The Cat Can Live A Normal Happy Life
FIV-positive cats can, and do, live long and otherwise healthy, happy lives. Putting them down is the ultimate tragedy. It is so uncalled for.
From what we have learned so far, we see that the virus acts slowly, so that kitties testing positive will, in the vast majority of cases, live long enough to die from old age, and complications of aging well before the virus has a chance to do them in.
The false positive problem is so prevalent that it makes the entire testing program essentially bogus. Not to mention, such an event causes great stress to the people fostering kittens, or the owners of a cat that tests positive.
FIV-POSITIVE CATS SHOULD NEVER, EVER,
BE VACCINATED AGAINST ANYTHING. EVER.
Loving And Living With A Cat With Fiv
Your patients with this feline immunodeficiency virus can live full and healthy lives, with a couple of cat-veats.
Chloe catches some moments in the sun. Read her story in the sidebar. Feline immunodeficiency virus can be a scary diagnosis for cat owners, especially if they associate it with the human immunodeficiency virus and AIDS. So what you do you do if a cat becomes infected or the owners want to adopt a cat that is already infected? We asked feline practitioner Kelly St. Denis, MS, DVM, DABVP , owner of Charing Cross Cat Clinic in Brantford, Ontario.
Chloe doesn’t let her deadly disease keep her in the shadows.
The case of Chloe, the immunocompromised kitty
Chloe was adopted by her owners at about 6 months of age after she had started hanging around their house. She joined another cat and a dog in the household was allowed to be an indoor-outdoor cat.
About six months later, she came home with a large cat bite wound and was found to have become infected with FIV. The veterinarian warned Chloe’s owners that she could pass the infection on to the other cat in the household. In addition, he warned that she would always be at risk for serious disease because of her immunocompromised state and that she could never be an outside cat again because of the risk of her passing on the infection to other cats. Chloe’s owners agreed to her new indoor-only status and took the chance of their other cat becoming infected. The veterinarian also started Chloe on interferon.
What You Should Know When Adopting An Fiv Positive Cat
Are FIV cats unadoptable?
Historically, FIV- positive cats have often been considered un-adoptable, and are euthanized in many shelters. However, new research has shown that FIV-positive cats are in fact very adoptable, and can live the same lifespan as an FIV-negative cat. This research has also debunked the myth that FIV- positive cats cannot safely live with non- infected cats. That is why many veterinarians, including the feline medicine experts at the American Association of Feline Practitioners , suggest shelters and owners never opt for euthanasia based on a positive test alone.
According to Dr. Julie K. Levy, founder of Maddies Shelter Medicine Program at the University of Florida, it is estimated that about 4% of all feral cats in the US are infected with FIV. The infection rate is even lower at 1.5% to 3% in healthy owned cats. She says, Looking at all cats, feral and otherwise, who are diagnosed with FIV, we find that about 25% are female and about 75% are male. The vast majority of FIV infections occur among outdoor, unneutered male cats that fight and bite. Levy also pointed out that the condition is rare among kittens, because they dont start in with their high-risk behavior until theyre older. So, although older cats are more vulnerable, age in itself is not a determining factor. Its a behavioral issue.
Is your family at risk if you adopt an FIV-positive cat?
How is FIV transmitted?
How is FIV diagnosed?
Also Check: 10 Year Old Cat In Cat Years
Fiv Tests Can Provide False Positives Or Inconclusive Results:
- Standard tests only detect antibodies against the virus, not the virus itself. The presence of antibodies does not mean the cat is infected.
- Positive FIV tests in kittens under 6 months of age should not be interpreted as FIV infection. Kittens are rarely infected with FIV but may test positive because FIV antibodies can be passed to them from infected mothers through nursing. For a more accurate interpretation, kittens under 6 months of age who test positive for FIV should be retested when they are between 8 and 12 months of age, when maternal antibodies have declined.
- Current FIV tests cannot distinguish between cats who are infected with FIV, cats who were at one point vaccinated against FIV, or cats who are both infected and vaccinated. The Fel-O-Vax® FIV vaccine stimulated the production of antibodies that are indistinguishable from those that develop from natural FIV infection. Though this vaccine was discontinued in the U.S. and Canada in 2015, the American Association of Feline Practitioners says the antibodies it produced can persist for more than seven years in some cats. That means for several years to come, accurate testing for FIV will be complicated. Previously vaccinated cats will remain among the cat population and could also travel from locations where Fel-O-Vax is still in use to the U.S. and Canada.
- Even without exposure to the FIV vaccine, FIV tests are not 100 percent accurate and can yield false positive results.
Do Cats Know When They Are Dying
Because cats rely primarily on body language to communicate to one another, they must be attuned to biological and behavioral changes in the other animals around them. This includes detecting weakness or changes in body temperature and odor. They are also intuitive in that they often know when they are about to die.
Read Also: My Cat Squints At Me
Alternatives To The Fiv Vaccination
Prevention is the key to avoiding FIV infection. So, even though the FIV vaccine is no longer on the market, there are several steps that you can take to safeguard your cat against the disease.
