FIV In Cats: Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - My Experience
FIV in Cats in my Community
My Introduction to FIV in cats
I was aware of FIV from the inception of the rescue. It was something we were always supposed to test for in cats and kittens. Early on a mistake was made and a beautiful male was not tested. He was an older male with that huge head. He had not been neutered so he had a vet visit and I still don't know how the testing was missed. A wonderful loving couple adopted him and enjoyed him for 3 years when he suddenly became sick and had to be put down. It was cat FIV.
Transmission of FIV in Cats
FIV in cats is blood borne so a cat has to have a fight/bite from an infected cat to contract it. It is no wonder an outdoor un-neutered Tomcat would get it. We found the disease over and over with cats rescued from certain areas where there were a lot of un-neutered, un-spayed strays and outdoor pet cats. In other words it spread rapidly and was pervasive in areas with free roaming cats. One area was a cottage community. My tenant asked me and the rescue to take a mother cat and her kittens he had been feeding but who were strays. He wanted us to have them neutered and returned. Before the surgery, they tested and mother and all kittens had cat FIV and were put down as per the rescue and Humane Society's protocol at that time. Unfortunately, mother cats can pass the virus to their unborn kittens. This is the only way it can be transmitted outside of a cat fight. I don't think my tenant ever forgave me but that was the harsh reality of that neighborhood. Every time we rescued a stray from that cottage community, they had Feline immunodeficiency Virus. There was also a trailer park, where there were many outdoor cats and strays in a really dense area. Cat FIV was pervasive there also. According to the Winn Feline Foundation, 70% of cats who live outdoors or go outdoors now in 2013 have cat FIV.
Testing for FIV in cats
FIV in Cats and Reduced Immunity
Because FIV in cats slowly and progressively represses the immune system in the animal, the cat will be more susceptible to opportunistic infections. The first sign of that a cat has FIV virus can be fever, anemia or diarrhea. As its immunity is reduced, an FIV cat can be more likely to get pneumonia, diarrhea, skin conditions, sinus infections and eye problems than a healthy cat. But by keeping you cat isolated from other cats and indoors and by continuing good vet care, a cat with FIV is more likely to live a healthy long life. In addition, high quality food and an immune system booster like L-lysine can help.
Not Knowing if Kittens have FIV Cat
FIV in Cats and Life Span
The disease was only first discovered in Canada in 1986 according to the Winn Feline Foundation. So even moving into this century we knew little about the disease. It is related to HIV in humans but cannot be transmitted to any human or any other type of animal. Just like with human Aids when first discovered, there was nothing we knew to do. Over the years with FIV in cats, verterinary science learned that lives could be prolonged in cats with the virus. There is no way that the cat is never infectious and a danger to other cats nor is there a practical vaccine to protect other cats [scientist are trying to develop one]. However, a single household indoor cat with Feline Immunodeficiency can live a long and quality life.
Ongoing Deadly Disease
Sanctuary: Feline Leukemia
There are more and more sanctuaries where cats with Feline Leukemia can live out their usually short lives with good care. A good example is Purrfect Pals Arlington, WA.