Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

000006580997 ExtraSmallYou may not be aware that there is a virus of cats that can lead to a serious and potentially fatal disease, Feline AIDS, transferred between cats by cat fighting wounds. 

  • The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) which causes Feline AIDS lives in cat saliva and is transferred by bite wounds.
  • It is estimated that around 7-14% of cats may be carrying the virus. Franklin Vets has tested 50 at risk cats and  found 10% to be infected
  • Your cat can contract FIV infection during a cat fight.  To know whether or not your cat has contracted FIV we can perform a simple blood test.  This test cannot be performed immediately after the fight because it takes 2 months for the body to respond to produce the markers which can be detected by the blood test. 
  • Two months after a fight we can test for the presence of FIV. It takes just 15 minutes to collect a very small amount of blood and run the test in-house.
  • Cats born to infected mothers will have detectable FIV antibodies until the age of about 6 months. There is a separate blood test to differentiate these cats that have antibodies but no virus, from those who actually have the infection.
  • If your cat is negative, your options are to do nothing (and hope he/she never meets the virus), or you could restrict your cat to being an indoors-only cat (so that he/she never meets another cat), or you could use Fel-O-Vax FIV vaccine. This vaccine provides protection against two strains of FIV, one of which is present in New Zealand. It is considered highly likely that there is also cross-over protection from these two strains to the second strain present in this country. Estimates of protection given by this vaccine are around 85-90%, but this is currently unproven.
  • There is no cure or successful treatment for Feline AIDS, only prevention.  Vaccination with Fel-O-Vax involves a course of three injections followed by annual booster vaccinations. Microchipping is also recommended at the time of vaccination.

If you have any questions regarding Feline AIDS and the vaccination, please don’t hesitate to ask our veterinary or nursing staff.