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Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:48 am
by Emma + Merlin
Hi guys, I came across this forum whilst researching FIV and thought you all might be the best source of information due to your collective experiences with FIV.

I took my 4 year old male tabby, Merlin, to the vets last week as his eye was weepy and he had a bit of a runny nose. This is not uncommon for merlin though as he is a cat flu carrier. I got him from a family that told us they got him from a shelter and could not keep him as he was fighting with their 15 year old cat. When I got him he had severe scarring of one of his eyes and he has always been sniffly due to the permanent damage to his nasal passages.

I didnt think anything of it, thought it was just more cat flu symptoms. I took him to the vet expecting to get some eye drops but as we were thinking of giving him some metacam for the inflammation of his eye we thought we better do a blood test to check his kidney function - he drinks a lot and constantly whines for food so we wanted to rule out diabetes.

I went home and got a phone call from my vet later saying he wasn't diabetic, his kidney and liver function was great. But then she said he had no lymphocytes in his blood sample - lymphocytopenia. As a medical biologist I knew this most likely meant FIV, FeLV or leukemia/bone marrow problem. So we had him tested and she confirmed FIV.

The problem is Merlin is late stage FIV, so she has given him about a year to live. As far as I have read his progression to late stage so fast is probably due to him also being a cat flu carrier- cat flu carriers fail to make autoantibodies against cell surface proteins that FIV uses to enter and replicate within cells.

So my questions are; what is your experience with late stage kitties? All the information Ive read seems to only apply to the 2nd asymptomatic stage. What can I do to help Merlin? I should mention he is an indoor only kitty, he and his 6 adopted siblings have been indoor since I got them.

How unhealthy and sick shoulď I expect him to be? He's a massive pudding and we have to keep him on a diet, hes currently weighing 5 kg but was 6.5 kg last year. The vet doesnt consider him obese any more but hes still got a bit of podge. He is in no way off his food. Not even almost! He also runs around the house like a lunatic and is very playful. Shouldn't he be tired and off his food?

He has a minor chest infection at the moment that we are treating with antibiotics and he seems to be responding. He's only had antibiotics twice in his life so far for cat flu flare ups. So Im confused as to why he's not more sick with secondary infections if he now has FAIDS? Anyone have any experience with this?

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 7:55 am
by Janey
Hi and welcome,

I’ve never had an FIV cat and hopefully experienced owners or more knowledgeable people will reply. However, I am surprised at the vets diagnosis from what I have read. I do know that there’s lots of useful information in this booklet:

There is also lots of information here:

and here:

Sending cuddles to your little boy xx

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 8:03 am
by Emma + Merlin
Hi Janey I've already had a good look through this information. It was the only thing that got me to calm down after the vet told me Merlin only had a year or so left. It was really, really helpful. So thank you =)

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 9:11 am
by Emma + Merlin
phppG0xpH_c1AM.jpg (7.82 KiB) Viewed 8335 times
This was Merlin a few days ago - his poor neck is a bit baldy from the blood test shaving!

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 11:43 am
by Janey
Aww, Merlin is gorgeous :) he has a very sweet face.

I hope that you get some replies from other FIV owners Emma. You could also post in the Health & Behaviour section, worth a try as many members don’t visit this section. Also it tends to be quieter on a weekend on the forum generally.

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 4:08 pm
by Emma + Merlin
Haha, thanks, he's got what we like to refer to as a pinhead! He's still got a tiny kitten head on a bigger cat's body. I don't mind waiting on people's responses, I may post on the other section too. I have also got in touch with Bob and Barbera from They seem very helpful and lovely people =)

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 6:14 pm
by Janey
Bless him, lol. Good idea contacting Bob and Barbara. He’s a lucky little lad having you care for him so much but he does look adorable.

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:24 pm
by bobbys girl
Hi Emma. Merlin is beautiful!

My Bob is FIV+. He is just over three years old and so far so good. He was born with nerve damage to his left front leg. He managed very well for a while. Then the leg got infected and we were advised to have it amputated. It was only then, just before the Op that we found out about his FIV+ status. The bottom dropped out of my world and we thought we would lose him. Even after the leg was removed the infection was very deep seated and took several courses of AB's to shift it. Two years on, he is fighting fit.

Bob and Barbara were wonderful and so supportive. What have they said about late stage FIV? I'm sure they have seen it all!

My Bobby is an indoor/outdoor cat and has exactly the same diet as my other three FIV- girls. I do worry about him far more than the girls, but at the moment he is in very good health.

