Tag Archives: disease

Indoor Cats: The Advantages and Disadvantages

As a rescue fully commited to the safety of cats, we often have to turn down potential owners who would like an outdoor cat, but who live near a main road. Final year veterinary student Joanna Woodnutt talks us through why keeping a cat indoors isn’t cruel.

So first of all, do you think it is cruel to keep a cat indoors?

Definitely not. Cats were originally desert dwellers that would have had very small territories that contained everything they needed. Provided no rival cats deterred them from this space, they would have been quite happy with this territory and wouldn’t have roamed, preferring instead to defend what they had. Our domesticated cats today can be quite happy living indoors, provided their basic needs are met.

And what would you consider those basic needs to be?

Well, unfortunately for us, it depends on the cat. The Animal Welfare Act 2006 considers a pet to have five basic rights or ‘freedoms’. These include its need for a suitable environment, its need for a suitable diet, its need to be able to exhibit normal behaviour patterns, any need it has to be housed with, or apart from, other animals, and its need to be protected from pain, suffering, injury and disease.

All of these can be met in an indoor environment, provided the right adaptations are made. Normal behaviour patterns may, for some cats, include the need to hunt or climb- these cats should be provided with toys and climbing frames to allow them to exhibit this behavior. Others may prefer hidey holes and high places, and require provision for this too.

I do think there are some cats that can’t be kept indoors- some of those that have always had outdoor access would find this stressful- but many have no interest in going out provided their needs can be met indoors.

Are there any disadvantages, medically, to keeping cats indoors?

Unfortunately, there are a couple of diseases that have a higher prevalence in cats that are kept indoors. One of these is FLUTD, although diabetes and arthritis are also more likely in indoor animals. This is because indoor cats are more likely to be obese, which is a major cause of these problems- indeed, an overweight outdoor cat is more likely to get diabetes than a normal weight indoor cat.

And what are the advantages of keeping them in?

To me, the advantages of keeping cats in far outweigh any disadvantages. Cats kept indoors can’t get run over, and are far less likely to be exposed to poisons. They won’t roam and get lost, and cause you worry. They are far less likely to get in fights and end up at the vets with costly abscesses. They won’t bring you home ‘presents’ of the local wildlife. They are also much less likely to contract diseases from cat flu to FeLV.

Do you have any tips for keeping cats happy indoors?

As I said before, overweight cats are more prone to disease. Providing lots of toys and a climbing frame such as a cat tree allows cats to play and exercise, making it easier for them to remain fit. Making mealtimes more fun and active using treat balls can keep cats entertained. Remember that many cats, especially those that are older, like to sleep for a lot of the day- making sure they have a warm, comfortable place to do this is very important!

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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.