Bagha Health Update

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.

Thanks to all those of you who put up with my “kitty updates” on Twitter and IRC and offered me support when needed. I’m collecting relevant cats+health links on del.icio.us for anyone interested.

Update, 10.08.07: check the comments; Bagha will still be able to go outside, just less. Way less worried now.

About Stephanie Booth

Blogging since 2000, and still at it. Sailing, skiing, judo-ing. Geek with social skills. Freelance consultant, speaker, trainer, thinker. Social media without the hype.
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11 Responses to Bagha Health Update

  1. Graham says:

    Our Cat Simba disappeared 18months ago and was with us for over 10 years. We understand a lot of what you are going through and hope all goes as well as it can go for you both. If we can be of any help just let me know. Graham.

  2. Chris Waigl says:

    Oh damn, poor Bagha, and poor you. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that he’s a healthy carrier for a long while, and that the toxoplasmosis disappears quickly.

  3. Steph says:

    Thanks for the comments… Actually, given he’s developed toxoplasmosis when cats are usually healthy hosts to the parasite, that means he’s come out of the “healthy carrier” stage and his immune system is already compromised.

    So it means that once the toxo is cured, I need to keep a very close eye on his health (which I was already doing anyway) and react quickly if he develops anything abnormal.

  4. Sofia says:

    Oh no!!! I am so so so sorry. But let’s hope for the best. Cats have a good knack for surviving and adjusting to new situations.

    Just a suggestion, but maybe letting your neighborhood know that your cat has the infection and ask other cat owners to test their cats too.

    All the very best to you and Bagha

  5. Steph says:

    Yeah, I’ve thought about that, Sofia. Going to talk to the vet about it first. I don’t want to start a panic either, or have all the little old ladies in the building start pointing accusing fingers at me and my “cat with AIDS”.

    But I think it would make sense to inform the neighbourhood that it’s worth testing their cats for FIV. There is an unneutered tom that roams around here — I think he’s feral, he doesn’t look very healthy and is not interested in humans. Wouldn’t be surprised if he had it, given FIV is mainly caught be fighting males (like Bagha).

  6. Sarah says:

    Sorry to hear about Bagha, but happy to know he can be treated for toxoplasmosis. As for spending a life on the inside, he’ll get used to it. Really!
    Hope to see you both, soon.

  7. Archange says:

    Sorry to read that. I’m myself a cat-lover and had several. One surprisingly survived a very developed cancer (similar to breast cancer for human) but after a long time of cares and as well she couldnt go out at all (she was almost cut in half to remove all the nasty cells).

    Anyway, when it hurts and they feel they are really bad, they understand all the efforts we re doing and somehow as bizarre as it seems they are thankful. Even when we dont think they understand, they often do, surprisingly…

  8. Steph says:

    Again, thanks to everyone for the kind words. I’ve encouraged Bagha to start blogging his thoughts on this whole thing on his Catster account:

    http://www.catster.com/cats/519249/diary

  9. Steph says:

    So, after a visit to the vet’s yesterday, I’m much less worried. My vet and I agree that letting Bagha out is an acceptable risk both to himself and to other cats (he’s been going out and fighting with everybody while FIV+ for years now) — I’ll just limit his outdoor time, for example, not leaving him out all day, just a couple of hours.

    We also agree it’s no use raising a panic in the neighbourhood by informing every cat owner of his status — for the same reason FIV testing is not done systematically anymore, but only when there is a reason to suspect the cat has become immunodeficient.

  10. Pingback: Bagha Update: Better Than I Feared « Stephanie’s Cheese Sandwich Blog

  11. Pingback: Vivre avec un chat FIV+ — dédramatisons | Climb to the Stars

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