Sam's Story continued
Sam is a handsome, 12.5 pound blue-eyed sealpoint Siamese. He has great big double paws on the front, which means he’s not a full blooded Siamese. After living in the barn for three years, he came to live with Judi, Bill and Gracie as an indoor cat, to which he adjusted quite nicely. He likes the screened porch, the soft beds, chairs and pillows, and especially the warmth in winter. His age is around 7. He is FIV positive.
A diagnosis of FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) most often comes when shelters routinely test new cats, or when a cat is sick and the veterinarian is looking for an underlying cause. The greatest risk is among intact adult male outdoor cats, since the disease is transmitted primarily through deep bite wounds. The feline version of HIV, FIV is a disease that attacks and weakens the immune system, leaving the cat more susceptible to other issues like kidney and liver problems and infections. While FIV is considered a fatal disease, most often the immediate cause of death is some other problem worsened by a weakened immune system. Diagnosed early, watched carefully and treated accordingly, FIV+ cats can lead a reasonably long and normal life.
Usually the initial infection has an acute stage of a couple weeks. After that it can take three years for the disease to progress. Sam has been an indoor cat for 2 ½ years, so we know it’s been at least that long since his initial infection. He’s in very good health now, except for some minor allergies that cause runny eyes and a couple of hernias acquired in a battle with a dog a few years ago. Although he has tested positive for FIV, the rest of his blood work is good, liver and kidneys doing well. One of the common first symptoms of disease in FIV+ cats shows up in gingivitis and dental problems and stomatitis. Sam’s mouth is in good shape. He loves his homemade raw diet and we’ve started him on a mushroom supplement to boost his immune system.
Sam is a gentle, laid-back creature who needs a feline friend. He loved his Gracie, but she succumbed to cancer in late 2006, and he misses her (as do Bill and Judi). We’ll be looking for a young FIV+ female for him, one who will cuddle with him and also play with him and get him to be a little more active. Since most FIV+ cats are males who’ve been on the street, it may be a challenge to find the right girlfriend for him. An alternative approach may be to find a girl kitten and vaccinate her for FIV. Since we are reluctant to do any more vaccinations than absolutely necessary, this would only happen if Judi runs out of patience in searching for an FIV+ female. The vaccine is considered to be about 82% effective and is recommended by the manufacturer for cats at high risk, like those living with FIV+ cats or in feral colonies. One downside to the vaccine is that the tests cannot differentiate between disease and vaccine, so a vaccinated cat will test positive. Many shelters still routinely euthanize FIV+ cats, so if our vaccinated cat ever got out, got lost and ended in a shelter…
Sam’s Page will be updated quarterly with his health status, our search for anew girlfriend for him, and the things we learn about FIV as we go along.