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Healthy Cats

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Cat FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)

What Should I Do If I Think My Cat Has FIV?

If you suspect your cat has FIV, have him examined and tested by your veterinarian right away. During your visit, be ready to describe any symptoms that you have detected, no matter how minute they seem. Also make sure to keep your cat indoors, away from other felines who might possibly be infected or whom he could infect, until you have a diagnosis.

How Is FIV Diagnosed?

FIV infection is routinely diagnosed by blood testing. The FIV status of every cat should be known. The most common type of test looks for the presence of antibodies to the virus in the blood. No test is 100-percent accurate all of the time, and your veterinarian will interpret the test result and determine whether further testing is needed to confirm either a positive or negative test result. Once a cat is determined to be FIV-positive, that cat is capable of transmitting the disease to other cats.

Since it is possible for an infected mother cat to transfer FIV antibodies to her kittens, these kittens may test positive from their mother’s antibodies until they have cleared them from their systems, which happens by six months of age. Therefore, kittens who test positive for FIV antibodies when they’re younger than six months should undergo antibody tests again at a later date to see if they are infected.

How Is FIV Treated?

Unfortunately, there is no specific antiviral treatment for FIV. Cats can carry the virus for a long time before symptoms appear. Therefore, treatment focuses mainly on extending the asymptomatic period or, if symptoms have set in, on easing the secondary effects of the virus. Your veterinarian may prescribe some of the following treatments:

  • Medication for secondary infections
  • Healthy, palatable diet to encourage good nutrition
  • Fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy
  • Anti-inflammatory drugs
  • Immune-enhancing drugs
  • Parasite control

How Do I Care for My FIV-Infected Cat?

  • Keep your cat indoors. This will protect him from contact with disease-causing agents to which he may be susceptible. By bringing your cat indoors, you’re also protecting the uninfected cats in your community.
  • Watch for changes-even seemingly minor-in your cat’s health and behavior. Immediately report any health concerns to your vet.
  • Bring your cat to your vet at least twice per year for a wellness checkup, blood count and urine analysis.
  • Feed your cat a nutritionally balanced food-no raw food diets, please, as bacteria and parasites in uncooked meat and eggs can be dangerous to immunocompromised pets.
  • Be sure your cat is spayed or neutered.

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