Q: For the last year or so, my 3-year-old male cat has been getting into frequent fights with other cats, often resulting in wounds that need to be treated by the vet. We had him neutered at 8 months of age, but he still seems to get into fights. I was under the impression that getting him fixed would stop his fighting, but apparently this isn't so. Can you tell me why he still fights with other cats? Is there anything that I can do to stop him? He is becoming expensive to keep having treated for wounds.
Mrs. Linda Albrecht, Orange
A: Most cats fight over the invasion of their territory or over the affections of any available female. Since your cat has been altered, his fights are most likely the result of other cats invading his yard. Being a territorial animal, your cat will defend his turf from any invaders, regardless if he is neutered. To stop the fighting, you will need to keep the trespassers out of the yard or confine him indoors when there are a lot of cats wandering about. If you know that he is fighting with a certain cat, you should talk to its owner and see if some arrangement can be reached.
Wounds can become very serious if left untreated and can leave some permanent injuries or defects. Your cat also runs the increased risk of exposure to feline leukemia virus from being bitten by an infected cat. If it is impossible to stop the other cats from coming around, you may have to change your cat's life style and make him an indoor kitty.
Q: When my cat became ill last month, my vet did some blood tests on her that included a test for a feline AIDS virus (she was negative). When I asked him about the virus, he said that it was a new virus and that not too much was known about it. What can you tell me about this disease? Is it the same as the human AIDS virus?
Felicie Dolven, Irvine
A: The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) was first identified at the veterinary school at UC Davis in 1987. The virus has apparently been around for a number of years but had gone undetected by available lab tests at that time. Symptoms include loss of appetite, respiratory problems, sneezing, gum or dental disorders, periodic fevers, and anemia, all of which can be associated with many other diseases. FIV is believed to be spread through cat bites, although sexual contact and transmission from queen to kittens is also thought possible. The virus suppresses the cat's own immune system and makes it very susceptible to common diseases. Still, many cats that test positive live for five years or more with no clinical signs of the disease. There is currently no vaccine for prevention nor any cure for the disease if it develops. The virus is not transmitted to humans any more than human AIDS can be transmitted to cats.
Got a question about your pet? Write to: Dr. Glenn Ericson, Ask the Vet, Orange County Life, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, Calif. 92626.