Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a lentivirus (an illness characterized by a delay in the onset of symptoms) in the same retrovirus family as Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), but the two differ in shape, size and genetics. The term ‘immunodeficiency’ refers to a weakened or compromised immune system.
FIV positive cats don’t usually show symptoms of the virus for many years. Once they do, the feline immunodeficiency virus often appears in the form of weight loss, a poor or dull coat, inflamed gums, lack of appetite, trouble with healing wounds… the symptoms are very similar to that of a human experiencing symptoms of HIV.
Because this illness attacks a the immune system, cats with FIV are at a higher risk of contracting other diseases – so nutritional therapy is highly recommended to help support the immune system. Feeding a quality diet that is high in animal protein, grain-free and low in carbohydrates is also necessary. It’s important to know that cats with FIV can live just as long as cats without the disease if given the right diet and nutrition with a little extra TLC.
Is FIV Contagious?
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is not as contagious as FeLV, though it can be transmitted from cat to cat. Most often it is transmitted through severe cat bites or wounds, but it is also possible for FIV to be passed from mother to kitten. It is rare and unlikely to see the virus spread through sharing food or water bowls.
How Do You Prevent FIV?
The only way to really prevent the virus is to keep your cat away from possibly infected and/or untested cats. Indoor cats are much less likely to contract FIV, even if living in a multi-cat household with a cats that tests positive for it. The vaccine for FIV is often ineffective and has been known to cause vaccine reactions that can be fatal; therefore, we do not recommend giving your cat this vaccine at all.
We promote natural, holistic and species-specific diets coupled with a supplemental routine for all cats – especially cats dealing with immunodeficient disorders. Even cats with FIV will experience very few health issues when following this protocol. The same rule that we humans give ourselves applies to all mammals – give the body the nutrients that it needs, and the body will heal itself.