I really hope Merlin can come back from this and continue to lead a long healthy life whatever the vet has said. Don't give up hope, We don't have all the answers, but I would trust the word of Bob and Barbara over any vet as they have so much more experience of this disease.

Fusses to the lovely Merlin

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sat Aug 20, 2016 10:49 pm
by Emma + Merlin
Hi Bobby's Girl,

Thanks! Lil Merlin is my best friend, he's my first kitty and he's kept me company through some tough times. I was devastated when I found out, I couldn't stop crying, and it was the day before one of my biggest university exams too. So I went into the exam like a blubbering idiot :oops:

Barbara and Bob got back to me saying they didn't think it was end-stage from what I was describing - that he would be a heck of a lot more sick than he is now and he wouldn't be responding to any medicine, which he is.

I'm glad to hear your Bob is doing well =) If he is the black kitty in your avatar he is gorgeous! I love black kitties, one of my other rescues is a huge black DSH called Edgar and I have a little epileptic black DSH kitty with neurological damage called Vincent (He's extra special!).

It seems so far that the information my vet has given me is textbook and not from experience. I will see my normal vet again on Monday/Tuesday and see what she says (the vet I seen was a locum standing in for her). My regular vet has been very good with my other six rescues and when she's not sure of something she's happy to work with me and listen to the information I bring her.

Many headbumps to Bob!

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Sun Aug 21, 2016 8:26 am
by bobbys girl
Bob says thanks for the headbumps!

The avatar photo was taken when he was still very young. I also have a 'special needs' kitty. Purdy lost the site in one eye after getting into a fight as a young cat. It hasn't slowed her downany! My other two are, my first cat pussy Willow who is also black and Gracie a little, fat tabby and white.

I remember when I found out about Bob. I was shopping when my OH called me. I finished the shopping on automatic pilot and forgot half the things on the list!

There is still a lot of ignorance about FIV and many vets still operate a PTS 'solution'. :twisted:

Just keep doing what you are doing and you should have him with you for years. Gotta go Bob is crying for his breakfast! :roll:

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 4:57 pm
by Emma + Merlin
Just letting everyone know how Merlin's doing. We took him back to the vet after confirmation that his insurance company would cover his FIV treatments (as long as it doesn't relate to his cat flu which he had from his time on the streets before he came to me). His second blood tests showed low platelets but an increase in white blood cell count almost to the low end of normal. His microcytic anemia has cleared up and he has generally seemed in good spirits. We have just finished 5 daily injections of interferon and will do a blood test on Tuesday to see if this improves his blood counts any! If there is an improvement he will get another 5 injections. Has anyone tried interferon for the treatment of FIV and what was your experience with it? I'm sure a lot of people wouldn't be able to afford it without insurance since it's £1500 for one round of treatment. I'm very glad I decided to get Merlin insured!

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Fri Sep 16, 2016 5:30 pm
by bobbys girl
Lovely to hear from you and so pleased to hear he is doing OK.

Sorry I have no experience of Interferon treatment. It IS a good job you got insurance! :shock: Wishing you all the best, please stay in touch. Bobby says hello to Merlin. :)

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 10:55 am
by Cussypat1974
I am delighted to hear he is doing so well!

I have many FIV cats, as I run a small sanctuary, but have no experience in using interferon for FIV.

I have also lost many FIV cats over the years...... They always died from "something else" however..... To be honest, the cats I seem to end up with have so many issues going on it is often impossible to have an actual cause of death. I've had them go from thromboembolisms related to heart murmurs, various types of cancer, kidney failure etc etc..... All pretty common reasons cats die or are euthanised. I had one up PTs due to intestinal lymphoma, which is generally linked to FeLV, but he was negative!

As for what to expect..... Well, he is already defying the odds eh? And that is something I have found that many (most?) FIV cats tend to do. My first known FIV, Ghostie, is still going strong. She is feral and was rescued from starvation and relentless reproduction. Lozzie looked half dead and emaciated until she was two years old. JImi Hendrix was finally euthanised aged 28 after a series of mini-strokes! Others haven't been so lucky of course, but considering the awful circumstances they were rescued from, and the inbreeding and congenital issues involved, that is hardly surprising, and cannot definitively be linked to the FIV. I had a family of seven who all died from heart failure for example. They were feral but all inbred with each other and FIV+.

Re: Newly Diagnosed Late Stage FIV - 4 Year Old Kitty

Posted: Wed Sep 28, 2016 11:39 pm
by Crewella
I'm afraid I have no experience of Interferon either, but I'm so pleased he seems to be doing well :)