Three deadly feline diseases | Tips on prevention to save lives

Infectious and fatal, these three diseases are known by a confusing set of initials – FeLV, FIV and FPV. Once your cat becomes ill with any of these diseases he or she will eventually die. There are no effective treatments or cures. What will save cats’ lives is preventing the spread of these infections through blood testing and vaccination.

All three of these infections can be carried and spread for long periods of time by cats who are harboring the viruses with no obvious symptoms of disease. Cats who appear perfectly healthy can be infected yet not come down with an illness for months or years. During these months or years, however, they are contagious to other cats.

To ensure your cat can live a long, healthy life it’s essential to vaccinate your cat.

PEXELS | Tranmautritam

1. feline leukaemia virus also abbreviated to FeLV

By attacking the immune system this virus makes cats more susceptible to infection and illness as well as prone to developing certain cancers. Cats become infected by mutual grooming, sharing food and water, mating or from bites from infected cats. Symptoms are non-specific including weight loss, lethargy, and poor health. A blood test can detect if a cat is infected, however there is no treatment for this fatal virus.

2. feline immunodeficiency virus also referred to as FIV or feline AIDs

This blood borne viral infection causes Feline AIDs which is potentially fatal. Even though FIV is related to Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), no human has ever been reported to be infected with FIV. Cats become infected with FIV by bite wounds from other cats and can also be transmitted by a mother cat to her kittens across the placenta or through her milk. The virus interferes with the immune system, and initial symptoms such as fever, sores, lesions and diarrhoea progress to severe chronic infections as the immune system is overcome. There is no treatment or cure for the virus itself.

3. feline enteritis also known as panleukopenia and FPV

Onset of this disease is very rapid and can often be fatal. Cats become infected by direct faecal and oral contact as well as indirectly by contaminated objects such as food bowls, bedding, floors and contact by hands. Signs include high temperature, loss of appetite, depression, vomiting and diarrhea. Vaccination is very effective and has thankfully reduced the incidence of the disease, however enteritis can easily become infectious amongst an unvaccinated and susceptible population.

tips on prevention and the spread of these deadly diseases

If your cat becomes ill with any of these three diseases it will die. You may be able to extend the cat’s life but you cannot save it. There is no treatment or cure for these diseases. For a long, healthy life, be sure your cats are protected with core vaccinations.

Vaccinations are administered from kittenhood with boosters given throughout life. Every cat is different and that is why your veterinarian will advise you on which diseases your cat needs to be protected from based on their environment and lifestyle. Here are tips to keep your cats safe:

1. keep your cat indoors

The more time he or she spends outside, the more exposure there is to infectious disease.

Do not let a new cat interact with other cats and kittens until you have it, and the resident cat, tested and vaccinated. Keep any new arrivals in a separate room with separate food and water bowls, and litter box, until your veterinarian tells you it’s safe. Keeping new arrivals separated also cuts down the spread of parasites and respiratory infections.

3. always wash your hands after handling a pet

Wash your hands after handling either pet if they are not tested and vaccinated. Also wash your hands after petting any unfamiliar cats outside your home.

4. be mindful of all cats

Remember, 1 cat in 10 is carrying one of these viruses, healthy looking or not. That 1 cat in 10 may be in your house right now.

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