What is FIV?
FIV is a virus that affects only cats, the initials stand for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. This basically means that the effect of the virus is to reduce the cat’s immune system, making it more susceptible to infection – put simply; it can’t fight off infection as well as a non-FIV cat.
Other than this, the cat is very healthy and can live a long life, when protected, and there is no medication to give.
How serious is FIV?
In itself, FIV is not serious, it is the other infections that the cat may pick up, which can cause the problem in an FIV cat, due to the weakness in the immune system.
How is FIV transmitted?
Through biting, the virus needs to actually enter the blood stream, so the vast majority of transmissions are through biting in fights.
What are the symptoms of FIV?
FIV does not in itself have any obvious symptoms, but often a cat which shows symptoms of other infections, proves to have the FIV virus. Signs of suffering from any general malaise problems can (but not necessarily) be indicators of an infected cat. So a young, otherwise healthy cat that shows signs of gum disease, for instance, may be showing signs of infection. But gingivitis (inflamed gums) is also common in uninfected cats.
Can FIV be cured?
Sadly no. Once a cat has FIV, it will always have FIV.
Scotch (above) and Benjamin (very top) are FIV cats
What can I do to help my FIV cat?
Look after them carefully, is the simple answer. You need to keep a careful eye on your FIV cat to notice any sign of ill-health, and investigate sooner, rather than later. Any problems, such as not eating, should not be left for long without getting a vet’s opinion. Not eating is a great example, as gum infection is often an early problem with an FIV cat. The mouth is a particularly sensitive area, and has to cope with all manner of bacteria from food so is often the first place where problems arise in any cat – whether FIV or not.
How long will my FIV cat live?
Potentially, as long as any other cat. Surprisingly, there is no proven shortening of life expectancy with FIV cats. It is not FIV that causes the problems, but the secondary infections it may pick up. So if you are vigilant, your cat should live a normal length of life.
Our homing policy with FIV cats.
We rehome FIV cats as indoor-only cats. Ideally we would like cats to be in upper story flats, or if you can show precautions for not letting them get outside (window guards, porch doors etc).