FIV cats colloidal silver (2022)

Reviewing the page January 2022: Please read everything below the line on this page in the light of this long introduction which is an updating and amending section for this article on treating FIV cats with colloidal silver. The text below the line below was written about 12 years ago.

Colloidal silver for pets
Colloidal silver for pets. Photo: Product shot in public domain.

THERE ARE SOME PAGES ON HOME TREATMENTS OF VARIOUS KINDS AT THE BASE OF THE PAGE.

What is colloidal silver?

Colloidal silver consists of tiny silver particles in a liquid. My research indicates that it is both antibacterial and antiviral. So, in essence there is some supporting science that it might help in treating viral infections at least theoretically. However, the National Centre for Complementary and Integrative Health in their online website states that “evidence supporting health-related claims [on using colloidal silver as a treatment] is lacking. In fact, colloidal silver can be dangerous to your health”. They are referring to using as a treatment for people. Note: according to a study, and on my understanding, colloidal silver is the same as nano silver (nanosilver). If you read an article about nano silver the same conclusions can be drawn about colloidal silver it seems to me. If you disagree with that then please tell me in a comment.

And the FDA (America’s Food and Drug Administration) warned, in 1999, that colloidal silver isn’t safe or an effective treatment for “any disease or condition”. Therefore, you should watch out for claims about colloidal silver. In treating people, it can cause a condition called argyria, a bluish-grey discolouration of the skin. It is a buildup of silver in the body’s tissue.

The Mayo Clinic in America says that “supplements containing colloidal silver aren’t considered safe or effective for any of the health claims manufacturers make”. Manufacturers often claim that colonial silver boosts the immune system (an important aspect of FIV cat care) but there been no sound scientific studies evaluating these claims published in reputable medical journals.

Reviewing this page 2022

I felt it necessary to review and refresh this page about 12 years after it was written. The reason? To gauge current thinking about treating FIV cats with colloidal silver. Cat owners need to be careful when researching this kind of information. A lot of it can be anecdotal. That does not mean it’s bad. It just means that you need to thoroughly research the matter as I am doing right now.

FIV cats can live long lives

FIV cats can live long and happy lives. The FIV virus attacks the cat’s immune system and therefore immune support is an aspect of their care. It’s a question of supporting a compromised immune system. There are various ways of doing this including: minimising vaccinations, not using chemical flea and tick prevention treatments, using quality supplements to boost the immune system such as antioxidants and probiotics and providing high quality food. Reducing stress is also important. It’s quite easy to stress a cat as they are wedded to their routines.

Anecdotal reports

There are some optimistic comments on the consciouscat.net website about treating FIV cats with colloidal silver. Tanya Dixon wrote: “The big one also for us is colloidal silver in all drinking bowls. That’s been a game changer also, best natural antibiotic and blood cleanup.”

Scientific reports – studies? – science behind this?

However, Google Scholar, which lists probably millions of scientific studies does not have any scientific tests on treating FIV cats with colloidal silver. That I think is quite important. If colloidal silver was considered useful across a wide spectrum of cat owners you would have thought that scientists would have tested it. Although, below, you will see reference to a study about colloidal silver being used to treat Covid in people, at least potentially.

It is said (you can see that I’m being cautious) that silver is a well-documented anti-microbial. It has been shown to kill bacteria, fungi and certain viruses. Apparently, the positively charged silver ions have the anti-microbial effect.

The science.org website (it’s nice to inject a bit of science into this) tells us that silver in medicine dates back thousands of years and that it is a potent antibacterial agent. Incidentally, the word “microbial” means a microorganism or very small lifeform especially a bacterium that causes disease. So, the word anti-microbial is compatible with antibiotic.

It was found that bacteria killed by silver make them deadly to other bacteria. Reservoirs of silver nanoparticles build up in the dead bacteria. The dead bacteria act like sponges. So, silver can kill bacteria. But FIV is caused by a virus, an entirely different organism. Does silver kill viruses? That is the $64,000 question.

