Appointments: (02) 6251 1444
16-18 Purdue St, Belconnen, ACT
(Parking via Gillott Street)
Mon - Fri: 8:30am - 5:30pm
Saturday: 8:30am - 1:00pm

Canberra Cat Vet Blog

Cat fights

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Cats typically have a hate-hate relationship with any strange cat in their presence, yard, or environment.

When new cats meet, they fluff up, spit, hiss – more like scream! – and the fur soon goes flying. While the brawl may only last a few seconds, that’s enough time for a few diseases to jump bodies.

Feline leukemia (FeLV), feline immunodeficiency virus or cat AIDS (FIV), infectious peritonitis (FIP), or nasty bacterial infections are transmitted from cat to cat in saliva.

Outside cats, particularly unneutered males, love to fight. Most times they will end up with a nasty abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus under the skin. It makes a cat very ill because of the bacteria and toxins it releases into the bloodstream. He is feverish, goes off his food, hides and sleeps a lot. Treatment for abscesses involves a general anaesthesia, clipping and cleaning the skin, lancing the abscess and flushing all the pus out, placing a drain to allow any new pus to empty, antibiotics and pain relief. Some cats are so sick they need hospitalisation and intravenous fluids for a night or two.

How do we avoid all this??

  • Desex your cat if he is still entire.
  • Keep him indoors, particularly in the evenings and at night when the brawling usually happens.
  • Keep other cats off your property. A dog on patrol will soon despatch an intruder. Otherwise keep an eye out for a few evenings and frighten strays off with a loud noise.
  • Catch the infection as soon as possible. If your cat has been in a fight bring him immediately for an antibiotic shot to discourage the abscess from forming.
  • Vaccinate your cat against FIV, Feline AIDS. There are three shots in the initial course. A booster at the annual checkup and vaccine review prevents the virus gaining a toe hold.  

Feline FIV and AIDS

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Australia has one of the highest prevalences of FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) in the world BUT testing positive for FIV is not the same as having the disease feline AIDS.

Feline AIDS describes the terminal stages of disease which may not occur for many years – or at all! A positive FIV test means that your cat has been infected by the virus.

 Are my family at risk?No. Although FIV belongs to the same family of viruses as HIV in people, it only infects cats. There is no risk of cross infection of either virus between species.

 Are other cats in the household likely to be infected?

 The virus is shed in the saliva of infected cats and spread by biting. Cats with a history of cat bite abscesses are more likely to test positive for FIV. Spread between cats in a household is unlikely unless they fight. Normal social interactions such as grooming rarely transmit FIV. The best way to minimise the chances of FIV infection is to confine uninfected cats indoors away from aggressive cats.  How is FIV diagnosed?

FIV is diagnosed with a blood test at the surgery which detects an immune response (antibodies) to the virus. If this test is positive your cat is infected. Kittens with immunity passed on from their mother may test positive until 4 months of age. If a young kitten tests positive we retest them at six months of age. Will my cat recover?

Once a cat is infected with the virus it remains infected for the rest of its life but not all infected cats  become ill.  What diseases does FIV cause?

Like HIV, FIV suppresses the body’s defences so that the cat is vulnerable to diseases it would normally  defeat. The cat is vulnerable to chronic or recurrent infections that fail to respond to regular treatment. These include:
  1. Inflammation of the mouth and tongue leading to appetite loss, drooling and mouth pain
  2. Weight loss
  3. Poor appetite
  4. Fever
  5. Signs of brain dysfunction such as aggression, unequal pupils, convulsions and behavioural changes
  6. Swollen lymph glands
  7. Unusual infections like toxoplasmosis, cryptococcosis, chronic flu, pneumonia, skin disease
  8. Tumours especially those of the lymph system
The non specific signs of weight loss, poor appetite and fever occur in many diseases of cats and are usually unrelated to FIV. Cats with FIV are more likely to suffer from these signs and diseases more often and  be less able to throw them off even with treatment. FIV positive cats have a shorter life expectancy on average than FIV negative cats. Is there any treatment?

Secondary infections with bacteria or fungi are treated with antibiotics and anti-fungals but no specific treatment for the virus is available. Trials with anti-HIV drugs such as AZT have reduced mouth inflammation in affected cats but the cost and availability of AZT makes its use in general practice difficult at present. Anti-inflammatory treatment reduces mouth inflammation and peps up the appetite in many cats. Should I have my cat euthanased?

Certainly not on the basis of a positive FIV test!  Like humans with HIV, cats with FIV appear healthy and happy for a long time before getting sick. On the other hand if your cat has succumbed to multiple infections, is no longer responsive to treatment or is suffering from a chronically painful mouth then euthanasia is the kindest solution. How can I help my cat?

