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Almost all of the cats at Witty Kitties have special needs.
Most have either FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) or FeLV (feline leukemia virus).
Others have congenital deformities such as blindness or weak limbs,
or neurological disorders such as cerebellar hypoplasia.
Here's some brief information about the most common special needs at Witty Kitties... 

FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)

Both FIV and FeLV are called "retroviruses" because of the way that they replicate, or multiply, inside the cat's body.  FIV is further classified as a lentivirus, or "slow virus."

An FIV-positive cat may live for many years.  However, the virus eventually weakens the immune system, which limits the cat's ability to protect itself against other infections or illnesses.  Periods of relatively good health may be interspersed with recurrent illnesses.

FIV is spread primarily through bite wounds.  The virus is transmitted via the saliva of an FIV-positive cat when it bites deep into the tissue of another cat.  It is therefore commonly found in tomcats as they fight for territory and mates.  Casual, non-aggressive contact does NOT spread the virus.  The virus cannot survive for more than a few hours when exposed to air.  Therefore, an FIV-positive cat CAN live in a house with non-infected cats if they are all on friendly terms and don't fight with each other.  Sharing food and water bowls, litter pans, and even grooming each other will NOT spread the virus.

If acquired during adulthood, a cat with FIV can live a long, full life, and many do.  However, the weakened immune system can lead to recurrent or chronic conditions such as inflammation of the gums and mouth, skin, urinary, or upper respiratory infections, weight loss, anemia, persistent diarrhea, and cancer.

For additional information, please see:
http://bestfriends.org/resources/cats/fiv-cats-faqs, or contact us!

FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus)

FeLV is also a retrovirus, but it differs in many ways from FIV, including its shape and genetic makeup.   And although many of the diseases caused by the two viruses are similar, the specific way those diseases are caused is different.

About 65% of cats with FeLV will live a full life.  Unfortunately, the remaining 35% will probably die within three years.  Just like FIV, FeLV may cause a weakened immune system that limits the cat's ability to fight off other infections.  Periods of relatively good health may be interspersed with recurrent illnesses.

An FeLV-positive cat "sheds" high quantities of the virus in its saliva and nasal secretions.  Therefore, the virus can be spread from cat to cat through mutual grooming and, more rarely, by sharing food bowls and litter boxes, as well as through bite wounds.  An infected mother can also transmit the virus to her kittens before birth or while nursing.

FeLV is the most common cause of cancer in cats, and it may cause various blood disorders.  As with FIV, FeLV can weaken the immune system so that the same bacteria and viruses that usually do not affect a healthy animal can cause serious illness in a cat with FeLV.  Common secondary infections include inflammation of the gums and mouth, skin, urinary, or upper respiratory infections, and persistent diarrhea.

For additional information, please see:
http://bestfriends.org/resources/cats/felv-faqs, or contact us!

Cerebellar Hypoplasia

Cerebellar hypoplasia is a brain defect that results in loss of fine motor coordination.  (The cerebellum is the portion of the brain responsible for the control of motion.)  It can be caused by panleukopenia infection (feline distemper) prior to or shortly after birth, injury, or even poisoning.

It is generally possible to see signs of cerebellar hypoplasia almost as soon as the kitten is born.  Affected animals have tremors and unusual jerky movements or may fall down when they try to move.  The symptoms do not get worse as they age.  As the kitten grows it will learn to compensate for its condition, but there are usually lifelong signs of a decreased ability to coordinate movement.  Almost all cats with congenital cerebellar hypoplasia can live happily as pets with a little special care to compensate for their disabilities.

For additional information, please see http://www.vetinfo.com/cencyclopedia/cecerhypo.html, or contact us!

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