Positive Doesn’t Need to Be Negative: Adopting and Living With an FIV-Positive Cat

Visitor weblog By Dr. Linda Jacobson, President, Ontario Shelter Medication Affiliation 

FIV stands for “feline immunodeficiency virus.” This can be a virus in the identical group as HIV, however it’s particular to the cat household and might’t cross over into individuals or different animals.  

There are numerous misconceptions about FIV, probably the most excessive one being that each cat with FIV is sick and/or extremely contagious and needs to be euthanized. This isn’t supported by the information, and fortuitously this sort of considering isn’t encountered today. 

Let’s begin with what an preliminary optimistic FIV check means, as a result of this may trigger lots of confusion. The most typical check is a point-of-care fast check, conceptually just like the COVID fast antigen check. Not like the COVID antigen check, although, it detects antibody, a footprint of the immune response to the virus, and never traces of the virus itself. That is vital as a result of, in a kitten beneath 6 months of age, a optimistic antibody check signifies that the kitten virtually definitely obtained these antibodies by ingesting milk from its (FIV-positive) mom. These kittens are almost all the time actually FIV-negative, as a result of it’s virtually unparalleled for this specific virus to cross instantly from the mother to the kitten.  

If a cat has a optimistic antibody check after 6 months of age, generally they actually do have FIV an infection. FIV is normally unfold by way of deep chunk wounds, and is overwhelmingly a illness of grownup cats, particularly sexually energetic males. 

One of many first questions adopters ask is, will this cat give FIV to my different cat(s)? The reply isn’t any. FIV can’t unfold simply. The virus dies in a short time outdoors the cat’s physique, normally inside minutes. Simply residing with one other cat with FIV, in a traditional dwelling setting, doesn’t end in unfold.1 Even when cats don’t like one another, it’s extraordinarily unlikely that their dislike will outcome within the sort of deep chunk wounds that FIV requires to contaminate one other cat. (That is, in fact, assuming that the cats are spayed or neutered. If they’re intact and breeding, that’s one other matter altogether.) 

One other query that’s continuously requested is, what does this analysis imply for me and my cat? Does having FIV imply my cat is sick, or will certainly get sick sooner or later?  

There’s excellent news right here, too, however first the dangerous information. Cats with FIV do have the potential to develop immune deficiency, and this may result in continual or uncommon infections. The excellent news is that many cats with FIV won’t ever develop scientific immune deficiency.2 In my expertise with shelter cats in Toronto, when cats with FIV do have scientific indicators of an infection, it’s usually a gentle intermittent chilly, or typically an an infection after a “soiled” surgical procedure like dental extractions. We’ve simply not seen the identical sort of illness development that do typically see with feline leukemia virus (a completely completely different virus with some comparable options). And when our FIV-positive cats do get sick with common cat illnesses, they reply effectively to plain remedies.  

Do FIV-positive cats make good companions? Nicely, they’re all completely different, so there’s nobody reply. That stated, there definitely is a “kind” that we within the sheltering world all know and love. The “typical” FIV-positive cat is a giant tom, with massive cheeks, a can-do perspective, and a set of scars from his life outdoor. Those that are comfy round individuals are prone to be cats who have been socialized when younger, and have been later misplaced or deserted. They’ve massive hearts and massive personalities and make great and loving relations. 

Ought to cats with FIV be managed in a different way from different cats? Probably not. What we wish for all cats is common veterinary visits, to be updated on vaccinations and deworming, and to obtain a high-quality, balanced weight loss program. Good major well being care is especially vital for cats which may have immune deficiency. We additionally suggest that these cats mustn’t have entry to the outside, to restrict their publicity to infectious illnesses. Nonetheless, the AAFP (American Affiliation of Feline Practitioners) pointers level out that, for cats that will likely be extremely harassed with an indoor-only life-style, being allowed outdoor, together with a working cat placement, may be thought-about. This doesn’t pose a threat to different cats they might encounter – once more assuming they’re first spayed or neutered to forestall high-risk behaviours. 

Adopters could fear {that a} FIV-positive cat will quickly get sick and die. That is unlikely, as these cats usually have a traditional lifespan. In the event that they do develop indicators of FIV immune suppression, it’s as much as every household to determine how they need to proceed. There are just a few medicines which may assist suppress the virus, however the advantages for cats haven’t been confirmed as they’ve been in individuals. We counsel adopters to deal with sustaining a very good high quality of life for his or her FIV-positive cats, and that heroics will not be required, although some households would possibly select to pursue intensive and costly remedies. There needs to be no guilt concerned in saying goodbye after you could have given an animal a beautiful second likelihood – a very good high quality of life in a loving dwelling. 


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