“FIV” stands for “Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.” FIV is a retrovirus just like HIV in people; fortunately FIV can not be transmitted to people. About 1-5% of seemingly healthy cats carry the FIV virus. There is no cure, once infected.
All new kittens or cats to a household need to be tested for FIV! We don’t want a new kitten or cat to infect current feline members of the house.
Here is a photo of Cindy, with a little kitten named Keith, who tested FIV positive when he was just a few months old.
Keith (above) is recovering from his neuter operation.
Back to FIV: how do cats get it? Cats most commonly acquire FIV through biting (cat fights) and intercourse. Outdoor male cats are the most likely to pick up FIV; indoor cats are very unlikely to acquire the infection.
You want to test your outdoor cat on an annual basis because IF your kitty acquires FIV, we need to consider making him an indoor cat for two reasons: 1) an FIV-positive cat is more susceptible to a variety of other infections (viral, bacterial, fungal and protozoal!) and 2) we want to limit the spread of the virus throughout the feline population.
Can you ever get rid of the infection? Well, no… But we do sometimes have kittens born to FIV-positive mothers who TEST “FIV positive.” The SNAP test used for screening FIV is an “antibody test.” IF a kitten tests positive, and is less than 6 months old, it is standard procedure to re-test after 6 months’ age.
In the case of adorable Keith, it was GREAT NEWS:
Take care out there, my feline friends.
L. Scott, DVM