Friday, December 14, 2012

Why You Should Adopt FIV Cats

3 FIV cats
3 Curious FIV cats

Feline Immunodeficiency virus is commonly called FIV.  When your cat is tested for FIV at your veterinarians office the test looks for the virus antibodies.   

Many cats that test positive may have been vaccinated against the virus and will show a false positive due to the antibody.  Other cats may have been exposed to the FIV virus and have developed antibodies that fight the virus.    

How Contagious is FIV?
I have FIV positive cats living with non FIV cats under the same roof and these cats drink out of the same bowl of water, sleep together and groom each other. 

The virus has not infected the non FIV cats.  The cats get along well with the each other.   Based on the example of my cats I find that it is not a highly contagious virus.  This cat virus is not transmissible through casual cat contact; drinking from the same bowl, sleeping in the same bed, grooming each other, playing and from airborne particles when the cat sneezes.  

FIV is contagious if the cats fight and inflict the non FIV cat with a bite wound that breaks the skin.  Blood with saliva contact will cause FIV to be contagious.

FIV in Feral Cats
Since 2004 I have been caring for a feral cat colony.  I have trapped and rescued many cats and in that time there were a four FIV cats and one FeLV (feline leukemia) cat.  

One of the cats that tested positive for FIV was a young  adult male tomcat and the other three were feral kittens.   Out of these five cats there were 0 fatalities.   The feral cats received medical care, neuter or spay  and were socialized and I adopted them.  The FeLV and FIV positive cat I adopted also. The cats immune system was able to fight of the FeLV by the third phase however he is still infected with FIV.  All cats are alive and healthy as of this date.

Cats that test positive for FIV can live a long and healthy life.  If you would come to view my cats you would think that they were normal in every way. The only thing that I note as being different is that there energy level is weaker and they sleep more.  

Gracie my FIV cat
Life with an FIV Cat 
When the cats are awake they play together or they visit my husband and me and rub their head on our arms and purr so loud you can hear them across the room.   

Some of the cats will play with the family dog, and others will lie in the sun room.   FIV positive cats have same mannerisms as non FIV cats, they just sleep more. Thus these cats should not be feared and they should not be left in shelters; they need to be adopted into forever homes.  

Many FIV cats will live a long life and will never show symptoms of the virus.   However that does not mean that you can forgo their annual wellness check up by their veterinarian.   All cats must get a check-up by their veterinarian to keep them healthy. 

FIV cats are the same as non FIV cats, except that you must keep them indoors for the rest of their life to protect them from getting sick as they have a weakened immune system; feed them quality food, provide them with a safe and comfortable home, get them spayed or neutered and love them.  If you can do these things then you should adopt FIV cats. 

Caring for your FIV Cat
  1. All FIV and non FIV cats must be spayed or neutered.  
  2. Get annual wellness checkup at veterinarians, an exam and blood panel.
  3. Follow the instructions provided by your veterinarian.    
  4. Keep your cat indoors as they are susceptible to infections.   
  5. Keep your house and litter boxes clean.  
  6. Remove your shoes when you come in from the outdoors and put on house slippers.  Leave your shoes at the door or in another area that is off limits to your FIV cat. Shoes are a way to transport bacteria and other germs into your home. 
  7. Feed your cat a high quality canned food.  I like Spa Selects by Blue Buffalo and so do the cats.  Look for a cat food that is high in protein with no corn, soy or wheat gluten. Also supplement your cat’s diet with a Lysine chew formulated for cats only.  Lysine supports your cats immune system to help fight off infection. 
  8. Provide your cat with purified water.  Clean their water bowl daily with antibacterial dish soap.  
  9. Brush their teeth with cat poultry flavored enzyme tooth paste.  By keeping their teeth clean you will prevent gum disease.
  10. A well cared for FIV cat that is kept indoors and is healthy and happy will live a long life on average 15 years

Learn more about FIV:

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Insulated Cat Houses Donated

Insulated feral cat shelter: cat house
Cat house and feeding station
Handmade insulated shelters were donated last week. These shelters will provide a warm and a safe area for the outdoor feral and stray cats that are in my care. 

The cat houses are made of wood and they have an inch of insulation on the top, bottom and all of the sides.  There is a front door and an exit door to keep the outdoor cats safe.  

My husband painted the houses hunter green and then applied a water repellent.  To provide the cats with extra warmth we filled them with thick layers of straw before setting them up in the yard.  One cat house sits close to the woods entrance.  

This outdoor shelter will attract the feral cats that are terrified of humans and only venture out at night.  The other shelter is closer to the backside of my home; it sits next to a rock wall as it provides a wind block.  I also set a wooden cat house on my side porch as the awning will keep it dry and it enables me to set up a feeding station.  The shelter on my porch is filled with a foot of straw and then topped with an insulated pet blanket.

We have watched for the cats but have only viewed one cat enter the shelter up against the backside of our shed.  

This cat was viewed taking an afternoon nap.  The other shelters do indicate evidence that cats are lying in the house.  The straw is molded to the shape of a cat’s body and we have found evidence of cat hair on the pet blanket.  

The outdoor cats know the cat houses are there and I am certain that when the weather turns colder that they will be seeking warmth and will enter the  insulated cat shelters.  

Here are photographs:
Insulated interior of cat shelter, black cat fur on blanket

Cat sleeping in shelter
Insulated shelter with overhang

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

New Cat at Feral Cat Feeding Station

A new Bengal mix  cat with thin body invited himself for breakfast at the feral colony feeding station.  I suspect that the cat was hungry and did not realize that he was not welcomed.

This feeding station is a quarter mile inland and is nestled amongst mature trees and jagged rocks.  This cat did not appear to be feral as when the queen cat approached him the cat cowered by lowering his body close to the ground, eyes down and continued to eat from the food bowel. 

The queen cat hissed and showed her claws. The Bengal did not know how to react. So he continued to eat from the bowl. The feral cat became aggressive; she lunged at the  cat and the new cat ran toward the neighborhood. The feral cat kept her ground and aggressively chased the uninvited cat.  

I called the other cat caregivers in my neighborhood to let them know about the misplaced cat and what had occurred when the cat tried to eat at the feeding station.  I also asked if anyone had seen the cat, or knew of anyone who had lost a cat. I was not sure if the cat had wondered away from their home and got lost or if the cat was abandoned.  The cat did not have on a collar but could have microchip identification. 

We are all on high cat alert because this stray cat will get into trouble if they cross the path of a feral tomcat, especially if the lost cat is not neutered.   

Whenever house cats or abandoned cats wonder into the forest they run a high risk of being hunted by predators.  If we do not rescue these abandoned house cats then they will suffer as they do not know where to go for food or where to go for a safe shelter.  

All caregivers are taking steps to watch and provide the cat with food, water and shelter.  I have opened up my garage shelter to the cat.   Tonight we are leaving the door open as late as we can. We  have to monitor the kitty door due to the raccoons in our area.

If we are able to capture the cat we will take him to our veterinarians to be scanned for a microchip. At this point we do not know if the cat has a home in the neighborhood or if the cat was abandoned.