Tips to boost your cat's immune system

Immune Support for Cats — Your Complete Guide

Just like humans, cats have their own seasonal viruses and illnesses they can catch from other cats. Immune support for cats is important when it comes to keeping them protected. If your cat is indoors only, and you have limited contact with animals outside of your home, then you probably don’t have much to worry about when it comes to your cat’s immune system. But if your cat spends time with any other cats outside of your home, and you have contact with other cats on a regular basis, it’s important to boost your cat’s immune system as much as possible.

As a cat owner, you should be aware of…

  • Viral cat illnesses
  • Symptoms of a sick cat
  • Stress management as immune support for cats
  • What kind of nutritious diet your cat should eat
  • If there are any gaps in their nutrition
  • How preventative veterinary care boosts your cat’s immune system

Viral Cat Illnesses

There are a few different illnesses that you cat could easily catch from other cats.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV is the feline equivalent to AIDS. It’s spread through the saliva of an infected cat, usually through a bite. It’s commonly found in outdoor cat colonies where it could be spread from cat to cat through fights. It specifically attacks and weakens your cat’s immune system.

A cat is diagnosed with FIV through a simple blood test conducted by a veterinarian. It’s important to note that there is no treatment or cure for FIV. Once a cat is infected with it, they have it for life, but you can work with your veterinarian to figure out a care plan for your cat to give them a comfortable life with extra immune support. Most cats diagnosed with FIV don’t live as long as healthy cats, but they can still have a happy, full life.

If you do have a cat infected with FIV, it’s important to keep them away from other cats and do everything possible to prevent them from getting sick with any other illness.

Feline Viral Rhinotracheitis

This is a group of highly contagious respiratory infections in cats. Kittens and adult cats alike can be affected. Herpesvirus and Calicivirus make up the majority of the infections, but Chlamydophila, Mycoplasma, and Bordetella are some other example viruses included in the group.

These viruses are spread through the sneezes of infected cats. Symptoms include sneezing, running nose and eyes, a cough, ulcers, and even a fever. The viruses are most commonly spread in places where there are a lot of cats, including animal shelters. If you work in the animal industry and come in contact with cats who have one of these viruses, it’s important to clean up before coming home and interacting with your own cat. 

Treatment for these viruses usually include: 

  • Antibiotics
  • Fluids
  • Antiviral medication 

With the right treatment from your veterinarian, your cat can make a full recovery.

Protect your cat's immune system by limiting their exposure to cats outside your household.
If you’re around a lot of other cats, it’s important to clean up before interacting with your own cat.

Sick Cat Symptoms

Some of the most common symptoms to look out for in your cat are:

  • Abnormal behavior
  • Dehydration
  • Weight loss
  • Lethargy
  • Changes in eating and drinking habits
  • Abnormal litter box habits
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discharge from eyes and/or nose
  • Sneezing

If your cat suddenly exhibits one or more of the above symptoms, you should have them examined by a veterinarian right away. PetWellClinic offers convenient, affordable veterinary care with our walk-in clinic model. No appointment necessary! Simply choose which location you’ll be visiting with your pet, text us when you arrive, and we’ll get your pet checked in.

Cat Stress: Is It Connected to Immune Support for Cats?

One of the best ways you can set your cat up for success is through extra immune support, including giving your cat everything they need to thrive. As a cat owner, you’ve probably seen products marketed towards you for cat supplements or special treats and diets that promise to improve your cat’s immune system. The best resource for ensuring your cat’s immune system is supported is always going to be by talking with your PetWellClinic veterinarian. However, here are some other easy things you can do at home for immune support for cats!

Stressed Cat Symptoms

A stressed out cat is a cat just waiting to get sick. The good news is that cats are very good at letting us know when they’re stressed out. What signs of stress should you look for in your cat?

