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Reprinted with permission from the Feline Friends website

What is "FIV"?

FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (also referred to as "Feline Aids"), is often confused with FeLV (Feline Leukemia Virus) or FIP (Feline Infectious Peritonitis). FIV is a virus that has been around for centuries of time, and been passed through both wild and domestic breeds of cats. So having a diagnosis of FIV positive for your cat is most often not considered as life-threatening as an FeLV-positive or FIP-positive diagnosis. The more you know, the better care you can provide to your cat.

Can I catch it from my cats?

No. You cannot catch FIV from your cat. FIV is not transmissible to humans.

What if I snuggle with my infected cat and then pet another cat, will I give it to that cat?

No. FIV is only transmissible through cat bites or blood transfusions with another cat. You cannot "spread" FIV with you throughout your day.

Can my cat give it to my dog?

No. FIV is strictly in felines. Your cat cannot give FIV to your dog, horse, ferret...

Can I be a carrier?

No. Humans cannot be carriers for FIV.

Can my infected cat give it to my other cat(s)?

Yes, but only if your infected cat bites another of your cats. He can't infect your other cat(s) by sharing food bowls or sharing litter boxes or playing or sleeping together.

How long does my cat have to live?

 If you keep your cat strictly indoors and in a healthy environment (i.e. away from any sick cats) he/she can still live a happy long life. A cat could be able to reach 10-12 or older if he or she is regularly vet checked and maintains a quality diet.

Is there a cure?

No. There is no cure for this virus.

Do false positives occur? Yes.

False positives do occur especially in heavily vaccinated cats. Have your cat tested again with another type of test -- an indirect immunofluorescent antibody assay (IFA); or Western blotting. These rarely give a false positive reading when properly conducted.

How long after a cat has been bitten by an infected cat will test results be accurate?

It appears initial signs of infection usually show up around four weeks after infection.

Is the FIV only transmitted through contact with the infected blood? No. The FIV seems to be transmitted predominantly by bites since the virus is shed in the saliva of the infected cat. However, the virus must then directly enter the bloodstream, which is why it cannot be transmitted by just casual, everyday contact.

Does the uninfected cat also have to bite the infected cat to get the virus? No. The bite can be one-way.

Can a cat contract FIV from a dental cleaning at the vet's?

Highly improbable. Instruments are always cleaned or replaced between dental cleanings regardless of the animal's health.

Is there an FIV equivalent for dogs?

To our knowledge, there is not an Immunodeficiency virus equivalent for dogs. We have only heard of FIV (feline), HIV (human), SIV (simian), and BIV (bovine).

Should an FIV positive cat still be given vaccinations?

Yes, your cat should still be vaccinated though FIV+. The reasons are twofold. One: your cat is now more susceptible to these diseases and does not have the luxury of the vaccinations guarding him as well or as long as a healthy cat. Usually, there is an "overlap" with the booster shots so that the cat is always protected but in the case of FIV+ cats the boosters don't last as long in their systems, ergo, they are open to the diseases sooner. For this reason you should have your FIV+ cat vaccinated regularly (on time). They WILL offer him protection from these diseases. Two: There is a rabies quarantine in effect. You must have your cat vaccinated against rabies, regardless of FIV status. We don't want a rabies outbreak.

Copyright © 1996 Jennifer Lynne Might

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