FIV+ cat with voluminous excretions - help!
April 6, 2021 5:51 PM   Subscribe

Lady Gefilte and I have been fostering a wee FIV+ feline fuzzball from our local humane society. He came to us about 3 months ago with a florid upper respiratory infection and ongoing diarrhea. Fast forward until today, and not a whole lot has changed in terms of the various bodily fluids he's ejecting on a daily basis. Is this normal for him? Has anyone had a similar situation?

Sheldon is a very sweet little fellow, and insanely playful, but his medical issues are holding up his adoption. (Sadly we can't keep him because our other cat is a super aggressive monster.) He's had multiple rounds of antibiotics and steroids for both his respiratory infection and the diarrhea, and is now on his 4th round of metronidazole and probiotics. In the three months that he's been with us, he's had one day of solid feces, the rest have all been soft and mushy, though not completely liquid. He still sneezes frequently and the size of the bloody boogers that he produces is awe-inspiring. On the plus side, he's gaining weight well, has tons of energy, and is generally inquisitive and endearing.

Has anyone else dealt with FIV+ cats who have similar symptoms? We've seen lots of FIV+ cats who seem to be completely asymptomatic without any sign of chronic infection. Do some cats just have chronic effluvium from both ends? We're not getting a straight answer from the shelter vet, who just suggests more metronidazole all the time (perhaps because it's the cheapest remedy?) We'd love to find him a proper home where he can flourish but it's going to be tough to adopt a cat in his condition!

Any input would be helpful.
posted by greatgefilte to Pets & Animals (12 answers total)
Not FIV+ (sorry) but I had a foster cat with diarrhea and we put him on a special food- R/D something? It looks like it is prescription. It was orange and made his poop orange but it cleared up his bowel issues. Your vet should have more info hopefully but the way it was explained to me it was made to move slower through his body and bulk up his stool. Regardless, might help to switch to a higher fiber food even if my vague recollections of this food are not helpful. Good luck, and thanks for fostering.
posted by clarinet at 6:29 PM on April 6

Thanks! We tried some special digestive food but it hasn't seemed to have made much of a difference. :(
posted by greatgefilte at 6:39 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

Do some cats just have chronic effluvium from both ends?

Is this a kitten? Because some kittens definitely do, and it's not necessarily related to the FIV+. I've seen this when I was taming feral kittens, some of them just seemed to have diarrhea even after multiple rounds of deworming and fortiflora and etc. One thing that seemed to help was feeding them dry Meow Mix, which goes against everything I've ever heard. It did eventually go away, but we never figured out what caused it or stopped it.
posted by Violet Hour at 6:49 PM on April 6

My FIV+ cat gets Fortiflora every once in awhile when his poops get soft. The biggest change I saw was switching him to Royal Canin cat food, almost all his problems have cleared up since then. Unfortunately RC is having an extreme shortage right now so maybe try another kitten or baby cat formula?
posted by fiercekitten at 8:38 PM on April 6

Our feral kitten’s diarrhea ended up being an allergy to chicken. Which of course she loves. Royal canin and science diet didn’t work, either. What does work is mono protein fish or lamb based kibble, and mono protein wet food. You’ll end up reading kitty food ingredient lists, because the cheapo food adds in a lot of chicken byproducts to even the tuna purées.
posted by romakimmy at 10:42 PM on April 6 [1 favorite]

My (non-FIV+) cat appears to get seasonal allergies around the same time of year I do. He starts sneezing these horrible ropes of -- well, you know. When he was a kitten and those three months had been his whole life, we did a couple of rounds of antibiotics which didn't do anything except give him diarrhea, and also did some lysine paste supplements in his food to supposedly help fight the feline herpesvirus (maybe helped?) He's also needed some amount of supplementing his wet food with dry, even when he was a kitten, to avoid the runs.
posted by Lady Li at 12:24 AM on April 7

I am not a vet, and all of my knowledge comes from watching Bondi vet and Google searches. ;)

With that said, no, that is NOT normal for a cat PERIOD. As many pointed out, this may be an allergy, or worse. It could be compounded by incompatible gut biome, which is made worse by antibiotics (which tries to reset the gut biome). IMHO, you may want to get a second vet opinion.

Was the kitty dewormed and such properly? Generally HS does a great job giving the initial treatment. Did the kitty get some blood work beyond being diagnosed FIV+?
posted by kschang at 2:39 AM on April 7

i do not have FIV+ experience but i have kitten experience. and in that experience soft/loose poops were very much a kitten thing. they started to solidify a few months after he was with us, so he was about 6-8 months old.

the BLOODY boogers is concerning. if this was your cat i would say take him to a different vet for another opinion. however, since you are fostering, you are likely stuck with the shelter/rescue vet unless you want to pay to take him somewhere else.

perhaps you could take...samples...of the poo and snot for testing to get better answers about what meds to try?

also i would like to see a picture of sheldon please :)
posted by misanthropicsarah at 6:52 AM on April 7

Thanks for all the suggestions! As Sheldon (aka Sheldon Boogerman, MD) is probably about a year old, not sure the kitten-specific stuff will help but we will definitely try some single-source protein food and check with the shelter about getting a 2nd vet opinion. And, here's the photo as requested!
posted by greatgefilte at 5:48 PM on April 7 [1 favorite]

A few more.
posted by greatgefilte at 5:54 PM on April 7

I'd also suggest talking to the vet about deworming with something like Pancur over a longer period of time and adding a probiotic to the diet. That has helped with my fosters.
posted by answergrape at 9:30 AM on April 8

Poo-poo update: We switched to a salmon/potato kibble with no chicken or grain and the diarrhea has magically cleared up. That said, he's also still on high dose metronidazole and prednisolone but this is the first and only time he's had consistently non-diarrheal feces despite being on these meds in the past.

I think we will finish the meds, and do a wee challenge with the old food to see if the diarrhea is replicated, and resolved with going back to the new food. SCIENCE!
posted by greatgefilte at 8:44 AM on April 10 [1 favorite]

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