The most important part of pet ownership is preparing yourself with as much information as possible in order to keep them safe and free from harm. There are a variety of health problems that cats can face, some more common than others. Knowing what the most common problems are will help you to prevent them and allow your cat to live as long a life as possible.
Here are three of the most common viral infectious diseases found in cats, complete with preventative measures you can take to ensure a healthy pet.
1. Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FIV is a virus that attacks a cat’s immune system, causing the cat to be less able to fight off infections; in fact it is similar to HIV in humans. Approximately 2-5% of healthy cats in the United States are infected with FIV, affecting as much as 24% of outdoor cats. FIV is spread from cat to cat through bite wounds. You can help prevent your cat from contracting FIV by
-Neuter male cats so their urge to roam is lessened. Neutering will also curb aggression.
-Try to keep your cat indoors as much as possible
-Avoid contact with other cats as much as possible
2. Feline Leukemia (FeLV)
Feline Leukemia is among the most common of the viral infectious diseases found in cats and attacks and weakens the immune system, leaving it unable to fight off other infections. FeLV can take one of two forms: it can attack the immune system leaving the cat susceptible to a wide variety of other infectious diseases or it can take the form of tumors.
FeLV is easily spread cat to cat by the litter box, through food and water dishes (from their saliva), as well as through feces and during lactation. Your veterinarian can detect FeLV by performing a blood test.
There is a vaccination that is effective in preventing FeLV which consists of two initial injections followed by an annual booster dose.
3. Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP)
FIP is a serious viral disease that can be difficult to diagnose. Once signs of FIP can be seen, the disease is almost always fatal. Feline Infectious Peritonitis is spread by oral/nasal contact with infected cats through saliva from grooming, litter boxes and through shared food bowls.
There is a vaccine for FIP but it must be administered in healthy cats 16 weeks of age or older, with annual revaccination. Your veterinarian will determine if your cat has FIP by performing laboratory tests.
In order to help prevent your cat from falling victim to any of these common viral infectious diseases, be sure to keep up to date with all of your veterinary visits as well as the proper vaccinations.