We can move forward to the Covid pandemic to look at a study published online 2020, September 11. That study entitled: Potent antiviral effect of silver nanoparticles on SARS-CoV-2, states that “silver nanoparticles have been studied to possess antiviral properties”. They concluded that silver nanoparticles (AgNPs) “are a highly potent microbicides against SARS-CoV-2 [the Covid virus] but should be used with caution due to their cytotoxic effects and their potential to do range environmental ecosystems when improperly disposed”.

That study confirms that silver has antiviral properties.

My conclusion as at 2022

I have to conclude that colloidal silver as a treatment for FIV in cats carries too much risk without hard evidence of benefit to be a recommended treatment. I wouldn’t do it. There is simply not enough science to support it as an effective treatment and there are dangers.


Everything below was written about 12 years ago when we knew less about colloidal silver as a treatment and I knew less about colloidal silver as a treatment. I take responsibility myself. Although I was cautious then I am more cautious now about this treatment today.

Today, the strides in FIV cats colloidal silver treatment are slowly becoming an increasingly known possibility for combating the scary health threat that places infected cats at a disadvantage to their healthy counterparts. Throughout the world, FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) is a reality and within the United States, between 1 ½ % and 3% of cats are infected with the disease.

Using Colloidal Silver to Treat FIV-Infected Cats

In FIV cats, colloidal silver has shown promise in animal studies and pet owner testimonials where a colloid of silver particles in water is administered to felines in order to take advantage of its anti-microbial properties. In the past, colloidal silver was used to treat external wounds and burns in an effort to avoid infection. With FIV cats, colloidal silver is especially productive in combating eye problems and open wounds.

Research conducted in Mexico on colloidal silver and FIV cats involved the anesthetization of infected cat subjects. They had a silicone rubber catheter containing a silver wire inserted into their jugular vein with a cathode attached to the skin on the chest. In addition to tracking silver levels in the blood, results revealed that a treated cat began eating better by the second post-treatment day and within four weeks, many sores on its back and ears disappeared.

It has been reported that some owners, who have used colloidal silver to treat eye problems in their cats have been pleased, as in a matter of days – swelling, infection, seeping pus, and unpleasant odors were successfully treated. One testimonial states that colloidal silver was able to fight a powerful infection instead of resorting to surgery for the removal of an infected eye. Overall, in FIV cats, colloidal silver is a secret slowly spreading amongst pet owners, which is quite effective in treating ocular (eye) issues and infection.

Caveat

I’d think that you will find that there is little or no hard science supporting the effectiveness of colloidal silver as a medical treatment despite the fact that it is quite widely used and advertised as a supplement or homeopathic remedy. In the USA, the FDA has not approved it. Personally I would consider it a last resort treatment.

With respect to using it for humans, online there is warning about it being used by mouth (webMD website). Although there is a conspiracy theory that the big pharma companies discredit colloidal silver to protect their profit margins because it can’t be patented and it eats into their profits. It is a rather controversial products it appears.

What is FIV?

Feline immunodeficiency virus is an infectious condition that is found in domestic cats and cheetahs, which is comparable to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV infection) that threatens their owners. The disease strikes the immune system and causes weakness and vulnerability, as sickness and diseases not a problem to healthy felines now harbor life-threatening consequences for FIV cats. Unfortunately, the disease comes with no cure and there is no vaccine to give.

Eventually, the condition becomes fatal and a FIV-infected cat succumbs to a different infection or sickness. The scary part of the disease is that a cat can live several years without showing any signs of the illness. Feline immunodeficiency virus is classified as a lentivirus, which means it is a virus associated with a disease that develops at a slow pace.

The transmission of FIV takes place when a deep bite wound penetrates the bloodstream, allowing the virus to pass and infect. Sometimes, a mother cat can transfer the virus to her offspring during the gestation period of her pregnancy, as the kittens travel through the birth canal. Nursing may also spread FIV to kittens when they come in contact with tainted blood. While FIV only affects cats, it is important to note that some of the bacteria or parasites that cause the infection in cats are transmittable to humans. Those with a compromised immune system will become ill.

