What is FIV?
FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retroviral infection similar to HIV in humans. FIV is spread primarily through bite wounds. This virus leads to long term immune suppression. Cats with this virus are more prone to a variety of infections, are prone to immune related disease, and are at higher risk of some cancers, especially lymphoma. There is currently no specific treatment or cure for FIV.
How common is FIV in Melbourne?
The incidence of FIV is about 26% in outdoor cats in Victoria. The incidence in higher in stray and feral cats.
Which cats are at risk of FIV?
All outdoor cats are a risk of exposure to FIV.
A single bite from a strange cat can lead to lifelong infection.
Cats living in a household alongside another cat known to have FIV may be at a higher risk of contracting this virus. It depends upon how well the cats get along. Harmonious households are less likely to have spread of disease, as bite wounds are required for spread
How do I know if my cat has FIV?
There are many blood tests available to easily test your cat for FIV. The in clinic test that we use is very
reliable, and takes 10 minutes for results, so we can test your cat while you wait. If your cat has been in a
fight, we recommend waiting 6 weeks before testing. The test is checking for an immune reaction to the virus,and it takes a while for this reaction to be detectable.
What happens if my cat has FIV?
Just because a cat is FIV positive does not mean it is currently suffering illness from the virus. There is no
specific treatment given to FIV positive cats. Knowing that you cat is FIV positive is important in their long
term management. These cats may require different treatment plans if they do become ill for any reason.
Can I protect my cat from FIV?
A vaccine is available which provides good protection from FIV. It initially requires a series of 3 injections given 2-4 weeks apart. After the initial course boosters are require annual to maintain protection. All adult cats need to be tested prior commencing FIV vaccine. Due to how common FIV virus is in Australia, we strongly recommend FIV vaccination for all cats that go outdoors, or live with a known FIV positive cat. It is particularly important to stay up to date with this vaccination. Cats that are more than 6 months overdue are not protected. These cats will need to be retested before booster vaccines are given, and will need to restart their initial course of 3 injections.
During the months of October and November we are offering 50% of FIV testing. Call the clinic to schedule an appointment for your cat to have an FIV test performed.