 Confinement indoors of an FIV positive cat  reduces the risk of infection with other agents. It also reduces the risk of transmission of the virus to other cats. A good quality, highly palatable diet as well as worming every 3 months and at least annual health checks will enhance the disease free period. Infections especially abscesses require prompt and aggressive treatment. How do we prevent FIV infection?  Desexing and confinement indoors, especially at night, reduces fighting and therefore the risk of infection. We recommend vaccination with FIV vaccine for all cats with access to the outdoors. Cats older than 6 months of age are tested for FIV before the first vaccination. A series of three primary vaccinations is given 2-4 weeks apart and then a booster is given annually.



Search Blog

Recent Posts


when to go to vet blindness cranky poisonous New Year's Eve desex open night christmas thyroid roundworm sick snakebite thirsty check-up collapse blind tablet eyes snuffle health check pet fear attack heavy breathing hyperthyroidism fever vocal scale learning cat enclosures stress train virus obesity echocardiography sensitive urinating antiviral poisoning best veterinarian painful hyperactive renal disease aerokat abscess bump pain hearing hole home enteritis fits vomiting pain killer dental snuffles joints diabetes cat history blood in urine paralysed fireworks ribbon checkup return home best clinic cage home visit changed eye blockage antibiotics hospital bite feline enteritis AIDS dental treatment hungry paralysis tick rub drinking more chlamydia old permethrin kitten deaths aspirin eye infection tradesmen blocked cat bad breath worms rigid head vaccine Hill's Metabolic worming allergy, catoberfest cat containment kittens ulcers dementia love outdoor cat off food enclosure mince food puzzles allergy kidney hunched over rolls plaque kitten weight urination pet insurance runny nose gasping wool conflict Canberra eye ulcer gifts skin cancer new kitten ulcerated nose wet litter dymadon cat vet feliway free corneal ulcer fight panadeine aggression cat worms fleas headache seizures blue petting cat furballs cryptococcosis grooming cat flu blood marking hard faeces cystitis behaviour yowling urine cat fight itchy lily holes dental check kidney disease noisy breathing stiff slow inflammatory bowel disease spray pain relief birthday cat behaviour urinating on curtains or carpet RSPCA body language sore eyes paracetamol tooth kidneys skin decision to euthanase heart disease aggressive hiding on heat prednisolone pet meat jumping introducing competition sensitive stomach introduction new year feline AIDS flea prevention feline herpesvirus scratching kibble diet diuretics radioactive iodine unsociable tick snake high blood pressure spey anxiety sore ears twitching abscess,cat fight liver rough play photo competition toxins weight control head not eating award hairball senses carrier lick ACT change depomedrol urinating outside litter paralysis sense of smell Canberra Cat Vet drinking a lot spraying opening hours urine spraying scratching post revolution holes in teeth desexing unwell vision goodbye biopsy IBD sore appointment herpesvirus insulin indoor cats rash appetite snot pill brown snake behaviour change prey grass wobbles annual check old cat lilies information night hypertension nails cat friendly examination bed stare into space lame salivation overweight physical activity teeth panadol bladder stones cat odour thiamine deficiency groom flu xylitol holiday lump runny eyes pred strange behaviour scratch ulcer poisons best cat clinic kitten play crytococcosus sucking wool fabric mycoplasma fat poison flea treatment tapeworm training anaemia touch euthanasia cough string cat enclosure panleukopenia meows a lot litter best vet panleukopaenia mass African wild cat panamax vaccination snakes sudden blindness pheromone breeder tartar nose scabs hunters introduce diarrhoea vomit cognitive dysfunction hunting FORLS new cat skinny hypertrophic cardiomyopathy computer bladder heaing castration whiskers open day straining dilated pupils constipation pancreatitis hunter breathing difficult plants litter box blood pressure cancer sick cat client night lilly senior FIV adipokines vet visit tumour socialisation cortisone in season obese house call massage sun poisonous plants advantage signs of pain intestine toxic moving blood test pica introductions discount mouth breathing restless enemies mental health of cats visit cta fight furball exercise activity microchip dry food holidays polish fluid pills asthma foreign body calicivirus comfortis lymphoma face rub snake bite arthritis weight loss sneeze


A calm, quiet haven for cats and their carers staffed by experienced, cat loving vets and nurses.

Canberra Cat Vet 16-18 Purdue St Belconnen ACT 2617 (parking off Gillott Street) Phone: (02) 6251-1444

Get Directions