Twizzle is a handsome white-and-black cat with an attractive face but he has FIV – the cat version of human AIDS which has blunted his chances of being adopted even though FIV cats lead normal lives of a similar length to other cats. There is an argument that cat lovers should avoid equating FIV with human AIDS as it scares people off. That said, nowadays, AIDS does not carry the same fear factor it seems to me. Two men have been cured of it.
The average stay at Battersea Dogs and Cats Home for a cat is 23 days. The only reason for Twizzle’s lack of success in adoption is his illness.
FIV is contagious cat-to-cat but not to humans (not zoonotic). In the USA it is believed that 2-4% of cats are affected.
The key point to make about the transmission of this disease is that:
‘contact is not a major mode of transmission. There is no evidence that the disease is transmitted by mating….bites during fights among toms are a source of virus transmission, especially as the virus is shed in saliva’.
If a person is adopting a single cat for the first time, Twizzle would be a good pet provided he was well cared for (Battersea will advise). He’d live a near normal life and have a near normal lifespan so he should be adopted. I worked out that the lifespan of a FIV positive cat is around 2 years less on average than that of healthy cats.
If cats with FIV are well cared for, they live long, normal healthy lives. – Jane (Everycat)
Many studies indicate that FIV+ cats live as long as FIV- cats. And…FIV itself does not cause severe clinical signs and FIV infected cats live many years without health problems. (Hartman, Veterinary Immunology and Immunopathology 2011)
In multi-cat households the situation is obviously different because of possible fights but transmission is relatively (relative to other diseases such as herpes virus) difficult.
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