Risk Factors

The age, gender, and amount of time that a cat spends outdoors influence the chances of becoming infected with the virus. Older cats are more likely to come in contact with the feline immunodeficiency virus, as the average age of FIV cats are five years old at the time of their diagnosis. A prior illness also elevates the risk of FIV, as around 15% of all FIV cats in the United States possess the medical signs of an additional condition.

The temperament and habits of cats also place them in danger of contracting the disease. Male cats that display aggression; like to roam the neighborhood; and fight with other cats face a higher chance of becoming infected than females or non-aggressive males.

The Stages of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

During the first stage of the feline immunodeficiency virus, the initial infection settles in and then later spreads to surrounding lymph nodes. Eventually, all of the lymph nodes in the body will become affected. This particular phase is often referred to as asymptomatic, which means no telling signs will surface. Gradually, the number of immune system cells (CD4 or T helper cells) will decrease. The lower the CD4 count in a cat, the higher the risk of illness.

Over the course of the first stage, FIV-cat symptoms include fever, anemia (low red blood cell count), and neutropenia, which involve the abnormal decrease in the number of a kind of white blood cell that circulate throughout the body (neutrophils). During the first stage, most cats still possess a decent supply of CD4 cells to battle the disease. Overall, the first stage can last as little as a few days to weeks and sometimes – months.

As the disease passes into the second stage, asymptomatic symptoms may continue for years. The third phase of the feline immunodeficiency virus is sometimes referred to as ARC (AIDS-related complex), where a considerable drop in a cat’s immune system occurs. This creates a vulnerability that allows viruses, bacteria, fungi, and protozoans to compromise the health of the FIV cat, which normally doesn’t bother healthy felines. These opportunistic (or secondary) infections will continue to plague the health of an infected cat and will only worsen with time.

Symptoms of FIV Cats

In order to treat FIV cats with colloidal silver, a proper diagnosis and analysis of symptoms is required. While an infected cat may become lethargic, lose their appetite, develop a fever, experience weight loss, and suffer swollen lymph nodes, there are numerous specific symptoms associated with the feline immunodeficiency virus.

In about half of FIV-infected cat cases, chronic oral infections surface, as cats may wince when their face is touched or show difficulties when eating. Sometimes, they flat out refuse to eat because of the pain. Around the mouth, an unpleasant odor may arise.

Chronic upper respiratory diseases are common in FIV-infected felines, as about 30% of all cases suffer nasal discharge, sneezing, coughing, and problems with breathing. Often accompanying upper respiratory disease, cats develop eye disease that creates redness, discharge, and a cloudy cornea. In the worst cases, glaucoma becomes an issue.

Gastrointestinal problems, such as chronic diarrhea occur in 10% to 20% of FIV cats. Infection surfaces about the skin and ears (severe ringworm lesions, chronic abscesses, and hair loss), which eventually manifests into chronic or reoccurring incidents. This is sometimes one of the first signs of the disease.

FIV cats also suffer uncharacteristic changes in their behavior, such as loss of housetraining. They may show signs of dementia – a symptom directly caused by FIV, but is also a sign of parasitic and fungal secondary infections. Additional FIV symptoms include anemia and enlarged lymph nodes in the abdomen

On the whole, FIV-infected cats often pass away due to opportunistic infections, which attack their skin, eyes, coat, gastrointestinal tract, reproductive system, nerves, and appetite.

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Can FIV positive cats go outside?

Physically, of course, FIV-positive cats can go outside. This is a moral question more than anything else. It’s a question about protecting other cats who are FIV-negative. If you let a FIV-positive cat go outside they may pass the disease to a FIV-negative cat. Although transmission isn’t that easy. Close or casual contact alone is not a major source of transmission. The virus is shed in saliva. Cat bites occurring during fights among male cats are a source of virus transmission.

