What You Need To Know About FIV And Your Cat

Posted on: 1 July 2016

Feline immunodeficiency virus, FIV, is a species-specific virus that infects cats. FIV is similar to the human immunodeficiency virus, HIV, in the way it attacks the white blood cells, allowing other infections and viruses have their way in the body. When a cat has FIV, his or her immune system is weakened and it stays that way for life. Learn more about FIV and how you can take steps to protect your cat.

Symptoms Of FIV Have Immunosuppressive Properties

When a cat is initially infected with FIV, his or her white blood cell count drops, giving way to a weakened immunity. Because of the way FIV weakens the immune system, cats carrying it can become chronically ill from degenerative inflammatory disease like arthritis, pneumonia, neurological issues, and diarrhea. Chronic gingivitis is common in cats infected with FIV. Some cats suffer with chronic skin diseases because of FIV.

Steps You Can Take To Protect Your Cat

If your cat has tested positive for FIV, you should know he or she can still live a long life. Owning a cat with FIV means:

  • You should keep your cat indoors as much as possible to prevent him or her from being exposed to stray cats that could be carrying diseases. Since your cat's immunity is low, some diseases like common respiratory infections can kill your cat.

  • Spaying or neutering your cat is the best way to keep him or her from wandering off and being exposed to other cats. Even if you work hard to keep your cat indoors, there is always the chance he or she could get out.

Owners with cats that test negative for FIV will need to take steps to prevent their felines from being infected with it. Your veterinarian can do a blood test on your cat to check for antibodies specific to FIV because they fight it, but no test is available that detects the actual virus. However, many vets depend on antibody detection to determine if a cat has FIV or not. If the antibodies are present, your cat is considered FIV free.

About Vaccinating Your Cat Against FIV

After a cat is vaccinated for FIV, he or she will usually test positive after that for FIV, even though the virus is not present. Because of this anomaly, having your cat micro-chipped at the same time with information about being vaccinated for FIV is a good idea. This way, shelter and veterinarian professionals will know he or she does not actually have the virus. In the event your cat gets lost and ends up in an animal shelter, he or she could face euthanasia because of testing positive for FIV without being identified as being vaccinated.

Caring for your cat's good health is an important responsibility, especially when it comes to protecting him or her from serious diseases. Learning more about FIV and what you can do to keep your cat healthy is smart.

For pet vaccinations, contact a company such as Edinburgh Animal Hospital