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What is FIV?
FIV, or feline immunodeficiency virus, causes AIDS in cats. Humans cannot be infected with FIV; FIV is a cats-only infection.
How is FIV transmitted?
The most common route of transmission is from a deep bite wound that may occur between cats during a fight. Mother cats can also infect their kittens at the initial stages of infection. In addition, FIV can be transmitted sexually and through blood transfusions from an infected cat.
How do I know if my cat is infected?
FIV can be easily diagnosed by a screening blood test which is a simple blood test done at your veterinarian’s office. If your cat was vaccinated against FIV in the past, a second test can be performed to distinguish between vaccination and true infection.
How can I prevent it?
All cats must be tested at a young age when they start their vaccine boosters. Anything you can do to avoid your cat from fighting with other cats (especially outdoor cats) will help prevent FIV infection.
What do I do if my cat is infected?
Keep your cat indoors only: If you have multiple cats in the house, you may have to isolate your infected cat to avoid risk of fighting and infecting the others. The responsible thing to do is to not let your FIV positive cat go outdoors and spread infection in your community.
Feed a good quality food, preferably supplemented with antioxidants. Do not feed any raw foods
Good parasite control: Keep your cat on a monthly flea and/or tick preventative. Have your veterinarian check a fecal sample for parasites once or twice a year.
Immunostimulating agents: There are numerous products available with the purpose of stimulating the immune system of a cat such as, Inteferon, vitamins, supplements, etc. Talk to your veterinarian about your options
Having your cat test positive for FIV is not necessarily an immediate death sentence. Be sure to seek advice from your veterinarian about the best way to handle your specific situation.
Nydia Melissa Perez, DVM