5 things you need to know about Feline AIDS

Google Maps location for Riverport Veterinary Hospital

Riverport Veterinary Hospital
1 Avoca Street
SA 5214

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08 8555 5690

Victor Central Veterinary Clinic
35 Crozier Road
Victor Harbor
SA 5211

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08 7522 4300

So My Cat Can Get AIDS?

                Sure can…..and it’s more common than you might think.

So Tell Me More…

                Here are 5 things you need to know about Feline AIDS:

  1. Feline AIDS is caused by the FIV virus…very similar to the HIV virus that causes AIDS in people but the 2 viruses are NOT the same and FIV is NOT transmissible to people.
  2. The most common mode of transmission is through cat fights.  If your cat gets in a biffo with an FIV positive cat and gets bitten, there is a chance that your cat will pick up Feline AIDS.
  3.  In our local area around 22% of cats tested have been positive for the FIV virus.  We believe this number is likely to be a lot higher in feral cats and would love to test them all but that could be difficult…
  4. It is possible to vaccinate against Feline AIDS and we strongly encourage cat owners to do so.
  5. Feline AIDS is not a death sentence.  Many FIV positive cats can live happy lives.

Thanks for the overview but I need some specifics…like how do I stop my cat from getting AIDS?

                There are 2 ways you can reduce the risk of your cat(s) getting AIDS:

  1. Avoid contact with other (and particularly feral) cats.  This means keeping your cat inside at night and possibly even during the day.  Outdoor cat runs are a great idea
  2. Get your cat vaccinated.

How do I go about getting my cat vaccinated?

                Easy.  Give us a buzz and we can discuss your cat’s needs.  The vaccination protocol can vary depending on the age of your cat, whether she has been vaccinated before and whether she has been in cat fights.  In general cats over the age of 6 months will need a quick blood test before they can be vaccinated.  Then the vaccination is a series of 3 injections at 2-4 week intervals, with an annual booster after that.  All pretty simple and pain-free really…

Now I’m worried my cat may already have AIDS!  What should I do?

                Don’t stress.  Give us a buzz and we can sort out a blood test to find out if there might be a problem.

And if the test is positive?

                Again try not to stress.  In a similar way to the human AIDS virus, contracting the virus is not an immediate death sentence.  We have many feline patients that are FIV positive and living a full, happy life.  Sure, some of them eventually succumb to the disease but it can take some time (years even) for an FIV positive cat to develop full blown AIDS.  What we do recommend, however, is that you take measures to ensure that your cat does not pass the disease on to others in your neighbourhood.

What does AIDS look like?

                A cat with AIDS as a result of FIV infection will have a reduced immune system and will be less able to fight off bugs.  Typically we see patients with ongoing skin problems and mouth infections as well as other issues.

I think I understand the disease a bit better now, but why haven’t I heard about it before?

                Good question and I’m not sure why there hasn’t been much of an awareness campaign around Feline AIDS.  What I can say is that based on testing in South Australia and more importantly in our local area (we ran lots of tests thanks to the vaccine supplier’s support about 3 years ago), FIV is more common for cats in our area than in a lot of the country (and the world).  This might explain a general lack of education as many other areas have significantly more problems with other diseases.

 For more information log on to stopfiv.com.au

Thanks for reading and until next time...

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