Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

by catfood

A lethal illness syndrome in cats caused by the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is comparable to HIV infections in people.

Because of this, it is frequently referred to as “cat AIDS,” but it is important to remember that neither humans nor other animals can contract it. The prevalence of FIV-positive cats is estimated to be between 1.5 and 3 percent worldwide among healthy cats. Cats can be FIV positive for years without exhibiting any symptoms of a clinical illness, similar to AIDS.

Fortunately, it is not as widespread or contagious as the feline leukemia virus. Although there is currently no treatment for it, this does not automatically warrant euthanizing animals in shelters. If certain safeguards could be taken, suitable adoptive homes might be identified, and they could be safely held in the shelter until they were rehomed.



The retrovirus (lentivirus) that causes FIV is similar to HIV in that it impairs the immune system’s capacity to fight off infection. This is good news for shelters who choose to house FIV positive cats because the virus does not last in the environment outside of the cat’s body for more than a few hours and is easily killed by most disinfectants.


It is mainly spread by bite wounds and is far more prevalent in intact male cats, who are more inclined to engage in combat. It is thought that casual cat-to-cat transmission is uncommon. Mothers may also pass it on to their kittens. As previously mentioned, the virus can be found in blood, saliva, and cerebrospinal fluid; however, it is weak and does not last very long outside the body.

Because of this, it is possible to safely house cats separately without putting the lives of other cats at the shelter in jeopardy. Furthermore, as long as practical cleaning precautions are maintained, there is no justification for advising a waiting time before adopting a cat into a household that has previously hosted a feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) positive cat.


Viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other pathogenic organisms can cause serious sickness because the virus impairs the immune system’s capacity to fight disease. Because of the stress of shelter life and the greater exposure to infectious agents, FIV positive cats housed in shelters are more likely to develop other diseases.


Viruses, bacteria, protozoa, and other pathogenic organisms can cause serious sickness because the virus impairs the immune system’s capacity to fight disease. Because of the stress of shelter life and the greater exposure to infectious agents, FIV positive cats housed in shelters are more likely to develop other diseases.

Diagnostic Testing

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) suggests determining each cat’s FIV status. On their website, www.aafponline.org, you may find comprehensive information about test methods, interpretation, and advice for caring for FIV positive cats.

They advise keeping in mind that no test is always and under all circumstances 100% accurate and that a confirmed positive test result indicates retrovirus infection rather than clinical illness. No healthy cat should be put to death because of the results of a single positive test, despite the fact that these recommendations were not established particularly for shelters. Additional factors:

  • Contrary to the feline leukemia test, which searches for the presence of the virus, the screening test for FIV frequently used in shelters is an ELISA test that finds the presence of antibodies to the virus (antigen). A FeLV/FIV combo testing kit is available.
  • Queens and each puppy in a litter should be checked separately.
  • Any healthy cat who tests positive needs to have a Western Blot test, which is regarded as a confirming, performed again.
  • When kittens are tested before the age of six months, the results may actually be falsely positive until the mother’s antibodies have been removed from their bodies, which happens at about the six-month mark. This is because infected mother cats can carry their antibodies to their kittens. Therefore, FIV testing that is performed before 6 months of age should be repeated at 60 day intervals in case a positive result is achieved, in contrast to the feline leukemia test that can be performed at any age.
  • It is wise to wait at least 60 days before testing susceptible cats because it may take 8–12 weeks for the body to produce measurable levels of antibodies following a FIV exposure.
  • Even though the cat has the disease, severely disabled cats may not be able to develop any antibodies, which would also result in a negative test result.

Remember that once a cat is infected, the virus is rarely, if ever, removed.


Treatment and Management

FIV cannot be cured, and therapy in a shelter setting is not advised.

Administration in shelters

Several precautions should be followed both in the shelter and in the new home if it is decided to house or adopt FIV positive cats. Cat bites are the primary method of transmission, hence cats should be housed separately or in peaceful colonies with no fighting. They shouldn’t live with cats who have the FeLV virus. Additional sanitation precautions should be taken, including more frequent hand washing and disinfection. Staff members should wear disposable aprons and use disposable rags, towels, and other cleaning supplies when cleaning areas where these animals are housed. Stress needs to be reduced.


Advice for adopters

Adopters need to have all the information they need regarding FIV and the dangers the infection may present to other cats living in the home. Adopters must be informed that FIV-positive cats should be kept indoors, both to stop the disease from spreading and interaction with other animals who might be sick. Healthy FIV positive cats should be spayed, dewormed, and given the core vaccines (FVRCP and Rabies). Hunting, raw foods, or unpasteurized milk should be avoided, and they must be offered a nutritionally adequate feline diet.

Schedule regular semi-annual visits to the vet, paying close attention to your pet’s oral health. Immediately notify the veterinarian of any illnesses or irregularities, keeping in mind that a longer-than-expected time may pass before the treatment takes effect. Additionally, it could be advised for the adopter to weigh the cat frequently because weight loss could be one of the earliest indicators of a problem.

A fresh FIV vaccination is now accessible. Unfortunately, it prevents the testing for diseases and is not advised for usage in shelters. However, if used, cats should be tested beforehand, and those who test positive should not receive the vaccine.

Wondering about Feline Infectious Peritonitis? Check it out on our lastest post!

By catfoodsite.com

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