Rescuing Feral Cats: What You Need to Know Part 2

When rescuing feral cats you need to be aware of the diseases that can be communicated from one cat to another so you can protect your furry companions from diseases such as FIV, FPV, ans FeLV.

In part one of this series; I introduced you to the idea of Feral Cat Rescue and the danger of Zoonosis, the diseases that cats can spread to humans. In this part, I will touch upon the diseases that cats can spread to other animals. I will also touch upon some principles of first aid for yourself and for the animals you TNR (Trap-Neuter-Release).

Diseases that can be transmitted to other animals

I want to remind you once again that I am neither a licensed veterinarian nor a medical doctor. These articles are based on research and practical experience as a lay person with extensive experience with cats and cat rescue. Like with my list of zoonotic diseases, this list is not exhaustive, I have just listed the most common diseases here.


Parvoviruses are a number of DNA (Deoxyribonucleic Acid) viruses that cause several diseases in animals, including people, but humans cannot catch FPV. The human type of parvovirus is an entirely different from feline or canine parvovirus. Felines can only pass FPV on to other felines. In cats, this virus takes the form of FPV (Feline Panleukopenia} which is more commonly referred to as Feline Distemper. FPV is so widely spread in nature that virtually all cats will come into contact with it at some time in their lives; stray cats, feral cats, and tame outdoor cats are especially likely to come in contact with FPV. The symptoms of FPV are fever, vomiting, diarrhea, and seizures. In kittens and malnourished cats, FPV usually results in death. Feline Panleukopenia can be treated if caught in time, but the cat with FPV needs to be isolated from other cats. Once the cats are cured of FPV, the room where the cat was kept needs to be sterilized using a solution of one part household bleach to thirty-two parts water.

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)

The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is quite common amongst all cats. In the United States, according to Cornell University veterinarians, 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is primarily transmitted from one feline to another through bite wounds, so it is necessary to keep FIV positive cats isolated from FIV negative cats. The symptoms presented by FIV positive cats are many.

• A dull coat, accompanied by a constant fever and a persistent loss of appetite is a symptom of FIV.

• Oral diseases such as Gingivitis and Stomatitis are a symptom of FIV.

• Chronic or recurring skin infection, urinary tract disorders upper respiratory tact disorders are symptomatic of FIV.

• A variety of eye infections along with persistent diarrhea is symptomatic of FIV.

• A gradual wright loss is an early symptom of FIV.

• Cancer and blood diseases are common in FIV positive cats.

• Female FIV positive cats often abort their litters or show signs of other reproductive problems.

• Cats that FIV positive may show behavior changes or exhibit seizures or neurological disorders.

Humans cannot contract FIV from infected animals, but FIV positive cats do present a danger to FIV negative cats, so they need to be kept isolated. Cats that are FIV Positive can, with the proper care, live long lives, but it can be a lonely life unless they have another FIV Positive cat to share it with.

Feline Leukemia (FeLV)

Feline Leukemia is a worldwide problem for cats. In the United States, according to a Cornell University School of Veterinary Medicine paper, 3 to 5 percent of otherwise healthy cats suffer from FeLV. In cats that are suffering from other medical problems, the percentage with FeLV soars to 13 percent or higher. The presenting symptoms of cats suffering from FeLV are much the same as cats suffering FIV.

• Loss of appetite

• Slow but progressive weight loss, followed by severe wasting late in the disease process

• Poor coat condition

• Enlarged lymph nodes

• Persistent fever

• Pale gums and other mucus membranes

• Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis) and mouth (stomatitis)

• Infections of the skin, urinary bladder, and upper respiratory tract

• Persistent diarrhea

• Seizures, behavior changes, and other neurological disorders

• A variety of eye conditions

• In unspayed female cats, abortion of kittens or other reproductive failures

Once again humans cannot catch FeLV but is essential that these cats be kept isolated from uninfected cats. When FeLV cats pass over Rainbow Bridge, disinfect their quarters with the 1:32 water-bleach solution.

In conclusion

This part is starting to run a little long, so I will cover First Aid in the next part. I firmly believe that a Factoid should present knowledge in easily digest amounts, so I try to keep my articles between 600 and 1000 words in length. I would be able to do that if I was to cover first aid in this part of this series.


Rescuing Feral Cats: WhatYou Need to Know Part 1

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Roberta Baxter
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Posted on Sep 18, 2011