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Health and Wellness

Humane Society of Walden, NY 845-778-5115

Cinnamon with board president Jean

FIV is the feline equivalent to HIV in humans. It is not cross species contagious nor is it highly contagious between felines.

FIV is a lentivirus that affects domesticated housecats worldwide and is the causative agent of feline AIDS. From 2.5% up to 4.4% of cats worldwide are infected with FIV, which is closely related to the human immunodeficiency virus HIV.

FIV is the only non-primate lentivirus to cause an AIDS-like syndrome. FIV is not typically fatal for cats - they can live relatively long and healthy lives as carriers and transmitters of the disease for many years.

A vaccine is available although its efficacy remains uncertain, and cats will test positive for FIV antibodies after vaccination.

The primary modes of FIV transmission are deep bite wounds and scratches, where the infected cat's saliva enters the other cat's bloodstream. FIV may also be transmitted from pregnant females to their offspring in utero.

Veterinarians will check a cat's history, look for clinical signs, and possibly administer a blood test for FIV antibodies - testing is readily available. It should be noted that this testing identifies those cats that carry the FIV antibody, and does not detect the actual virus.

False positives occur when the cat carries the antibody (which is harmless), but does not carry the actual virus. The most frequent occurrence of this is when kittens are tested after ingesting the antibodies from mother's milk, and when testing cats that have been previously vaccinated for FIV. For this reason, neither kittens under 8 weeks nor cats that have been previously vaccinated are tested.

Cinnamon is one of our adoptable shelter cats who tested positive for FIV (click photo for more info about Cinnamon)

Kittens and young cats that test positive for the FIV antibody may test negative at a later time due to seroreversion, provided they have never been infected with FIV and have never been immunized with the FIV vaccine.

Cats that have been vaccinated will test positive for the FIV antibody for the rest of their life due to seroconversion, even though they are not infected. Therefore, testing of strays or adopted cats is inconclusive, since it is impossible to know whether or not they have been vaccinated in the past. For these reasons, a positive FIV antibody test by itself should never be used as a criterion for euthanasia.

Tests can be performed in a vet's office with results in minutes, allowing for quick consultation. Early detection helps maintain the cat's health and prevents spreading infection to other cats. With proper care, infected cats can live long and healthy lives.

From Wikipedia

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Serving the Hudson Valley: Walden, Montgomery, Crawford, Maybrook, Pine Bush, Ellenville, Mamakating, Kerhonkson, and Town of Shawangunk, in Orange County, New York