FELINE IMMUNODEFICIENCY VIRUS FACT SHEET
What is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)?
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a viral infection that affects domestic cats. The virus is very similar to the HIV virus that causes AIDS in humans. Cross-species infection is not possible, i.e., cats cannot infect people and people cannot infect cats. Much of what holds true for HIV also holds true for FIV.
How is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) spread?
FIV is spread primarily through bite wounds, so outside cats that fight are at greater risk. FIV is not readily spread by casual contact. FIV infection is easily tested for with a simple blood test. Just as in HIV infection, infected cats may no show symptoms or develop AIDS for some time. The average life expectancy from time of diagnosis is five years.
How is feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) prevented?
The best way to prevent your cat from acquiring FIV is early screening and keeping your cat indoors. A vaccine is available, but is controversial. It is not effective against all strains and, once vaccinated, cats will always test positive. It is recommended that outdoor cats be screened annually.
What happens if a cat is diagnosed with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)?
When a cat is diagnosed with FIV some lifestyle changes are recommended. FIV positive cats should be kept indoors to prevent spread of disease and to protect a cat whose immune system that will be weakened. Vaccination should continue as for normal cats. Raw food diets are not recommended. Immune stimulating agents are not proven to be effective. Antioxidants have been proven to be effective in limited studies.