"Natural Treatments Offer Best Hope For Cats With FIV"
Each year, thousands of cats are diagnosed with
Feline AIDS, also known as the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV.
This potentially life-threatening disease attacks and impairs the
immune system, leaving infected animals vulnerable to a variety of
infections. Even a seemingly innocent head cold can pose serious risks
for these cats.
The name “Feline AIDS” inspires fear in the hearts
of many pet owners. However, this disease is not the same virus that
FIV is species specific, affecting only cats.
Furthermore, it is not easily spread among the feline population. Deep,
penetrating bite wounds like those exchanged by un-neutered males
during fights are the most common means of transmission, and some
evidence suggests that mothers can pass the disease to their unborn
kittens. Infected cats can share litter pans and food dishes with their
housemates without spreading the disease.
Because traditional veterinary medicine doesn’t
offer a “cure” for Feline AIDS, well-meaning veterinarians often
recommend euthanasia as a primary course of action. Others attempt to
treat infected cats with aggressive courses of prescription drugs,
including steroids, interferon, AZT, and antibiotics. This approach is
problematic, as each of these medications can produce substantial side
effects and further suppress the immune system — the last thing an
immune compromised animal can afford.
While medical treatments for Feline AIDS are
somewhat limited, natural therapies offer a variety of benefits.
Vitamin supplements, homeopathy and herbals, for example, can bolster
an ailing cat’s immune system, even during the advanced stages of the
disease. Most of these products are affordable and available at any
health food store.
Comprehensive dietary nutrition is also essential
for cats with FIV. Keeping them alive and healthy on a diet of
commercial pet food is extremely difficult, as these foods are
nutritionally inadequate and laden with harmful colorings,
preservatives, and inferior meat sources.
Many holistic practitioners recommend raw meat for
cats with Feline AIDS. Some pet owners question the safety of a raw
diet, but FIV+ cats frequently thrive on this rich, whole food
nutrition. Unlike humans, animals are designed to safely digest raw
foods as they would in the wild.
Although natural treatments have proven effective,
anyone caring for an FIV+ cat should maintain a good relationship with
a skilled medical vet. Immune compromised animals sometimes require
IV’s, oral cleanings, and other supportive care. Pet owners should
exercise caution, however, as some common medical treatments — such as
vaccinations — pose a threat to cats with FIV.
Cats receiving natural treatments often enjoy a
high quality of life for many years, but there are times when
euthanasia is the compassionate choice for animals in the throws of
advanced Feline AIDS. The bottom line is that a diagnosis of FIV is not
an automatic death sentence.
Thomas Hapka, is a freelance writer and author of Feline AIDS: A Pet
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