What is FIV in Cats? – The Answer You Need to Know

FIV in Cat

​One of the common question cat owners asks if they find out that their furry friend has been positive for FIV is that, what exactly if FIV? Is it transferable to humans and is it curable? To give you a better understanding of this condition, please read the following information.

FIV is a condition caused by a virus that suppresses the immune system of the cat. It is somewhat similar to HIV for people. The FIV is only transmitted to cats through a blood contact. This is the reason why FIV is also termed as the fighter cat virus. From the previous time, cats affected with this condition are not allowed to live with the other healthy pets around the house. In time, when the virus was studied well, they figured out that affected cats can get along with the other pets.

​This condition is manageable but usually misunderstood that FIV affects those unneutered cats ages 3 to 5 years old. FIV can be acquired via deep penetrating wounds. In this case, male cats have the higher risk of getting the illness due to fighting.

How is it Transmitted?

 cat and dog

​FIV can be found in one of the tissues of salivary glands. It is known that the major route of infection is through a deep bite in the wound from the infected cat. It is also possible to transmit the disease via blood, milk from an infected mother and in utero. It is usually rare for a cat to get the infection by just living along with the other animals like sharing food from the same bowls or when a human touch the infected cat and uninfected one.

​Also, the virus transmission in utero is also rare or even with the mother’s milk. However, it could be possible if the mother is already infected during the entire pregnancy or while nursing the kittens. As a matter of cat, infected mothers that turn into pregnancy usually gave birth to normal kittens.

How Common is FIV?

​This condition is very common worldwide, especially in domestic cats. It also affects other animals such as tigers, jaguars, lions, snow leopards, bobcats, Florida Panthers and more. Whilst the virus was first discovered in 1987, the experts agreed that the virus has existed for many years now. FIV is most common in outdoor cats or those that are free roaming cats. In the USA, the percentage of healthy cats that acquired the virus is about 1-2%.

​It is known that male cats are usually prone to getting infected with the disease compare to female cats. Free roaming cats are also high at risk since they are more likely to fight with other animals that lead to wound bite. Compare to FELV, the FIV condition is unusual in catteries since there are only a few cases of cat bite in the said location.

What are the common signs of FIV infection?

​There are no signs of FIV. However, infected cats usually develop a weak immune system so they are more susceptible to getting respiratory infections, dental disease and ringworm. Generally, FIV cats usually live a normal life and an average lifespan.

How Will I know if My Cat is Infected with FIV?

My Cat is Infected with FIV

​Pet owners usually don’t notice the signs of FIV so the only way to confirm if your pet is positive is by a blood test. The most common test for FIV is called ELISA or also known as the SNAP test which is done by your vet. The cat may be positive after 2-3 weeks of exposure but some can take up to 8 weeks. The following are some cases to which your cat is required to get tested again for these reasons:

  • ​If your cat is suffering from sickness despite the previous negative results. Signs of fever, inflammation of the mouth, diarrhea, stomatitis and vomiting can affect the result.
  • ​When a new cat is about to be adopted. Regardless of the cat’s age or if they will be living along with other pets at home, it should be tested for FIV before completely bringing it to your household.
  • ​When you have 2 or more cats living together with the infected one. Especially if one of your cats love to go outdoors without your supervision.
  • ​Exposure to an infected cat. If you think your pet is exposed to other infected cat and the test is negative, repeat the process after 60 days as recommended by your vet.
  • Kittens below 6 months old may also require getting tested for FIV especially after receiving the antibodies from their mothers or from milk. It usually takes about 6 months for the antibodies to subside. Moreover, it is recommended to have them tested again after reaching 6 months old.

What is the Treatment for FIV?

There is no other treatment available to eliminate FIV. Most infected cats can handle the disease on their own. In this case, it is important to treat the secondary infections that may occur. Talk to your vet about this.

What Can I do to Prevent the FIV?

cat toy

​The best thing you can do is to keep your cats indoor all the time so they won’t be able to fight with cats that are infected.

​Another thing is, there is a vaccine available for FIV. However, some experts do not suggest this because the vaccine does not offer the best effectiveness after it is being given.

Can Negative Cats live with FIV Positive?

Yes, as long as they do not fight and get along together. The risk of getting your uninfected cat can be minimized this way. Also, it would be better to put them in a separate room until you are completely sure that they will not fight with each other.

Can a Positive FIV Cats Live a Normal and Long Life?

Yes, infected cats can live normal lives and have a long life. As long as the pet owners take care of them, monitoring for possible signs of secondary infection or dental diseases, they are good to go. Always consult your vet for any unusual signs that may occur.