Many people are fearful when they hear that a cat has FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), mainly because of the association it has with the human AIDS virus. However, with education comes better understanding and in much the same way as human HIV has now been put into perspective, much is being done to ensure that cats who suffer from FIV not only live relatively healthy lives, but they are cared for by loving families.
What is FIV
Put simply, FIV is a virus that prevents the cat from being able to fight off infection. This virus attacks the white blood cells that are needed for a healthy immune system. It is NOT transferable from cat to human or cat to any animal except another cat. It is spread in a similar way to the human HIV, by physical contact and the exchange of fluids, although with humans this tends to be through sexual contact, with cats it is through biting. An infected cat may bite a healthy cat in a fight, or indeed an infected Tom cat may infect the female by biting the neck during mating.
The virus is spread mainly through feral cats fighting and/or mating with domestic cats.
Cats with FIV
FIV in itself does not make a cat ill and therefore a cat that has the virus can live for as long as a cat without the disease in many cases. However an FIV cat has to become a house cat and cannot be allowed outside. The reason for this is two-fold. Clearly a cat with FIV is capable of infecting any cat it may come into physical contact with, but also just as important is the fact that an FIV cat can be infected by cats, foxes or any other viruses it may come across if it were allowed to roam free. A simple scratch from a tree branch may prove fatal for an FIV cat.
People Who Adopt FIV Cats
The families that adopt FIV cats are not particularly special people. But they are people who understand the illness and are prepared to take the necessary precautions to help keep their cat healthy for as long as possible. Even after taking all the precautions, your FIV cat may become ill. With dedicated care, the cat may recover, but this will not be so in every case. Remember FIV is not a fatal disease and is not as highly contagious as rumour would suggest. In fact, there are more FIV cats that become ill through interaction with other cats than the other way round, so by keeping your FIV cat indoors you are mainly protecting your cat from other cats, and therefore advice should be sought if you already have an outdoor cat, as to whether it is possible to have an FIV cat also.
A cat that has FIV is capable of giving the same love and devotion as that of any other cat. It is a sad fact however that cats with FIV die, not from the virus, or even illness caused by the virus, but by being put down because no-one will give them a loving home. If you want a house cat, consider giving a loving home to an FIV cat.
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This guest post was written by Jason Balchand, a pet lover who shares his knowledge through his blog at Online Pet Accessories. Connect with his though Facebook and Twitter to read more of his pet care tips.