FIV and FeLV are two conditions that can put the fear in a cat lovers heart. We adore our babies and hope to give them the best life possible.
While it is unlikely that you will adopt a Ragdoll cat with FIV or FeLV as a pre-existing condition (if your kitten/cat was tested), it is possible that they can contract either of these from other cats if they are outdoors.
Getting to know what to expect, how to treat, and prevent FIV and FeLV is every cat owner’s responsibility.
It can be heart-wrenching to learn that your can has a potentially fatal disease but your cat can still live a healthy, happy life.
If you are adopting a kitten to bring into the home with established cats, have all the cats tested for both FIV and FeLV first.
However, do remember that these results may differ later on, as the kittens have their mother’s antibodies and may give a false positive test.
FIV AND FELV IN RAGDOLL CATS
FIV in Ragdoll Cats – Questions & Advice
What is FIV in Cats?
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, also known as FIV, is a type of feline HIV. If your Ragdoll cat has tested positive for FIV they will have a lower immune system than other cats.
Is FIV Common in Ragdoll Cats?
FIV is only contracted through direct contact with a FIV-positive cat. Ragdolls are NOT more prone to contracting FIV. Since most breeders guarantee that parents are FIV and FeLV free, kittens are almost always free of these conditions.
Are FIV Cats Contagious?
FIV cats can be contagious in certain circumstances. For example, cats can transmit FIV through a serious bite. The other potential transmission is from mother to kitten. It is a myth that FIV can be transmitted between cats by bowls, litter boxes or water bowls. FIV cats can live with FIV free cats without transmitting it.
What is the Life Expectancy of a FIV-positive Cat?
While they do typically have a shorter lifespan than non-infected cats, FIV cats can live as long as any other cat.
FIV Symptoms & Testing
FIV cats do not show specific symptoms. They are, however, significantly more prone to infections. The most common infections that FIV-positive cats contract include upper respiratory, ringworm and dental issues. Because there are no other symptoms, the only way to know for sure if your cat has FIV is to get a specific blood test done.
While there is no current treatment for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, FIV positive cats have a better chance of living a long, full life if you restrict them to being indoor-only. This reduces their risk of catching infections as well as contracting FIV in the first place.
Related > How to Choose a Vet For Your Ragdoll Cat
FeLV in Ragdoll Cats – Questions & Advice
What is FeLV in Cats?
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) is a type of viral infection that causes cats to have a depressed immune system.
Unfortunately, FeLV is considered moderately contagious. It can be transmitted through mutual grooming and rarely through shared bowls. Like FIV, FeLV is most likely to be transmitted through a bite wound.
Is FIV Common in Ragdoll Cats?
Like FIV, Ragdolls can only contract FeLV through direct contact with an infected cat. Ragdolls are as much at risk as any other outdoor cat.
What is the Life Expectancy of a FeLV-Positive Cat?
FeLV is a deadly disease that can cause cancers and can affect nearly every part of the body.
If your Ragdoll cat has contracted FeLV, then you should consult with your vet about possible issues. Life expectancy depends on the type of FeLV that your cat has contracted as well as lifestyle factors like diet.
Our cats always pass away sooner than we want, you can still do your best to give your FeLV-positive Ragdoll the best possible life she can have.
FeLV Symptoms & Testing
Your vet can test for FeLV through a blood test. A major sign that your Ragdoll cat may be suffering from FeLV is if they are regularly getting infections and have a hard time fighting them off. Symptoms of FeLV vary depending on the type of leukemia your cat as developed. They could experience anemia, a depressed immune system, and, in some cases, tumors. A few additional symptoms to watch for include:
- Dull coat
- Sever lethargy
- Trouble breathing
- Pale guns
- Ulcers in mouth
- Yellow around the whites of the eyes
- Swollen lymph nodes
- Frequent bladder, skin or upper respiratory infections
- Weight loss
- Decreased appetite
Vaccinations for FIV & FeLV
These are two very distinctly different diseases and the vaccinations for FIV and FeLV come with their own benefits and drawbacks.
FIV Vaccination – Only a small percentage of cats that are considered “at risk” for FIV come down with it. Likewise, there are five known strains of FIV and the vaccine only covers two of them. Probably the most significant drawback of the FIV vaccination is that if you lose your cat and they are picked up by animal control they may test positive for FIV. Testing does not currently accommodate for cats vaccinated with FIV or currently infected with it.
FeLV Vaccination – There’s a lot of things to consider when deciding whether or not to vaccinate your cat for FeLV. While the vaccine is generally considered safe, it is not considered a core vaccine by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This is especially not recommended for indoor-only cats as they are not likely to be exposed to FeLV in the first place. Also, many cats can be regularly exposed to FeLV without contracting it. It is recommended that intact, outdoor male cats get vaccinated as they are at the highest risk of contracting FeLV.
FIV and FeLV are two distinctly different diseases but your Ragdoll is facing the same risk of contracting them if you allow them to be indoor/outdoor cats. Be aware of these potential infections that can have a major impact your Ragdoll’s life. Work closely with your vet to monitor for potential risks and ensure that your cat lives the best life he or she can.
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