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Caring for the Challenged Cat

21 October 2015

AUSTRALIA - Cats are the second most popular pet in Australia with more than 29 per cent of households owning one, so there are lots of cat owners out there who get concerned when something’s wrong with their furry friend.

The Australian Veterinary Association held a special conference for veterinarians dedicated to the latest treatments for felines.

Speaking at the conference was Professor Julia Beatty, University of Sydney, who addressed a range of feline diseases, including Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), a common infection of domestic cats worldwide.

“Transmission of FIV occurs as a result of cat fights and bites and results in lifelong infection.

“Sadly, some cats with FIV develop serious diseases however they seem to be in the minority. If you own an FIV-infected cat, it’s important not to assume that any health problem that your cat gets is from the FIV - it may be a coincidence and something that can be easily treated,” she said.

“Australia has some of the highest levels of infection with eight to 16 per cent of pet cats and up to 25 per cent of feral cats infected.

“FIV-infected cats can make great pets in the right home. Owners can’t catch FIV from cats so there’s no need to worry about that but it’s important to keep them as healthy as possible with regular check-ups.”

According to Professor Beatty, FIV infection can progress in three stages but happens slowly over many years.

“In contrast to HIV in humans, where without treatment, progression is quite predictable, the consequences of FIV infection are unpredictable.

“A large proportion of FIV-infected cats will remain free from significant disease and have a normal life expectancy.

“It’s still important for cat owners to take extra care of healthy cats that are tested positive to FIV. They should be carefully examined by a vet for even the most minor problems because the cat’s immune system is compromised through FIV.

“The best way to prevent your cat from becoming infected with FIV is to prevent it from roaming. This will also reduce trauma, straying and protect wildlife,” Professor Beatty said.

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