What is Weak Immune System?
A weak immune system in cats, as well as other species, is caused by a deficiency in a type of white blood cell called phagocytes. These phagocyte cells are an essential part of the immune system, as they engulf foreign invaders contaminating the blood, a process known in the veterinary world as phagocytosis. A deficiency in phagocytosis caused by an infection or an abnormally low number of phagocyte cells present at birth can cause a feline to become especially susceptible to infections of the gastrointestinal and respiratory systems and infections of the skin.
The immune system is your cat’s defense against parasites, viruses, and bacteria of the outside world. When this line of defense is weak or becomes weakened, a feline is more susceptible to developing life-threatening illnesses.
Symptoms of Weak Immune System in Cats
A feline with a weak immune system is healthy overall for the first months of life, but as the feline stops nursing the supply of antibodies disappear and it becomes progressively susceptible to bodily infections. Noted symptoms of weakened immune system in cats include:
- Continuously becoming ill
- Recurrent infections or infections that fail to respond to conventional treatment
- Stunted growth
- Poor hair coat
- Symptoms related to the cause of weak immune system (feline parvovirus, feline leukemia virus or feline immunodeficiency virus)
- Symptoms caused by a contracted infection (bacterial, viral or parasitical)
Causes of Weak Immune System in Cats
A weak immune system can either be a congenital disorder that the cat was born with or the immune system can become weakened due to conditions that are known to attack the infection fighting white blood cells, phagocytes.
Congenital Weak Immune System in Cats
A cat born with an immunodeficiency disorder has an abnormally low number of phagocytes and will have difficulty fighting disease, leading to life-threatening situations. There is no cure for immunodeficiency disorder.
Viral Weak Immune System in Cats
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)
Feline immunodeficiency virus attacks the immune system, causing low red and white blood cell counts. Spread from one feline to another through biting, the cat may not show signs of the infection for months or even years after contracting the virus. FIV infects a cat for life, leading to a deteriorated immune system.
Feline leukemia virus (FeLV)
FeLV is a worldwide, retrovirus that despite use of vaccines, is still the number one cause of death among cats. FeLV severely suppresses the immune system, leading to conditions such as intestinal inflammation, reproductive disorders, immune-mediated disease, anemia and cancer.
Feline parvovirus (FPV)
Parvovirus is a severe immune-depressing, viral infection that usually infects a feline short-term. Parvovirus attacks the lymphocytes and neutrophils portion of the white blood cell population, making a feline susceptible to bacterial and fungal infections.
Diagnosis of Weak Immune System in Cats
The diagnosis of a weak immune system in your cat will begin with a review of your feline’s medical history. Your veterinarian will review his or her medical file, but any historical data you possess should be shared with the doctor to pinpoint when the problem began, symptoms, and possible causes. After the veterinarian exchanges notes with you, he or she may proceed to conduct the following:
- A physical examination
- Complete blood count (CBC): a test in which the number of blood cells in a single blood sample are counted to determine the total number of cells.
- Urinalysis: an examination of the urine.
- Biochemistry profile: a test that measures the components of blood, providing an overview of most bodily functions.
Additional diagnostic testing may be completed based on the findings of previous tests.
Treatment of Weak Immune System in Cats
Congenital weak immune system in cats has no treatment or cure, and viral associated weak immune system in cats is often not caught early enough to effectively treat the condition. Therefore, no effective treatment has been found to cure weak immune system in cats, but supportive care and prevention have been known to effectively lengthen a feline’s life.
Your veterinarian may provide treatment for secondary conditions that comes with congenital and viral related weak immune system conditions.
- Antibiotics to fight bacterial infections
- Antimicrobial medications to fight fungal/yeast infections
Recovery of Weak Immune System in Cats
The key to keeping your cat healthy when he or she has a weak immune system is prevention. Isolating your cat from other felines and animals, as well as preventing her from leaving the home is often the first rule of thumb when it comes to weak immune system management. Your veterinarian will advise you to be on the dot with vaccinations and may advise your cat to have additional vaccinations you may not usually ask for. As secondary infections are quite common in cats with depressed immune systems, you can expect your cat to visit the veterinarian often and go through various courses of prescribed medical treatment.
Veterinarians often advise breeders and owners of felines with known immune deficiency conditions to withhold from reproductive practices. Weak immune system conditions can be passed onto future generations if infected cats are allowed to breed.
