What is FIV?
FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus, just as HIV stands for human immunodeficiency virus. In fact, these two viruses are closely related and much of the general information that has become common knowledge for HIV also holds true for FIV. FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats; however, there is a long period without symptoms before AIDS occurs. The average life expectancy from the time of diagnosis for FIV is 5 years. Humans cannot be infected with FIV; FIV is a cats-only infection.
How is Diagnosis Made?
Most of the time FIV infection is discovered using a screening test done in your veterinarian’s office or on a blood panel run at a reference laboratory. Nutmeg Clinic offers a combination FeLV/FIV test for a low cost. Once a screening test identifies a cat as positive, the next step is a follow-up confirming test called a Western Blot. Once this test is positive, the cat is considered to be truly infected.
How did my Cat get Infected?
The major route of virus transmission is by the deep bite wounds that occur during fighting. Mother cats cannot readily infect their kittens except in the initial stages of her infection. Casual contact such as sharing food bowls or snuggling is unlikely to transmit the virus.
Isolation of an FIV+ cat is not necessary in a stable household unless the FIV+ cat is likely to fight with the other residents.
What do I do Now?
Keep your Cat Indoors Only
Cats who are used to living outdoors will make a fuss about being allowed outside. It is crucial that you do not give in as this will simply reinforce the crying and fussing. If you just allow the fussing to run its course, it will cease and the cat will get used to the new indoor only life.
No Raw Foods
There are currently numerous fad diets involving raw foods for pets. It is crucial that one not succumb to these popular recommendations when it comes to the FIV+ cat. Uncooked foods, meats especially, can include parasites and pathogens that a cat with a normal immune system might be able to handle but an FIV+ cat might not. Stick to the major reputable cat food brands.
Vaccination should be continued for these cats just as they are for other cats.
The last thing an FIV+ cat needs is fleas, worms or mites, especially now that he is going to be an indoor cat. There are numerous effective products on the market for parasite control. Consult with your veterinarian about which parasites you should be concerned with and which anti-parasitic product is right for you.
While a non-geriatric FIV– cat should have an annual examination, discuss your pet's specific monitoring and health needs with your veterinarian. Also, it is important to be vigilant of any changes in the FIV+ cat. Small changes that you might not think would be significant in an FIV– cat should probably be thoroughly explored in an FIV+ cat.
THE FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS IS
NOT TRANSMISSIBLE TO HUMANS IN ANY WAY.