McCallum
Helen is a third year veterinary student at the University of Nottingham. She has an interest in feline medicine, has recently completed a dissertation on FIV in cats, and would like to go into small animal practice when she graduates.


 

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus which infects domestic cats worldwide. A cat that is infected is FIV positive (FIV+), and non-infected cats are FIV negative. Unfortunately, FIV positive cats can be overlooked at adoption centres, or are put to sleep unnecessarily because of health concerns or a lack of people looking to take them on. Lina’s is proud that we accept FIV+ cats… but what does that mean for you?

How is the virus spread from cat to cat?
The virus is spread by biting. Generally, FIV is regarded as a virus of fighting cats, with stray and male cats having a greater risk of contracting the virus.


What happens after a cat is infected?
It’s difficult to determine exactly what happens as FIV can cause an array of conditions, which may affect many parts of the body. The majority of the disease course has no symptoms, lasting a long time (often the majority of the cat’s life). Overall, the virus causes immunosuppression, so infected cats are more likely to suffer recurrent health problems, especially later in life.

When the terminal stage is reached clinical disease is seen, which may include dental disease, skin conditions, cancer, neurological disease, renal disease, gastrointestinal disorders, upper respiratory tract and urinary infections. However, as can be seen from this list, these could be experienced by any cat, FIV+ or not!  A cat can’t be cured of the virus – it is there in the body for a lifetime.
How do I know a cat is infected?
A SNAP test carried out by a vet will be able to tell you if a cat is infected or not. These SNAP tests often test for Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV) as well, which is not to be confused with FIV. Vets will often test stray, male cats they may come across, as these are at higher risk of being positive.


How long do FIV+ cats live for?
No one can predict the lifespan of an FIV+ cat, just in the same way that no one can predict the lifespan of a healthy cat. However, studies have found that FIV infection does not adversely affect lifespan when compared to FIV negative cats. This means FIV cats can live to similar ages to non-infected cats.

 

So what do I have to do with my FIV+ cat?
Health Monitoring
Health monitoring is important as FIV+ cats are more likely suffer recurrent health problems. Taking them to the vet at the first sign of anything out of the normal is crucial. A vet may prescribe medication for any conditions the cat is suffering, or carry out any procedures that are required, like dentals in the case of dental disease.
Practicalities of Keeping FIV+ Cats
FIV+ cats should be kept indoors to stop them spreading the virus to outdoor cats through biting. This will also keep them safe from anything which could infect them, such as parasites they could pick up from hunting, or indeed viruses they may contract from other cats. Some say that FIV+ cats should be kept as a single cat or segregated from any other cats in the same household, to prevent the virus spreading. However, as the virus spreads via bites, some say that FIV+ and negative cats can mix in a household as long as they get on and do not fight. However, bear in mind that FIV+ cats should be isolated if an infection is present amongst any other household cats. This is because an infection could pass to the FIV+ cat, causing further complications.

So having an FIV+ cat is not the end of the world- in fact, people often don’t even know they’ve got an FIV+ cat! This disease usually only causes problems towards the end of a cat’s life- when all cats become more likely to get diseases! FIV+ cats make fantastic pets, just like any other cat, so please don’t pass over them!

 

Lina’s accept FIV+ cats, and do an FIV/FeLV check when we first get an at-risk cat brought in. We will declare whether a cat is FIV+ on enquiry or during your home visit.