Weak Immune System Questions and Advice from Veterinary Professionals
My cat was abandoned as a few days kitten when I found him crying for help.. thank god it was very easy for both of us to get pass through that tough time but I committed one mistake I didn’t know about its consequences.. Back then I drank him cows milk when he was just days old... one day later I took him to the vet and she told me that I did a mistake that cat at this age gain their immune defense system by drinking only their mother milk.. anyway he is on a healthy high quality cat only food since then.. but what happened when turned nine months old that he welcomed two cats in our new home when we moved to Egypt he just felt jealous and chooses to stay alone on top of the library for days... after one month we returned the cats to its owner when we found our cat is not getting along.. but what happened that he sort of missed them and the fights he always win with them.. and he looked depressed.. to give him some sort of enjoyment we took him outside to the garden down the flat we were living in for the first time.. and for his bad luck a dog used to live there and no one cleaned the place or give that dog a bath.. it was full but f insects around the corner which we weren’t aware of until a flea bits Antar in his face while he was exploring the garden.. and in few hour very bad symptoms starts to appear on him his furr fell down around the bite and it get swollen too much instantly we call on a vet and he came and gave Antar tow shots I don’t remember what was they exactly.. and write him an extern medication to apply directly on the effective area.. but that didn’t help the cat totally he didn’t recover fully and get very irritated skin to the point his furr fell down all over his upper body and get very itchy and flaky to the point he get to escape to the roof just to rub his body on the concrete and he even desperately throw himself into his litter box and curl around screaming from the pain.. he didn’t reach for his first year birthday yet and he was suffering so much... I consoled another vet and she did a blood and a skin tesue tests and stoped all kind of medications and told me he is on a very weak immune system due the depression in the first place and the bite which he wouldn’t recover from it if he wasn’t a tuff cat.. he was strong very active cat at first before the bite he spends hours playing and running around all the time and his favorite game was to catch throwing balls just like a goalkeeper.. and after the bite he is unnoticeable anymore he just eat a few bits and get back to sleep for almost a year that vet just gave him a food supplement and anti allergy oral medicine for that his skin turned to be very fragile.. and the years bassed very well not any kind of illness just he turned to a very less active cat he just play one jumb and go back to rest.. he like to imaginly hunt the birds from behind the window were they came to eat from seeds we put for them... And now after six years I recently noticed an enlarged lymph node on his left shoulder only and it’s very hard to touch, and he got some kind of insects flourishing on his furr I couldn’t know what was it kind but it wasn’t fleas I got rid of them by just give him a bath with a flea shampoo...but his skin get irritated like that first time but not that much just a few dark spots around his belly and some flaky dry skin areas on his back down to his tail... you can’t see it until the furr is fallen down along with the dry skin... and there is a new symptom that Antar is leaving a dark red spots under him when he sets for a while.. I’m willing to take him to the vet.. but I really want to know exactly what’s wrong with my cat before so I don’t repeat that vet mistake with giving him medication that took him in the wrong way of healing... I’m asking for guidance in what kind of examination should I held for him and where to start which symptoms is the most serious.. although he is not showing any kind of illness he just the way he is since he recovered from that first situation.... thanks and excuse my prolongation
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When my kitty Elsa came to live with me, shortly after she got a kitty cold. At the vet she got eye drops with antibiotics. I hoped the kitty colds weren’t a recurring thing that the vet said it might be. But when I took her on a flight for Christmas, she got a cold in FL. I got the same drops, but this one lasted a week so she got an antibiotic shot, she got better and that lasted for the flight back too. I recently took her to a friends house to live for 2 weeks while I was away on work. She got a small version of a cold and did not require vet assistance. This, however, gave the 3 other cats at my friend’s house kitty colds whom have never been sick. - does my cat get stressed with traveling or new environments? How can I help boost her immune system before traveling?
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hi my cat is 2 half year old about a year and a half ago i brought casper to the vet with a cough my vet was treating casper then she said he might have asthma to get a test done on him.i went to another vet who is brillant with casper and sayed it was trachealis and gave him a injection and a booster for his immune system because i tought he was always run down which worked very well plus the vet gave me a course of tables for him to.his mammy was a stray cat which she had 5 kitten which i took 2 kitten.coco fine but casper always being sick.so he in the vet now because his third eye half close over.the vet has him in for the last 3 days she said his immune very run down.i asked her to do test on him for aids in cats or cancer test im a very worried mammy could you please help me
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My kitten was given to me by the breeder before his second immunisation (I now know this should not have happened as this is a pedigree cat that should have remained with breeder for 13 weeks). I was unable to find a vet that offered the same brand of immunisation and so the advice was that I should restart his vaccines to ensure that he was fully protected.
I’ve since been told by the breeder that this will have ‘ruined his immune system’ which I don’t believe to be true but has got me concerned. Should I be doing something to help him rebuild this? Have I really done any damage? I’m quite concerned as this is my first pet and I don’t want to get it wrong.
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What’s wrong with my cat!?! I adopted two kittens in October and they had both been finishing meds for a kitty cold. A few days after adoption my cat Rick finished his meds and was okay until a month passed and he developed a rash on his paw that which was determined to come from “trauma” yet this same issue reoccurred three more times and varied in location (although all on his paws). Every time I’ve taken him to a vet they claim it’s trauma related but his last time the same rash began to occur I noticed it from the very start and there was no trauma. Due to this I switched the food to sensitive system and hypoallergenic litter in hopes of curing his issues. There has also been other small health issues. Twice he got bumps on his lips, the first time we determined it wa sbecause he was chewing on a basket which we removed from the house and then it healed but then another bump occurred on his lower lip right in the center. This bump on his lip and his most recent foot rash both occurred while he was taking antibiotics AND wearing a cone. He has basically lived in a cone for the last 6 months and I’m worried this is something more serious the vets seem to be passing over their heads. Now his meow has all of he sudden become lower and more hoarse than typical. It’s hard to tell if he’s feeling pain or discomfort because he’s an extremely happy kitty. Always talking and purring even when we are at the vet, this cat is like a child to me and the lack of concern expressed from the vets I’ve seeen have started to concern I may suddenly lose my cat over negligence.
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I had a cat that died 2 weeks ago. I took her to the vet and they did blood work. They said mentioned something was attacking her white blood cells. They put her on fluids and antibiotics but nothing helped. We had to put her to sleep. Now I have another cat with the same systems. He's lethargic, not eating or drinking and his eyes are starting to look sunk in. What do I do. I spent everything I had trying to save the first one.
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