I’m writing up the details here as quite a few people are asking about this.
Saturday night, I noticed that Bagha’s right pupil was completely dilated. The next day, there was something cloudy inside the ocular globe. Monday morning, the vet had a look at him and told me this was an inflammation of the iris — uveitis, iridocyclitis to be precise. (I’m just giving you the links, you’ll have to click and read if you want more explanations.)
In cats, this is either due to trauma (fighting) or the symptom of a nasty illness: FeLV, against which most cats are vaccinated, FIP, FIV or toxoplasmosis. Toxoplasmosis is curable. FIP and FIV (the feline version of our human HIV) are not.
The vet took a blood sample and put Bagha on anti-toxoplasmosis drugs, and gave me drops to help his eyes drain the cloudy depot. By Tuesday evening, I noticed his other eye was getting cloudy, which seemed to rule out trauma.
I got the result of the blood test this afternoon: he tested positive for FIV, and positive for toxoplasmosis, the latter being a result of his depressed immunity due to FIV.
As with AIDS in humans, FIV weakens the immune system. The danger lies in opportunistic illnesses which will take advantage of the weakened immune system, and end up being fatal.
As far as Bagha is concerned, we can treat the toxoplasmosis (and the accompanying eye condition is reversible). That’ll be 2-4 weeks of treatment. In parallel, we’ll also give him an interferon-based treatment, which, if he reacts positively to it, with help strengthen his immune system and make him less vulnerable to opportunistic infections.
He therefore doesn’t seem in any immediate danger. And with a bit of luck, he can survive many months (or maybe even some years), particularly if he responds well to the treatment.
Unfortunately, this means that I’m going to have to try to keep him inside. Bagha is very much an outdoor cat (FIV’s first means of transmission is through bite wounds) and I’m not sure how well he’ll accept it. Keeping him indoors prevents him from infecting other cats in fights (though, as a cat may be a healthier FIV carrier for years, the damage is probably done already — he might also have been infected by a neighbourhood cat or roaming tom who is still out there) but more importantly, it also greatly reduces the risk he has of contracting illnesses — and thus increases his life expectancy accordingly.
I’ll give it a try and see how it goes. He lived indoors 3 months when I came back from India, and he was way more active then. If I give him enough play and an indoor-cat-friendly environment, hopefully it will work out.