FIV In Cats & Kittens
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a retrovirus spefcific to cats that affects feline's immune system and leaves cats succeptible to disease, cancers and infections. It is in the same family as Feline Leukemia.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Hi Simba, My 6-year-old male cat has been diagnosed with FIV. He is doing fine otherwise. Can you explain the disease and are there any health concerns to my kids or my dog? Thanks Allison
As the name implies, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a retrovirus that adversely affects feline's immune system and leaves kitties more succeptible to disease, cancers and infections. It is in the same family as Feline Leukemia. Note that retroviruses are species-specific, meaning that a feline retrovirus like FIV will infect cats only.
There is no evidence available that cats can transmit FIV to any other species. Also, the retrovirus is fragile and can be easily killed or inactivated by ultraviolet light, heat, detergents and drying.
Unlike Feline Leukemia, FIV is not transmitted simply through close contact. FIV is instead shed in the saliva and is transmitted when a cat bites another cat or through another exchange of bodily fluids. Naturally, outdoor or free-roaming cats are much more susceptible to infection! Because there is no FIV vaccine available, the best way to keep a cat from getting FIV is to keep him indoors and away from infected cats.
What does FIV do?
How do you treat an FIV-infected kitty?
When should you test for FIV?
The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) and the Academy of Feline Medicine have developed guidelines for FIV testing. Basically, you should test your cat if:
Caring for an FIV Cat
My 7-year-old male cat has been diagnosed with FIV. He was a stray we have had now for about 3 years. He roams in and outside as he pleases. We also have 4 other cats. They are all de-clawed and do not go outside. What are the risks of this and how do we protect the other 4 cats? Wanda
The first thing you might want to do is have your kitty re-tested. FIV is tricky, in that many times tests for it show false positives.
Because FIV is transmitted through cat to cat exchanges of bodily fluids, you should keep your indoor cats away from the FIV kitty. This is especially important given that there are no vaccines for FIV.
Your indoor/outdoor can live for a couple of years, even if he re-test positive, so do not rush off and have him put to sleep. Continue to care for him and love him as you do. You might also want to consider limiting his roaming area so as to keep him from infecting other cats. Keep me posted. Simba