Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a disease related to HIV (AIDS) in humans. FIV does similar things to cats as HIV does to people… BUT… FIV cannot be transmitted to from cats to humans.
It is only transmitted from cat to cat, primarily through fight and bite wounds. It is a potentially life threatening disease for cats but the symptoms and severity can vary a lot from case to case.
FIV infection will ultimately shorten the life-span of infected cats. Infected cats can however sometimes seem healthy for up to 10 years, and some never actually show signs of having the disease at all. Other cats may show fever, loss of appetite, lethargy, diarrhoea, weight loss, sores in the mouth, eye lesions, poor hair coats, and chronic infections.
Because FIV is transmitted by fighting and biting, it is recommended that any cat spending any amount of time outdoors and that may therefore end up fighting with another cat should be vaccinated.
What do FIV vaccinations do?
Vaccinations all work by stimulating antibody production for the given disease. These antibodies help to protect them against infection if and when they are challenged naturally. However, whenever an animal is naturally exposed to any disease, it can also produce antibodies by itself too. Because of this, antibodies can be of either vaccinal or natural origin and they are indistinguishable one type from the other with routine testing.
But, a positive test for antibodies can mean one of two things:
- The cat has previously been exposed to FIV and may or may not be currently infected.. OR…
- The cat has been vaccinated in the past for FIV.
Fortunately there is a new specialist test that distinguishes between these two possibilities
What do pounds and animal shelters do?
Every cat presenting to an animal pound or shelter is always scanned for a microchip and tested for FIV before being offered for adoption. This is very simply because no shelter wants to “rehome” a cat that already has an owner and neither do they want to “rehome” a stray that might already have Feline Aids. If there is no microchip and the test is positive, these cats must be euthanased.
Now then, because every cat that has been FIV immunized will for sure test positive, we recommend microchipping to any cat that we vaccinate for FIV.
Microchipping need only be done once and the registry is lifelong; there are no ongoing associated costs.
Adult cats can be tested prior to being given the vaccination. If the test is positive, the cat already has antibodies, so there is no reason to give the vaccination. If the test is negative, the vaccination is given in 3 doses, each dose given 2-4 weeks apart.
Kittens need not be tested prior to vaccination for FIV. The FIV vaccination can be included in their kitten vaccination (F3+FIV) and given at the usual 3 doses, 4 weeks apart.
In either cases of adult cats or kittens, the vaccination is boostered annually. Again, microchipping is strongly recommended.
We are providing this advice service to our clients in a hope that they can decide if this vaccination is right for their cat and their lifestyle. Please note that as testing and microchipping may be required prior to vaccination, it is best to book in advance. Be sure to tell our receptionist when you call that the visit is for FIV vaccination. We can then make sure we have tests and vaccinations in stock, as well as enough time to discuss the vaccination and run the test during your visit.