Weak Immune System due to Hereditary Disorder in Cats


PetMD Editorial

Published Mar. 27, 2010

Primary Immunodeficiency Disorders in Cats

The term immune system is used to denote the collection of biological processes that take part in an effort to protect the body against disease by timely identifying and killing the invading pathogens and tumor cells. It works on a regular basis in order to guard the body against invading organisms and infections such as bacteria, viruses, and parasites.


Primary immunodeficiency disorders involve poor or weak immune system responses when required. These disorders are seen due to any defect(s) in immune system related to some heritable disease. On the contrary, secondary immunodeficiency disorders are seen due to some other primary disease.


Few kittens may have congenital problems related to immune system.


Symptoms and Types


  • Prone to recurrent infections and failed response to conventional antibiotic therapies
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite (anorexia)
  • Various skin infections
  • Poor growth (hallmark)
  • Post vaccination diseases
  • Other symptoms related to infections




Immunodeficiency disorders are a congenital disorder; i.e., cats are born with them.




You will need to give a thorough history of your cat’s health, including the onset and nature of the symptoms, to your veterinarian. He or she will then conduct a complete physical examination, as well as a biochemistry profile, urinalysis, and complete blood count (CBC) -- the results of which may reveal various cell abnormalities or clues for infections. More specific tests are available for a more detailed evaluation of the immune system, and may be employed by the veterinarian with your consent. For example, he or she may take a bone marrow sample from your cat for evaluation.



Unfortunately, no cure is available for congenital problems with the immune system. In cases of severe disease, hospitalization may be required to stabilize your cat. In the case of mild problems, your cat can be taken home after therapy.


Prevention of infection is the key factor for keeping your cat healthy, and good management practices are required to prevent exposure to infections. In cases of infection, your veterinarian will give an antibiotic cover to treat infection; it may take a few days to a few weeks for a complete resolution of infections. Delay in recovery is due to poor immune system support in treating infections, and prolonged antibiotic cover is usually required.


Living and Management


Prognosis largely depends upon the nature and extent of the problem. However, the animal cannot be complete “cured.” You should discuss the issue of hereditary diseases with your cat’s veterinarian and how these should be prevented in future litters.


In some cats, complete rest may be advised to prevent further complications. Diet is another important factor to meet for your cat’s daily nutritional requirements. Exposure to infection should be minimized in those animals prone to infections due to some hereditary problem.

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