Spaying and neutering is recommended for all cats. This will help reduce fighting behavior and, therefore, the risk of infection. Also, keeping your cats indoors will minimize their risk of encountering FIV-positive cats, who tend to live outdoors and are often strays.
Also, any new cats in your household should be tested for FIV so that you can determine the risk of disease transmission to other cats in the home.
You might think that cats living with FIV-positive cats would definitely become infected, but recent studies have shown that FIV transmission in multi-cat households is actually rare.
FIV is not likely to spread through normal contact or by sharing food and water bowls.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus: Deciding When To Euthanize
FIV is known by several different names: Feline HIV, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, Cat FIV, Feline Aids, and Cat Aids. It is a contagious feline virus, one of several that can threaten your cat’s health, even his life.
When many of my veterinary clients first learn of the feline immunodeficiency virus, their immediate concern is often the fear that this cat version of the virus could be contagious to humans. Fortunately, it is not and your cat does not catch FIV from people.
Part of this concern, no doubt, comes from some of those names FIV has been given. Calling this feline virus by the names of Feline HIV, Feline Aids, and Cat Aids leads people to believe there is a connection between HIV and FIV. While there are many similarities in the method of transmission and problems it causes for the infected cat, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is species specific.
FIV is transmitted from cat to cat primarily through bites and is one of the main reasons I started letting my cats outside only in outdoor cat enclosures several years ago.
The following question and answer illustrate some of the problems that result from a cat being infected by the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus and addresses the issue of deciding when a cat’s poor quality of life necessitates a consideration of euthanasia.
Should he be put to sleep?
However, what I pay most attention to, whether a cat has FIV or not, are the following:
Don’t Miss: How Many Calories Cat Per Day
Treatment For Cats With Fiv
Unfortunately, there is currently no cure for an FIV infection. Although a significant amount of research is being devoted to developing effective treatment options for FIV, few extensive long-term controlled studies in naturally infected cats have shown long-lasting benefits of using antiviral drugs. These medications are limited and tend to show lower efficacy in feline patients compared with human patients. Due to the lack of proven effectiveness, and their toxicity, antiviral drugs are indicated only in exceptional cases of FIV infection.
FIV-infected cats need special care and management, as described above. If they receive this management and care, they can live for many years in good health.
How Do You Diagnose Cat Fiv
If you start seeing potential signs of the FIV cat virus in your pet, you should have them examined by a veterinarian. It is a good idea to make a note of the cat FIV symptoms you’ve observed and pass that on to the doctor. It would also help if you keep your cat from going outside until you receive a confirmation on whether they have FIV. That way, you can prevent your pet from potentially spreading the virus to other cats.
Vets typically diagnose FIV in cats by performing blood tests that look for specific antibodies present in an infected cat’s blood. Your doctor may opt for additional testing before settling on a diagnosis of FIV. It is especially important to have pregnant cats evaluated for the virus because they can pass FIV to their kittens.
Recommended Reading: How Many Calories Should A Cat Have A Day
Prognosis For Infected Cats
The prognosis for FIV-infected cats is guarded, but depends on the stage of disease. If FIV is diagnosed early, there may be a long period during which the cat is free of clinical signs related to FIV, and not all infected cats go on to develop an immunodeficiency syndrome. Infection is almost invariably permanent, but many infected cats can be maintained with a good quality of life for extended periods.
Looking For More Resources
You can save a life by adopting one or more of these kitties. Call local shelters for information, particularly those that rescue FIV-positive cats.
Provide educational materials for your own local rescues or shelters if they are still stuck in the “dark ages” and needlessly killing these cats.
With a little help, we can make this unsavory practice a thing of the past.
This kitten was named “Wolfman” because of his fluffy coat. He was one of my early fosters, who was healthy, FIV negative, and he found a wonderful forever home.
Don’t Miss: 2 Month-old Cat In Human Years
What Are The Signs Of A Dying Cat
Signs Your Cat Is Dying Lack of Interest In Eating and Drinking. Its common for cats to lose their appetite toward the end of their lives. Extreme Weakness. You will notice your cat becoming more lethargic and refusing to move. Lower Body Temperature. Changes in Appearance and Smell. Seeking Solitude.
I Have Other Cats In My Household What Should I Do
Infected cats are a possible source of infection so other cats in the household should be FIV-tested. Ideally, all FIV-positive cats should be isolated or rehomed where there will be no contact with other cats. However, as the risk of transmission by social contact such as sharing food bowls and mutual grooming is low, many owners decide to continue keeping all their cats together. Feed cats using separate food bowls, as large amounts of the virus are present in saliva. Litter trays and food bowls should be disinfected after use to kill the virus. The virus dies outside the cat within a few hours so infection is not easily carried on objects.
