Find out the Facts
on Feline Immune
Deficiency Virus (FIV)
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Learning about FIV
Feline Immune Deficiency Virus is a devastating disease that
acts to suppress the immune system, so allowing for viruses
and diseases to attack your cat and further weaken it. There
are medicines, vaccinations and help for a cat that is
struck by FIV.
In the United States it is estimated that two percent of the
cat population has FIV. You may ask yourself how your cat
got FIV and how it is going to affect your cat and you. The
primary way this disease is spread is through blood and
saliva. It is suspected that most cats transmit the disease
through biting, but it has been suggested that it may be
transmitted through cleaning an infected cat, drinking from
an infected cat's water bowl or eating an infected cat's
This disease seems to mostly affect cats that are outdoor
cats or cats that are allowed outdoors. In fact, one of the
best ways to prevent your cat from coming down with Feline
Immune Deficiency Virus is to never allow your cat to go
outside. FIV can be transmitted from the mother cat (Queen)
to kittens, but not all kittens that have FIV contracted it
Diagnosing Feline Immune Deficiency Virus is not nearly as
easy as diagnosing some other cat disorders. If your cat
gets sick often then it might be a good idea to have it
checked for FIV. If your cat's white cell count is very low
and keeps dropping then FIV may be the contributing factor.
The first test for FIV is the ELISA test that looks for
Feline Immune Deficiency Virus antibodies and FeLV. If your
cat comes up positive a second test will be conducted to
confirm or rule out FIV.
But this test is not effective on kittens before the age of
six months because false positives from the queen can throw
off the results. This is because of antibodies passed to the
kitten from the infected mother cat.
If your cat tests positive for Feline Immune Deficiency
Virus it doesn't necessarily mean that you cat is going to
die. Just like when a person tests positive for HIV it
doesn't mean they are going to die right away either. A cat
with FIV can live a relatively normal life with a good high
protein diet and early, effective, aggressive treatment of
any sickness that your cat contracts. If your cat has been
diagnosed with FIV and you notice anything out of the
ordinary with its health you should take your cat to the
veterinarian and get the problem treated. This is mandatory
if you want your cat to live.
When a cat has Feline Immune Deficiency Virus something as
simple as a minor cold, if left untreated, can quickly turn
to pneumonia and other conditions. A slight drop in the
immune system from a cold in a regular cat is fine and the
cat will get over it with regular treatment. The chances are
that a cat with FIV that contracts a cold will get sicker
very quickly if not treated right away.
If FIV is caught early a cat can lead a normal life with the
help of your veterinarian, adjustments to your cat's diet,
supplements and quick treatment of any health issues that
may come up. This includes pest control because fleas often
transmit viruses and parasites to cats.
With a cat that is in late stage FIV treatments will vary.
You will have to deal with all of the above changes with
your cat plus medications and treatments for the FIV.
FIV doesn't mean death; it just means a life that is managed
more thoroughly. They now have a vaccine for FIV but it is
still new and has many associated problems and side effects.
For cats that have a high risk of contracting FIV it is
recommended that the cat be vaccinated. For now it is
recommended that you prevent FIV, rather than vaccinate
against it, by not allowing your cat to go outdoors or come
into contact with strange cats.
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