If you own a cat, and want to keep it happy and healthy, you will need to take your cat to the vets on a regular basis for immunizations to protect it from diseases. There are many diseases that cats can contract including Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), and Feline Leukemia.
Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP):
This is a cat disease that is caused by the coronavirus infection. There are many different strains of the coronavirus that can make your cat sick, but most of them do not produce the serious kind of illness. The FIP-producing kind of coronavirus invades and grows in certain white blood cells in the cat’s bloodstream. The infected white blood cells then travel through the cat’s body where an intense reaction can occur in the tissues. Infected cats can pass the virus on to other cats through the saliva and feces. Saliva can get into the water and food dishes, toys, clothing, bedding and surfaces they lie on. The virus can survive for several weeks but can be inactivated by common household detergents and disinfectants. Owners of multiple cat households should use one part household bleach to thirty-two parts of water (4 oz. of bleach to a gallon of water).
Symptoms of FIP are those of a mild upper respiratory disease in that the cat will sneeze, have watery eyes, and a watery nasal discharge. Sometimes the cat will have a mild intestinal disease. Usually cats completely recover from FIP and can also become virus carriers. Unfortunately a few cats can develop the lethal disease several weeks, months, or even years after having the disease for the first time.
Symptoms of the lethal FIP are anemia, depression, fever, and weight loss. The cat will develop kidney failure (increase it’s water consumption and urination), or have liver failure and become jaundiced, or have pancreatic disease and show signs of diarrhea and vomiting and diabetes. It may also have neurological disease, which manifests itself in loss of balance, behavioral changes, paralysis and also seizures. It may have eye disease, which includes inflammation of the eyes or blindness. Because there can be so many different symptoms FIP can be difficult for vets to diagnose.
Cats that are very young, or are older than 10 years, or cats that are in poor physical condition are all prone to FIP.
The first FIP vaccine (Primucell PIF) was introduced in 1991.
FIP has not been documented in any other species other than the feline population.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV):
The virus that causes Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is the same retrovirus family of viruses that includes the feline leukemia virus (FeLV), the is different in many ways including the shape of the virus and genetically.
FIV is spread basically through bite wounds; thus cats who are outdoor cats allowed to roam freely are prone to this infection. Sometimes an infected mother cat can give the infection to her kittens while passing through the birth canal or through the milk when nursing.
A cat may have the FIV virus for years before showing any signs of illness. The virus will render the cat more susceptible to diseases caused by common bacteria, viruses, protozoa, or fungi found in everyday environments that normally do not affect a healthy cat. The cat with FIV will have a weakened immune system.
Symptoms of FIV infection:
In the early stage of the infection the virus is carried to nearby lymph nodes where white blood cells are produced and the virus is spread to other lymph nodes throughout the body resulting in a temporary enlargement of the lymph nodes, which if a vet is examining the cat at this stage the vet may notice the swollen lymph nodes. There is usually a fever while the lymph nodes are enlarged.
The health of a cat with FIV will deteriorate progressively and the owner may notice a loss of appetite, poor coat condition, an inflamed gum (gingivitis) and inflamed mouth (stomatitis), and chronic skin infections, a urinary bladder infection and upper respiratory tract infection is also usually present. Slow but progressive weight loss is very common, followed by severe wasting late in the disease. When a cat has FIV, it is prone to get different kinds of cancer and blood diseases. Some cats with FIV may have seizures, and behavior changes as well as other neurological disorders.
The diagnosis is made with a simple blood test.
There is an FIV vaccine.
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV):
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is also a retrovirus, just like FIV, and HIV the human immunodeficiency virus. In the U.S. approximately 2 to 3% of cats are infected with FeLV.
FeLV is spread through the saliva and nasal secretions, but can also be spread by contaminated urine, feces, and in the milk of infected cats. It can be spread by a bite, or by sharing of litter boxes, or feeding and water dishes. An infected mother cat can give the FeLV to her nursing kittens. Cats in multiple households where there is an infected cat are at risk, as well as cats that are allowed to go outside unsupervised, where an infected cat can bite them.
Symptoms of FeLV are loss of appetite, slow and progressive weight loss, poor coat condition, enlarged lymph nodes, persistent fever, pale gums, gingivitis, stomatitis, skin infections, urinary infection, upper respiratory tract, persistent diarrhea, seizures, behavior changes, and also eye conditions.