Our FIV positive cat Brinkley is sick. When he came to us as a foster (failed foster) in January 2012, Brinkley brought with him an upper respiratory infection from the shelter. This isn’t anything new, as almost all of the cats from that shelter leave sick. We knew going into this that Brinkley, being an FIV kitty, would require some extra care.
On Monday evening Brinkley quarantined himself from the rest of the cats. He made his way back to Laura’s bedroom, where he went to bed in a purple padded cube that he likes. Laura went to check on him during the night and offered him food. When he turned that cute little nose up at Sheba canned, she knew he was sick. Plus it’s unusual for him to be out of the living room area. Although not a lap cat, he prefers to be around the other cats.
Laura called me at work around 4 a.m. and I made plans to have him at the vet when the clinic opened at 8 a.m. This is the first time he’s ever been sick since the URI he brought with him from the shelter. Brinkley did well on the 30 minute drive, which is unusual. He doesn’t like to ride and he doesn’t like being confined to a carrier.
So there I stood outside, in 20 F. degree temperature for 20 minutes with a sick kitty after having worked all night, walking around in the same freezing temperature. I arrived at the vet early so he’d be the first seen. We were led into the exam room by his vet right at 8 a.m. After a basic exam where his temperature was checked (it was 104F), his lymph nodes checked and his chest listened to, and questions such as whether he lived outside (he’s indoor only) or had he been around any sick cats (we’ve had a good year health-wise) were answered, I received the diagnosis I expected. Brinkley had an upper respiratory infection. Thankfully, we’d caught it early.
I’m so proud of our boy. He didn’t hiss or growl or try to bite or get away. Brinkley sat on the steel exam table like the good boy that he is. The vet gave him an antibiotic injection, and sent us home with a bottle of Amoxicillin/Clavulanate (Clavamox®, Augmentin), which he’ll start on Wednesday morning. This is the drug that saved our Greenville shelter calicivirus kittens. I purchased a few cans of Prescription Diet A/D Critical Care as well, then stopped at the Tractor & Supply store on the way home to pick up a can of powdered KMR milk.
Laura opened a can of the A/D food immediately and prepared to syringe feed him (the vet said he didn’t need sub-q fluids). When she sat the food down, Brinkley decided he would eat it without any help from his human servants. He’s resting well, and should be back to his old self in a few days. He’s in Laura’s room in quarantine where he can rest without being disturbed.
I asked Michael if it would be okay for me to write about Brinkley being sick. I wanted to share how we aggressively treat any sick cat, because we’ve saved quite a few since starting this routine. Of course, it would be good to ask your vet, but this is what works for us. If a cat is unwilling to eat, and we can tell we’re dealing with something respiratory, the A/D food is given every two to three hours. It doesn’t have to be much. Just a small syringe or two is enough.
Sometimes Laura will mix the A/D food with the KMR milk, and sometimes the KMR milk is given in place of the food. Don’t use a cheap store cat milk, as it may not be as easy on the digestive system, and it isn’t a complete supplement like the KMR is. If only the KMR milk is used, around a few small syringes every two to three hours is enough. Hydration is critical with any sick cat, and this routine also helps a sick cat regain energy lost fighting an infection.
I also wanted to let cat lovers know that having an FIV positive cat isn’t a death sentence. A lot of people are afraid to keep an FIV cat with other cats. This is a recent article someone shared with me about how FIV cats have little chance of infecting a healthy cat. It takes a deep bite wound to infect another cat. Brinkley is very calm and tame, and lives with the rest of our cats since he isn’t aggressive.
I read somewhere awhile back that FIV positive cats usually only live around two years after diagnosis. I don’t believe this, but can’t remember the website to reread the information. We’ve had Brinkley for almost three years, and he’s been a healthy 16 pound cat the entire time. Many, many shelter cats are killed because fosters, rescues and adopters just aren’t there or don’t have room or are afraid. In my area, Suzy’s Zoo for FeLV and FIV positive cats saves dozens of these cats from high-kill shelters on a monthly basis. FIV cats have a good chance at adoption, If they can survive the shelter without becoming ill or being euthanized because of their status, or because they become too sick.
Please remember Brinkley the next time you see an FIV cat at your local shelter or favorite rescue. They make just as good a pet as a healthy cat, and will give you years of love. The rule of thumb is to catch any illness early, and see a vet at the first sign of a health problem. If any of you with an FIV positive cat have any recovery secrets to share in treating a sick cat, please tell us all so we can keep our special needs cats healthy.