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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

By: Dr. Debra Primovic

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Optimal treatment for your cat requires a combination of home and professional veterinary care. Follow-up is crucial. Follow-up veterinary care for FIV often includes the following recommendations:

  • Administer any medications by your veterinarian as directed.

  • Contact your veterinarian promptly if you are having trouble treating your cat.

  • Contact your veterinarian if your cat develops any new symptoms or if existing symptoms worsen.

  • Carefully observe your cat's appetite and general activity level. These are quality of life issues important to you and your cat.

  • Examine and monitor your cat's gum color, urination, defection, and lymph node size. Your veterinarian can show you where the superficial lymph nodes are located and how to palpate them.

    Use the "Test and Remove" program, which is a method to eliminate FIV-infected cats in a cattery or a multiple-cat household. The principles of this program are as follows:

  • Do not bring any new cats into the household.

  • Remove all FIV-positive, sick cats from the household.

  • Quarantine all FIV-positive cats to one area in the household. They should have no contact with FIV-negative cats in the household.

  • Disinfect all bedding, food and water dishes, litter pans, and toys. Bedding, food and food dishes, water bowls, litter pans, and toys used by FIV-positive cats never should be used by FIV-negative cats.

  • Test all remaining untested cats in the household for FIV.

  • Quarantine all FIV-negative cats to one area. Retest these cats in three months. If they are negative at that time, they are considered free of FIV.

  • Quarantine and test all new cats that enter the household and isolate them from other cats in the household for three months. Re-test these cats after three months. If negative on re-testing, these cats are considered free of FIV.

  • Cats are considered free of infection when two negative test results separated by three months have been obtained.

  • Retest all FIV-positive cats. Cats that test negative for FIV after having testing positive on the first test should remain isolated. Re-testing should be carried out after 3 additional months.

  • Actual follow-up depends on the severity of your cat's disease, response to therapy, your veterinarian's recommendations and your own views.

  • There is now a vaccine available to help reduce the risk of acquiring FIV. Discuss the use of this vaccine in at-risk cats with your veterinarian.

    Please note: Positive titers to FIV can occur from some vaccinations. This can produce a positive test result. If your cat tests positive to FIV and is NOT sick, please determine if your cat has been vaccinated recently. Titers to the vaccine can occur for up to 13 months after vaccination.


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