Feline AIDS or FIV

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is almost like the cousin of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). This makes FIV cause AIDS in cats.

Like in HIV before it becomes AIDS, it may take a long time. And with modern medicine, this time period is prolonged. Prolonging its conversion to its lethal form buys us some time.

Another common viral disease of feral cats in Manila, it is a life-threatening and a contagious infectious disease. It does not discern whether the victim is a male or female cat.

The vaccine is not available in Manila, but limiting your cat’s contact with stray cats may help reduce the risk of infection.

WHAT CAUSES FELINE LEUKEMIA?

A virus that looks like this:

This virus, FIV, and the human HIV virus all belong to the family of viruses called Retroviruses.

SYMPTOMS

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Through bite wounds.

An infected cat with or without symptoms, bites your cat then transmits the virus.

If you have a strictly indoor cat household, it is unlikely for you to have the disease unless you rescue a cat and introduce it to your cattery.

An infected cat may not infect another cat simply by touching it.

If pregnant mother cat is sick, the kittens get the virus through the milk or contact with the birth canal. However, very few of them will become infected. Should a kitten test positive, it needs to be retested every 60 days until 6 months of age.

Sexual contact is not a way to pass FIV.

Your vet will recommend a rapid antibody test kit for FIV. It usually comes in pair with FeLV (cat leukemia). So you will get results for both viruses.

After collecting blood from your cat (hopefully without any struggle), your vet will use the sample the test kit. Similar to a human pregnancy test kit, two lines mean positive and one line is negative. Results come out in less than half an hour.

It depends on the stage of the disease. Your vet will require additional tests such as complete blood count, biochemistry profile, and urinalysis to get a baseline and assess your pet’s overall health.

If your vet tells you that your cat is at the later phase of the disease, hospitalization may be recommended, along with some maintenance medications at discharge. But if your cat is presumed to be at the early phase, you just need to tweak you and your pet’s lifestyle.

No need to isolate the infected cat if it has no aggression towards other cats in your house.

You cat should be kept indoors only to minimize its exposure to other infectious diseases in your community. If your cat lives outdoors most of its time, it will be mad at you. If it goes in to a tantrum, let the behaviour die a natural death. Simply ignore the behaviour.

If the cat escapes a lot, leave it in a closed but well ventilated room when you have visitors.

Never give raw food, raw eggs and unpasteurized milk to minimize illness. Raw food diet is dangerous to you as well. A raw chicken has Salmonella. Your cat may get sick from it and pass it on to you by kissing you. You could end up in the hospital.

For those pets who are in close contact with the infected one, they should be tested for FIV and regularly receive their annual shots. If their vaccination is still up-to-date (less than one year from last injection), no need to advance the shots.

Unfortunately, there is no cure for Feline AIDS.

But it is good to know that some positive cats can live a normal life for years if properly managed. If the time comes (such as more frequent hospitalization), the chances are now poor.

You must focus on supportive care like feeding good food, giving good vitamins, giving immune boosters, regularly using a parasite prevention product, and visiting your vet twice a year for monitoring.

If your cat is hospitalized repeatedly due to complications brought by the virus, its health is probably headed downhill.

Yes, since the virus does not live long in the environment. But it is better if you focus on your remaining cats first before getting a new one, or giving yourself some time to absorb everything before trying out new things.

This is a controversial topic. Some practices administer the 4-in-1 while some do not.

I would recommend just keeping the cat indoors, giving it good food, and a happy life.

Yes but only by using a prescription from a licensed veterinary professional.

You still need to bring your pet to the vet to know what is wrong, and what options he or she can give you depending on your circumstances.

Buying medicines that you saw other people use on the internet is not only irresponsible, it may also endanger the life of your pet.

Indiscriminate antibiotic use may help produce a multiple drug resistant bacteria in your dog that, when transferred to you, could end you up at a bed in the hospital.

No, the virus stays inside your cat’s body forever. This means that it is infected as long as it is alive. It may, however, acquire other opportunistic infections like fungal, bacterial or parasitic infections. So keep it in a clean house!

No. Neither your children nor your little cousins. But other cats may acquire the disease if they are bitten by your infected cat.

Yes, and they should not be mixed together. If this is the case, the FIV+ cat could be entrusted to a close relative or friend. The FIV+ cat has lots of opportunistic microbes in it which is shed in high numbers. When the immunosuppressed HIV+ human comes in contact with these microbes, it will be a big problem.

Immunosuppressed humans are also counted.

If you are rescuing or adopting an adult cat, visit the vet first and request the following:

  •  FIV/FeLV test
  • panleukopenia test, and
  • fecalysis

This is a great way to screen out a new cat before it is introduced to your household. If the cat is negative, it is still recommended to isolate the new cat away from the household cats for 14 days to prevent transmission of harmful germs and parasites.

If you already have a cat, it should be castrated (for males) or spayed (for females) before its first year to prevent roaming and sexually-triggered aggressive behaviour.

Limiting your cat’s contact with stray cats if beneficial but may be hard to do if it was raised to be an outdoor cat.

Note

Look for an emergency service provider in advance by calling your nearby vets. It helps to know who is open at the middle of the night. Be sure you meet with the doctors and staff to make sure that this place is where you would want to take your pet if you had to. You may opt to transfer your pet to your primary care veterinarian the next day if you wish.

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