  • Loss of appetite
  • Urine marking (including peeing outside of the litter box)
  • Trying to eat things that aren’t food
  • Less playing and exploring
  • Hiding
  • Increased vocalization
  • Sudden aggressive behavior
  • Over-grooming
  • Anti-social behavior (specifically in cats who enjoy socializing with other animals and people usually)

What causes stress in your cat? It can be a number of things:

  • Inappropriate socialization
  • Conflicts with other animals
  • Changes in their daily routine
  • New environments (typically from traveling or moving)
  • Lack of stimulation

Anxious Cat Treatments

Stress in your cat can be linked to a suppressed immune system, which can make it easier for your cat to contract contagious viruses from other cats. To reduce your cat’s stress levels, there’s a number of simple things you can try:

  1. Increase environmental enrichment through providing toys that encourage your cat’s natural instincts (e.g. hunting).
  2. Provide space in your home for your cat to explore, whether it’s a cat tree, shelves, or platforms.
  3. Use artificial pheromones to communicate safe spaces to your cat. These come in the form of plug-in diffusers, sprays, wipes, and collars.
  4. If your cat seems to be stressed due to the presence of other cats or pets, talk to your veterinarian about how to slowly introduce them to each other.
  5. Make sure your cat’s litter box is kept clean and tidy, and that you have enough boxes for the number of cats in your home.

Taking these small steps to make your home a happy environment for your cat can go a long way in soothing their stress and anxieties. A cat will let you know when it’s stressed sooner than when it’s hurt or sick, but it will also let you know when it’s happy and content. Managing stress can provide natural immune support for cats.

Keep your cats healthy with regular enriching activities
Providing your cat with opportunities for enrichment can keep them healthy and happy!

Cat Diets & Their Health

One of the easiest ways to support your cat’s immune system is by ensuring that their diet is giving them the nutrients they need. But going to the pet store and walking down the cat food aisle can be more than overwhelming. The options for cat food are endless today.

You’ve probably heard the hype about grain free diets, raw food diets, wet food diets versus dry food diets, and everything else on the shelves. But what does your cat need? The ASPCA has a handy guide to cat nutrition for felines of all ages, but the best way to discover what your cat individually needs in their diet is to talk to your PetWellClinic veterinarian. 

Your veterinarian can tell a lot about what nutrients your cat may be lacking through bloodwork done at their annual exams. This is something that can be done when you bring your cat to PetWellClinic for their Cat Wellness Package. The important thing to remember is that finding the right food for your cat doesn’t have to be complicated. There are always a lot of companies trying to sell you the latest and ‘greatest,’ but their products may not always be what your cat needs. But your veterinarian can make recommendations based on your cat’s health.

Your cat's diet is important in keeping them healthy and happy.
Your cat’s diet can provide them with the nutrients they need to stay healthy.

Does My Cat Need a Nutritional Supplement?

Just like pet food products, there are a lot of nutritional supplements marketed to pet owners claiming to be exactly what your pet needs. But not every cat is going to need nutritional supplements. 

A healthy cat most likely gets all of the nutrients they need from their food. But if your cat has any kind of immune deficiencies or allergies that make feeding them a fully nutritious diet tricky, talking to your veterinarian about giving them a supplement may be a good idea. Just make sure to talk to a professional before going out and spending a lot of money on the first nutritional supplement you see for cats. Not all supplements are created equal.

Questions about how to provide a nutritious diet for your cat? Visit your local PetWellClinic to talk to one of our veterinary professionals today about your pet’s nutrition needs.

A Healthy Cat is a Happy Cat

A good rule of thumb for cat owners, and a wonderful take away from this blog post, is that a happy cat is usually a healthy cat. Our feline friends don’t always show obvious symptoms or distress when they’re sick or hurting, so it’s important to use the power of preventive veterinary medicine to do everything to make sure they stay healthy. What specific steps should you take to keep your cat healthy?

  • An annual physical exam
  • Routine vaccinations
  • An enriching environment that decreases stress levels
  • A nutritious diet
  • Nutritional supplements (if recommended by a veterinarian)
  • Veterinary care as soon as you notice your cat is behaving abnormally or is in distress
Being proactive about your cat's health can keep both you and your cat happier!
Keep your cat healthy and you’ll both be happy!

PetWellClinic is dedicated to being here for our patients and their owners. Our hours of operation extend into the evenings and weekends so we can be there when you need us, and our clinic environment is built with your pet’s comfort in mind. We can help your cat weather the storm of minor illnesses, as well as set their immune system up for success through routine care.

PetWellClinic provides convenient, affordable veterinary care for pet owners. PetWellClinic has locations and services built with your convenience in mind. Stop by with your pet any time! No appointment necessary. 

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