What is FIV?
FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Itís a lentivirus, meaning that it progresses very slowly, gradually affecting a catís immune system. It is passed through blood transfusions and through very serious penetrating bite wounds Ė mainly by stray intact male cats. The most well know lentivirus in humans is HIV. But the two are not the same and you cannot get FIV from a cat. FIV positive cats can test positive because they are exposed to the virus and are fighting it, because they are infected with the virus or because they have received a vaccine for FIV.
FIV positive cats can live many years without any issues. See our website for many of our wonderful FIV positive and non-FIV positive cats. We had a wonderful cat in our program - Maximillian. He was at least 17 years old and tested positive for FIV when he was two years old. Heís been completely healthy all of these years. Like many of our FIV kitties, he is incredibly friendly and even enjoys walking on a leash and harness.
The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a slow virus that may affect a cat's immune system over a period of years.
- FIV is a cat-only disease and cannot be spread to humans or other non-felines.
- FIV cats most often live long, healthy, and relatively normal lives with no symptoms at all.
- FIV is not easily passed between cats. It cannot be spread casually - like in litter boxes, water and food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. It is rarely spread from a mother to her kittens.
- The virus can be spread through blood transfusions, badly infected gums, or serious, penetrating bite wounds. (Bite wounds of this kind are extremely rare, except in free-roaming, un-neutered tomcats.)
- A neutered cat, in a home, is extremely unlikely to infect other cats, if properly introduced.
- Many vets are not educated about FIV since the virus was only discovered 15 years ago.
- FIV-positive cats should be kept as healthy as possible. Keep them indoors and free from stress, feed them a high-quality diet, keep and treat any secondary problems as soon as they arise.
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