Deborah Bell
Deborah Bell, former Carthage Humane Society executive director, holds Fritz, an FIV-positive cat featured in a Globe pet column. Photo: Globe | Kevin McClintock

It’s believed that FIV affects 2% to 4% of cats in the general population in America and the incidence is highest in outdoor cats and in male cats in the age bracket 3-5.

Cats Protection in the UK gives us the full picture. They agree that cats pick up the virus mainly through fighting by bite wounds and as a consequence they recommend that FIV-positive cats are kept indoors but allowed outside into an enclosure. They shouldn’t be allowed direct contact with FIV-negative cats

They do say, however, that most boarding catteries allow FIV-positive cats if they’re not showing signs of any other disease. This is because standard precautions will prevent transmission of the disease including using disinfectants which kill the virus. Cats in boarding catteries are held separately.

FIV postive cat
“Our Brinkley is FIV+”. Pic: copyright free (assessed).

There is a danger, however, that a FIV-positive cat at a boarding cattery might receive a virus from one of the other cats because their immune systems are poor. The real danger for a FIV-positive cat as a boarding catteries is for the FIV-positive cat not the ones who are FIV-negative.

FIV-positive cats should be allowed to live out good lives. They make great companions. But veterinarians would say that the most effective way of preventing the disease is to keep cats from roaming and fighting with infected strays. This dramatically lowers the likelihood of infection.

FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus.

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How Do Cats Get AIDS?

Stray Cat Timmy
This is Timmy. He is or was a stray cat who got into fights. He got abscesses which were fixed by my vet and he was at risk of acquiring FIV. I have not seen him for years.

The answer is relatively straightforward although the best book on cat health1 doesn’t provide a definitive and confident answer. There is some uncertainty on transmission. And that also applies to the Cornell website.

The FIV virus is shed in saliva.

Therefore Cat bites are a source of transmission of the virus which causes AIDS (aka FIV). Note: “AIDS” is a layman’s term for FIV which stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Infection. The bite delivers the saliva carrying the virus and deposits it under the skin a bit like a hypodermic needle delivering a vaccination.

Bites are more likely to occur in outside, unneutered cats who fight over territory, which is why at the date of this post, there are several articles in the British online news media about a potential cat AIDS epidemic because there are an estimated 880,000 cats in the UK who are not neutered.

I have no idea how they arrived at that figure. Also, although a free roaming unneutered cat will be at a greater risk of getting FIV, it does not mean he’ll get it. It is a heightened risk factor. The reason for this statement is that tom cats fight more. That said male cats who have been neutered also fight.

USA statistics tell us that in the general cat population the incidence of feline AIDS is 2-4 percent while that figure rises to 3-5 percent for outdoor cats. We can see therefore that the greater risk of an unneutered cat getting feline AIDS is not that huge. The big risk is with outdoor male cats coming into conflict over territory.

A second possible way (on rare occasions) of transmission is when an infected mother passes the virus to her unborn kittens.

Contact between cats appears to be an inefficient route for transmission. It must be a potential route according to Cornell but they appear to be uncertain as mentioned. Cats in multi-cat homes should be tested for FIV.

Also, at a much lower level of risk, it would seem that allogrooming (mutual grooming between cat associates) could at least potentially or very rarely transmit the disease from one to the other because a cat’s saliva is deposited on another cat where it could be licked off by that cat. This is based on what I have read from reliable sources. I sense that the medical profession are not completely clear on this subject.

To return to the scaremongering news articles about an epidemic of feline AIDS. These stories are slightly ignorant or worse. It is sensible to highlight the risk to free roaming unneutered male cats but to overdo it simply makes people unjustifiably nervous about FIV (perhaps that is a good thing on second thoughts). Obviously male cats should be neutered and the major reason for it is to stop them creating more cats as we have enough already, something we are constantly reminded of.

