FIV is a virus that causes AIDS in cats
by Barbara George
Tellington Ttouch Behaviourist
This a high-level article aimed at making the readers aware that there is more to FIV and Feline AIDS than is commonly available. Each cat and each situation is different, consult and work with your vet for the best option for your family.
The presence of the FIV virus in cats does not mean an automatic death sentence. It can be dormant or slow-growing; and can take months or years to develop into Feline AIDS. Cats that have received an FIV/Feline AIDS vaccination may show a false positive when tested. Kittens under 14 weeks may still carry anti-bodies from their mother but actually not have the virus.
Feline AIDS impacts the immune system; while it does not kill cats directly it affects the ability to deal with any other illness or disease. Cats die from the secondary infection.
The virus is not easily transmitted between cats. The main form of infection is from deep wounds from fighting. Even then, it is not guaranteed that a cat bitten by an FIV+ cat will develop the virus as the virus has to infect the blood. The virus does not survive for long in air; there have been no confirmed cases of casual transmission – allo-grooming and eating from the same bowls – between cats.
Currently there is no cure for FIV or Feline AIDS. Secondary infections should be addressed as early as possible. Twice-yearly checkups are recommended to track any non-visual illness that may have developed.
A good, appropriate diet that helps to support the immune system is recommended. Consult your vet, veterinary nutritionist, or veterinary holistic practitioner for the best option for your cat.
It is also necessary to protect your cat, and other cats, from bites during fighting, to prevent further transmission. Cat-proofing your garden and home, or building a catio, makes it safe for all cats.
FIV+ cats can live with non-FIV+ cats provided they do not fight.
FIV and Feline AIDS are restricted to cats; the virus cannot be transmitted to any other species, neither can human HIV or AIDS be transmitted to cats.
And finally, since FIV and Feline AIDS are relatively new in veterinary terms, not all vets have the in-depth knowledge to assist and support you and your cats. If this is the case, please find a new vet that can help you.
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