Don’t Miss: Savannah Mix Cat
Releasing Fiv/felv Positive Cats
Street Paws opposes euthanizing any feral/street cat simply because he or she tests positive for FIV or FeLV . If the cat shows no active signs of ill health, we believe he/she should be released back into his colony regardless of the test results. Because this is our policy, we do not test in the first place unless the cat does show signs of ill health and our veterinarian believes test results would be useful in diagnosis and treatment, or unless the cat is a candidate for adoption.
The reasons for these policies include the following:
1. First and foremost, we do not euthanize positive, asymptomatic cats because we believe they have as much of a right to live as any being. Euthanasia is defined as the mercy killing of a suffering being, not imposed death for purposes of convenience or concern about possible future consequences. Too often, when it comes to feral cats and other animals, euthanasia is resorted to as a solution to whatever may be the problem no place to house them, too expensive to treat, etc. In our view, such actions demonstrate a lack of respect for life and ultimately cause damage to us all. When euthanasia is eliminated as an alternative, other solutions are found.
Given these facts, the practice of killing cats based on a one-time test inevitably leads to the death of animals who were never infected in the first place or who would have successfully fought the infection off given enough time.
Our Question This Week Was:
Dr. Debra my 5 yr old cats aids test came out positive, the other 2, tested negative. He has no symptoms at all. He eats well goes to the bathroom regularly and is very playful. They advice me to put him down so as not to endanger the others. I have him in a separate room. Can sharing food & water be dangerous to the others? Any suggestions or advice?
Don’t Miss: Why Is My Old Cat Sleeping In The Bathtub
Insuring Your Fiv Cat
Most pet insurance companies should agree to insure an FIV positive cat, however they may add extra ‘exclusions’ in the policy for anything they might consider to be FIV related. Ask around different insurance companies, to compare what they will cover. Even with exclusions, we still recommend taking out insurance for your FIV cat. A good back-up plan is to set up a direct debit into a savings account, to build up extra funds in case something crops up that your insurance policy doesn’t cover.
How Does Fiv Testing Work
Usually, cats are initially tested for FIV with a point-of-care test, meaning they are tested at a veterinary clinic or shelter. This test, also called an ELISA , provides a quick diagnosis during the same visit in which the cat was tested. FIV POC tests are best run on a cats blood rather than saliva.
ELISA tests detect FIV-related antibodies, which can take 60 days or more to develop in a cat after initial infection. For the most conclusive results, cats should be retested 60 days after they were believed to be infectedespecially if they originally tested positive for FIV.
A positive FIV test in a cat is not necessarily a diagnosis. Further testing is often needed. An FIV-positive test does not require euthanasia unless the cat is already ill and suffering beyond treatment.
Recommended Reading: How Many Calories Does A Cat Need A Day
Will I Be Able To Insure My Fiv Cat
Pet insurance companies should be informed if your cat is infected with FIV – just as with any other pre-existing conditions. Each insurer offers different terms and conditions but many do not provide payouts for pre-existing conditions or illnesses. Be sure to fully discuss FIV with any potential insurers.
Further Information & Advice
Catwork Sanctuary – Introduction to FIV: www.fivcats.com/FIV/fiv_introduction.htmlCelia Hammond Animal Trust – FIV+ Cats: www.celiahammond.orgChat to other FIV owners on the Cat Chat Forum: Catwork Sanctuary – Should FIVs be ‘indoor-only’?: fivcats.com/FIV/fiv_indoor_only’80 FIV Cats’ – Catwork Sanctuary’s booklet about FIV: fivcats.com/FIV/80_fiv_cats_bookletCould you Adopt an FIV+ cat? Ask at your local Rehoming Centre:
Help Prevent the Spread of FIV – Please Neuter Your Cat!
1,000 FIV CATS PROJECT: an ongoing project by Catwork Sanctuary. If you, or someone you know, owns or has owned, an FIV cat, you can contribute to this project, and help to give more FIV cats the chance of a happy life:Due to the misconceptions about this virus, FIV positive cats in shelters find it harder to find new homes, even though in all other respects they are just normal cats. Many rescue centres will pay for any future FIV related veterinary treatment even after rehoming. If you think you might be able to give a home to an FIV cat, ask at your local rescue centre here:
Thanks to: Maureen Hutchison BSc, BVMS, MRCVS Diane Addie Ph.D of the Council of Cats Protection Celia Hammond Animal Trust Catwork Sanctuary, Somerset, for advice and information when compiling this page.Cats Protection produce leaflets on many feline medical conditions: see their website » www.cats.org.uk
You May Like: Who Lives Longer Cats Or Dogs
What Are The Symptoms Of Fiv Infection
The symptoms following infection with the virus are usually mild. The cat may have a mild fever for a few weeks and there may be enlargement of the lymph nodes . But often, cats infected with FIV appear completely normal.
Months or years later, as infection progresses, the cat may develop fever, lethargy, poor appetite and weight loss. Any recurrent illnesses may suggest that the cat has FIV or another virus, such as FeLV .
Common signs include long-lasting or recurrent diarrhoea, a runny nose and sneezing , inflammations of the eye and recurrent skin infections. They are also more likely to get some types of cancer.