Note 1: Cat Owner’s Home Veterinary Handbook pages 93-94 (third edition)

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Modern Treatments for FIV, FeLV and FIP

Today I’d like to discuss promising new medical breakthroughs in treating FIV, FeLV and FIP in cats. While the new medications aren’t a cure, they do buy an infected cat some time, as well as improve their quality of life. I’m especially excited about a breakthrough in FIP. More on that later.


  • FIV = Feline immunodeficiency virus
  • FIP = Feline Infectious Peritonitis
  • FeLV = Feline leukemia virus

New Treatments for feline diseases
New Treatments for feline diseases. Research.

FIV and FeLV

T-Cyte Therapeutics, Inc. has created a drug called LTCI (Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator). This drug has been around since 2008 and was approved for use in the U.S. in February 2009. The drug is classified as a lymphocyte T-cell immune modulator. This means it improves the immune system so a cat has a better chance at fighting off an infection. It’s used to treat cell abnormalities and opportunistic infections. LTCI is the only USDA approved drug to treat FIV and FeLV in cats.

The development of LTCI has an interesting history that can be found here. Dr. Terry Beardsley, a graduate of Baylor College of Medicine, set out to find a treatment that would mirror the body’s ability to fight infection. He used FIV and FeLV positive cats in his studies as he searched for a drug to treat HIV/AIDS. He’s the founder of T-Cyte Therapeutics, Inc.

The USDA granted T-Cyte a conditional license to test the drug using a study of 23 infected cats, of which 22 completed the study. The drug had no notable adverse reactions and their blood work showed marked improvement. This wasn’t a very large study, but individual cat owner’s are now spreading the word as to how LTCI saved their cats.

I would imagine the success of the drug is also influenced by how long the cat has carried the disease.

LTCI works by increasing the number of lymphocytes in the blood, as well as increasing red blood cell production. The increase in red blood cells will help a cat fight anemia. It also increases Interleukin 2 (IL-2) production, which helps the body fight off viruses and other infections.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary definition lists IL-2 as: an interleukin produced by antigen-stimulated helper T cells in the presence of interleukin-1 that induces proliferation of immune cells (as T cells and B cells) and is used experimentally especially in treating certain cancers.

A list of veterinary clinics currently using the drug can be found at by using this search facility [sorry this link is broken and therefore deleted at 1st Nov 2016].

Here’s the information to give your vet (if your vet isn’t familiar with the treatment) should you wish to use the drug on your cat:

  • In the USA, T-Cyte Therapeutics phone number is (1-800-483-2104).
  • Agrilabs, another carrier of the drug, can be contacted at (1-800)542-8916.
  • Abroad it can be ordered from Masters Pharmaceuticals Ltd., Unit 380, Centennial Avenue, Centennial Park, Elstree, Hertfordshire, WD6 3TJ, UK and their phone number is (0208 327 0900).

Please note I didn’t call or try to contact the suppliers of LTCI. Hopefully your clinic may already be using it on some of their patients.

FIP

Now for the exciting news! As though the success of LTCI in treating FIV and FeLV cats isn’t enough, LTCI is also being used to treat cats with FIP. I won’t go into all of the symptoms and dangers of FIP because that would take up a lot of space.

I lost an 8 month old kitten named Tramp to FIP back in 1993. It’s a cat disease that’s always been considered fatal. I can tell you from experience how horrible it is to know there’s little hope once your cat contracts FIP. There are several stories of hope written by average cat owners about their experience using the drug on their FIP cat.One is at http://www.examiner.com/article/miracle-girl-fip-couldn-t-kill-me. Whether LTCI is a treatment or a cure, cats who receive the drug are living longer with their disease.

The LTCI regimen consists of a series of injections. A typical schedule is one injection weekly for three weeks, a fourth injection two weeks later, a fifth injection two weeks after that, and a sixth injection one month after that. Then a booster injection is needed every six weeks. I did reference where one vet had given a total of 21 injections to an infected cat. I don’t know whether there’s a maximum number of doses a cat may be given or if there’s a cut off point. Since the drug has shown to have no bad side effects, perhaps it can be given for the life of the cat.

