Cats are one of the rare animal species that can get a virus that attacks and destroys the immune system. Similar to HIV and AIDS in humans, FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus), also known as feline AIDS, was first discovered in 1986 and can have the same symptoms and effects.
There is currently no cure for FIV, but it is possible to treat and there are measures you can take to avoid your cat getting the disease.If your cat is diagnosed with FIV, they can still live happily for many years if you follow veterinary advice to keep them healthy.
FIV can only be passed from cat to cat, meaning that cats can't pass it to humans or other animals, and vice-versa. This means that if you have a FIV-positive cat and a dog at home, your dog is in no danger of being infected.FIV-positive and negative cats can also live together, as long as the two get on well together and are both neutered. FIV is transmitted through contact with an infected cat's blood, during mating, and from mother to kittens before they're born.[caption id="attachment_46172" align="alignnone" width="1000"]
FIV can be transmitted if a cat bites an infected cat. (Illustration) Source: Feline Friendly Care[/caption]Your cat won't be able to catch it from mutual grooming, sharing a bowl or sharing a litter box.The majority of cats with FIV are fertile males who are allowed to go outsidesince they're more likely to get into aggressive fights and come into contact with infected blood. 15% of stray cats have feline AIDS.
The symptoms of FIV are similar to those of many other sicknesses and can be difficult to spot. The incubation period for FIV is usually between four and six weeks, after which it will show itself in three stages:
If you have a cat that is allowed outside and is likely to fight or breed with others, it may be important to have them tested.Your veterinarian will be able to run a quick blood test to detect the disease. They take some blood from your cat, which is then analyzed in a procedure similar to a pregnancy test. The results are received just minutes later.[caption id="attachment_46174" align="alignnone" width="686"]
Blood tests for FIV and FeLV. (Illustration) Source: adhocvet[/caption]For kittens born to a FIV-positive mom, it is important to wait until they are at least three or four months old for the test to be reliable. Their antibodies are not yet stable before this age and the test results can change from week to week.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for FIV, making prevention crucial. It is important to avoid risky contact between sick and healthy cats. Therefore, it is recommended that you spay or neuter your cats and kittens, especially those with access to the outdoors, to avoid them fighting or mating with cats carrying the virus.
If your cat is HIV-positive, vaccinating them against common cat diseases can help save their life by keeping him from getting sick. Your veterinarian will then be able to keep your cat as healthy as they can by treating the diseases they catch because of their weakened immune system.FIV, like feline cancer and typhus, is a serious illness that can frighten a concerned pet parent. But by reacting quickly and knowing what to look out for, you can put them in the best position to live a happy life for years after being diagnosed.
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