Feline AIDS

Totally Vets Feilding has been involved with the Alley Cat Trust recently, which traps and de-sexes stray cats. All these cats are tested for the FIV and FeLV prior to surgery. In the last month we have had two test positive to FIV.

 Feline AIDS is caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).  FIV causes a potentially fatal viral disease that interferes with the cat’s immune system.

The virus lives in the blood of the infected cat and is carried in its system throughout its life.  Infected cats may expose healthy cats with which they come into contact, most often through biting.  Even though the feline aids virus is related to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), no human has ever been reported to be infected with FIV. 

While some infected cats show no obvious signs of disease, others may display some of the following symptoms: weight loss, painful gums and dental disease, eye lesions, chronic infections, cancer and neurological disease. As happens in AIDS, the immune system becomes too weak to fight off infections eventually resulting in death.

All cats with outdoor access are ultimately at risk of contracting FIV through a cat fight wound, where the virus enters. Cats that fight regularly are at a particularly high risk.  There is no treatment or cure for an FIV infected cat. 

Vaccination is the only way to prevent contracting feline AIDS in cats and kittens with outdoor access.  There is a vaccine available which requires three doses at 2-4 week intervals to build immunity, which must be followed up with annual boosters to maintain the best chance of protection. 

A blood test may be required before vaccination to check for pre-exposure to the virus, however it is not typically required before your cat is 6 months of age. 

The FIV vaccine is a safe and effective vaccine.  Only occasional reactions to the vaccine have been reported, typically loss of appetite and lethargy for the first 24 hours after vaccination. 

 

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