Use in FIP cats is classified as “off-label,” which means a vet can use it for a use other than what is was developed for. Unfortunately, some states may have laws limiting the use of an off-label drug.

The cost per injection is usually under $50 if ordered in packs of 4-6 from a manufacturer. A private vet may charge $110 or more per injection.

I’ve used quite a few reference articles in gathering the information for this article. Instead of giving the readers a long list, those of you wishing further information can Google “LTCI for cats” or “Tcyte for cats.” I also found a good bit by Googling “new FIV and FeLV treatments.”

Do any of the readers here have experience with this drug or know more about it than I’ve listed here? Any vets out there willing to comment? If so, did it show any marked improvement in your cats or the cats you treated?

One final question for the readers. How do you feel about the experimentation being done on cats who were FIV/FeLV positive to test a drug for treating HIV/AIDS? This is clearly a case where the cat has benefited from medical testing on animals. That doesn’t appear to happen very often.

Elisa

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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in Plain Language

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a virus that infects cats. Its presence in the cat causes the cat’s immune system to work much less well or not at all. A cat’s immune systems helps to protect the cat from infection. If it stops working the cat is more likely to become ill because it cannot stop infections from other viruses, bacteria and fungi (fungal infections).

The disease was first discovered in 1986 in a northern Californian cattery in the USA.

Cat With FIV - Brody
Cat With FIV – Brody. A handsome grey tabby. Photo by Rocky Mountain Feline Rescue

The Virus

The particular virus that causes FIV is part of a group of viruses called lentiviruses. The virus that causes AIDS in people (HIV) is in the same group.

However, a cat with FIV cannot give the disease to a person. Neither can a person with AIDS infect a cat with his disease.

This virus is also a “retrovirus”. This sort of virus multiplies inside the cat’s cells as part of the cell’s DNA (DNA – molecules containing chromosomes and genes).

How Common is FIV?

In the United States it is believed that 2-4% of cats “in the general population” are infected with FIV. In the UK the percentage is believed to be 6%.  Of all sick cats in the UK it is believed that 14% have FIV. These sorts of figures are probably about right for other countries.

Getting FIV

Outdoor male cats in the age range of 3-5 are most likely to get FIV because they get into fights and get bitten which is a way of passing the disease from one cat to another. If a pregnant cat gets FIV she can pass it on to her kittens. Close contact between cats is not the most common way to get FIV.

The Three Stages of FIV

Infected cats go through three stages of illness:

  1. Cat is very ill
  2. Cat shows no signs of illness
  3. Cat has multiple illnesses and dies

Initial Stage

Cat has a fever and swollen lymph nodes and may have diarrhea, skin infections and anemia. This lasts for up to about 6 weeks.

Middle or Latent Stage

This is called a “latent” period. This means the disease is present but not visible. This period can last up to about 12 years. Yes, a long time. The cat seems healthy during this time.

Terminal Stage

The cat shows signs of illness that are inline with the fact that the cat has no immune system. The illnesses are “unexplained”. This means there is no obvious reason for the illnesses that can be seen. As can be expected there are lots of health problems including:

  • mouth and gum disease
  • diarrhea
  • depressed
  • doesn’t want to eat
  • loss of weight
  • fever
  • infections that show as colds
  • ear infections
  • Infections of the urinary tract
  • dementia

Diagnosing FIV

Got to see a vet for this. It will be complicated.

Treatment

No effective treatment (at 2008). The only “treatment” is to minimise the risk of infection by:

  • feeding with best quality food
  • excellent parasite control (for example fleas)
  • keeping your cat indoors
  • low stress, gentle and comforting home

Preventing FIV

Stop cats roaming and fighting, There is a vaccine but there are problems with it. A vet’s advice is needed. Cats living in groups in homes should be tested. Cats with FIV should be removed from the others. See a good veterinarian.

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