FIV stands for feline immunodeficiency virus and it is a virus that affects domestic cats. FIV is similar to the HIV virus that affects people, however FIV only affects cats and it cannot be transmitted to people or dogs. A cat becomes infected with FIV when another infected cat bites it, and the virus, which is found in the saliva of the cat, passes beneath the skin. FIV is not spread through casual contact between cats and it is unusual for cats in the same household to spread the disease unless they fight.
The only way to tell if a cat is FIV-positive is through a blood test. FIV infection progresses slowly and FIV-positive cats may remain free of symptoms for years and can live a long and healthy life with proper veterinary care and a healthy lifestyle.
- The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a slow moving virus that affects 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 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.