Cats with FIV can live long, normal lives. They should be cared for with that in mind.
This is an additional article on FIV, commonly referred to as “Feline Aids”. The original, technical, article is here. Jane (Everycat) makes the important point in a comment that the word “AIDS” carries unfair connotations for cats due to ignorance of what it really means. She recommends that the disease is not called “Feline Aids” but FIV (full name: Feline immunodeficiency virus).
The purpose of this post is to spread the word that cats with FIV have a life and a value. They should be treated with respect and cared for. Jane says that the unneutered male stray cat with FIV and other diseases is the cat that tends to promote the idea that FIV is dangerous and a killer. These cats do not represent most FIV cats. All FIV cats are different. It is wrong to assume that all FIV cats are very ill and have no quality of life.
Jane says this:
Would it be possible to amend this article with some up to date information about transmission of FIV and to avoid using the term “Feline AIDS”
Glasgow University Vet School have some definitive research on the subject.
Catwork Sanctuary have long provided reliable and sensible information on this virus and how to successfully manage cats who have the virus.
Use of the term “Feline AIDS” does nothing but cause hysteria and keep people ignorant of the true nature of this virus. The FAIDS part is only relevant when a cat reaches the terminal stage of the condition and has full immune system collapse.
Often people use the term Feline AIDS because they assume that everyone knows what AIDS is because of HIV. Unfortunately, most people are hugely ignorant about HIV too. Thousands of healthy cats are needlessly killed every year by vets and rescues (including RSPCA and Cats Protection) due to profound ignorance about the virus.
If you tracked 1000 cats with FIV, 1000 cats without the virus and 1000 cats of unknown status, and determined what killed them, you would be unable to see any difference between the groups in what carried them off this mortal coil.
If cats with FIV are well cared for, they live long, normal healthy lives.
Please contact Catwork, they will give you some really accurate information about this virus.
How to successfully manage cats who have the virus
FIV reduces a cat’s immune system slowly allowing other infections to take hold. A properly cared for FIV cat can have a normal lifespan. It is important that the best possible care is provided which means:
- best quality cat food
- excellent parasite control
- keeping them indoors
- providing a calm, low stress environment2.
- acknowledging the ways transmission takes place and taking preventative action.
Up-to-date information about transmission of FIV
FIV cannot be transmitted to people. FIV can be transmitted between cats. It usually happens through bites. The virus is in the saliva and “injected” into the blood. Bites occur when cats fight. Fights between cats, due to territorial disputes, mating and over food, can be greatly reduced when the cats:
- are sterilised and
- provided with good quality food1.
There is no evidence that the disease is transmitted through mating. A queen can rarely pass on the infection to her unborn kittens2. FIV is not transmitted through shared eating bowls or mutual grooming (allogrooming). This is because1:
- The virus has a short life outside the cat. This prevents transmission other than through biting.
- Also the mucous membrane is a barrier to the virus. This prevents transmission via the mouth.
FIV cats can live communally. It is not an automatic requirement that they be separated. Vets may recommend that FIV cats are separated2. Jane correctly disagrees because in a well managed mutlicat household cats don’t fight and bite. It is about management and new cats being introduced with care. Cats in multicat households should be tested.
In the USA there is a vaccine but it is not generally recommended. Vaccinations against the other disease to which a FIV cat is vulnerable seem like a good idea but may be counterproductive because of the strain placed on the cat’s immune system by the vaccine.
- Catwork (v63.net). Jane’s site.
- Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook page 94