F.I.V. – It’s Not Feline Leukemia, It’s Not Curable, and it’s Common in Cats

Testing cats for common diseases on annual intervals is becoming standard protocol in Florida. These include Feline Internal Organ Function Tests, Feline Leukemia Virus, Feline Heartworm, and Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) .

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is very similar to human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) that causes AIDS. This life threatening disease has no effective treatment and is non curable. It is a Lenti-Virus closely related to the Feline Leukemia Virus and occurs in about 2% of cats in the United States. About 5% of FIV positive cats also have Feline Leukemia. It is not transmitted to humans or dogs but is transmitted to other cats by saliva, primarily through cat bites. It may also be transmitted to kittens during birthing and nursing. Not every kitten born from an FIV queen can be infected. Cats infected with FIV may live for months or years. On average, life expectancy is 5 years from the time of diagnosis depending on how active the infection is. There is a FIV vaccination given twice initially, then yearly thereafter for outside cats or cats exposed to outside cats due to the potential of cat bites. This vaccine will help prevent FIV about 80% of the time.

Infected cats show a wide array of clinical signs. In most cases there is an ongoing wasting syndrome, losing up to 30% of body weight with generalized poor health. Because of the reduced immune system response they are extremely prone to all other diseases. The test most commonly used is the ELISA test for the FIV antibody. If this test result is positive then a confirmatory Western Blot test is recommended. Cats are tested on or after 15 weeks of age if there are no clinical signs of illness. After an infected bite wound it takes 8 to 12 weeks for antibodies to be produced for more accurate testing.

Infected cats can lengthen their life expectancy by being given immune stimulating medications, high quality diets, and placed in sanitary low stress environments. Because of the dysfunction of the immune system, infected cats are more likely to catch other diseases if they have contact with other cats. Since FIV is transmitted by bites from cat to cat it is important to keep infected cats isolated to minimize the spread disease.

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The vets and techs, even the receptionist, are all exceptionally friendly and professional. I really feel like they care about me and my pets. They... read more

Jordan G.

They were the nicest people. They diagnosed my Dog with allergies. The Dr came out to talk to me. Even called the next day to see how Dingo was. A... read more

Robin L.

They Love Buddha and Chai, and do everything they need at every visit. Everyone is Great with our dogs. We get the best treatment... read more

Carolyn S.

Went to Prima Vista Animal Hospital two times with my puppy Buffy. The staff is just amazing, caring, and very informative. Thank you... read more

Jasmine P.

Prima Vista Animal is the Best animal hospital we have found in St. Lucie! We needed to get both of my dogs vaccinated the same day so they could go... read more

Tisa K.

Jordan G.

The vets and techs, even the receptionist, are all exceptionally friendly and professional. I really feel like they care about me and my pets. They took great care of my cat, even with curbside service. They were personable and empathetic and the vet came out to my car personally to let me know what she thought and to listen to my concerns. They took into consideration what I had to say and looked into my concerns. They were thorough and quick to jump onto any concerns they had to get ahead of any issues, especially since my cat is older now. I’m so glad I chose to come to Prima Vista for my cat’s care.

Robin L.

They were the nicest people. They diagnosed my Dog with allergies. The Dr came out to talk to me. Even called the next day to see how Dingo was. A new wonderful vet for my dog.

Carolyn S.

They Love Buddha and Chai, and do everything they need at every visit. Everyone is Great with our dogs. We get the best treatment there.

Jasmine P.

Went to Prima Vista Animal Hospital two times with my puppy Buffy. The staff is just amazing, caring, and very informative. Thank you guys

Tisa K.

Prima Vista Animal is the Best animal hospital we have found in St. Lucie! We needed to get both of my dogs vaccinated the same day so they could go to the kennel before we left to go on vacation, the next day. I called. They made sure that they fit us in with absolutely no notice at all! They were so kind.

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