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The Pet Directory Cat Articles - FIV and What It Means To You...

Article supplied by Marcus Gunew
As published in The Pet Directory QLD, NT & WA Edition

A large number of cats in Brisbane are infected with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) and it causes the death of many cats that we see each year. Recently a vaccine against FIV has become available in Australia, which is a major break through.

FIV cannot be transferred to humans, but acts in the same way as the human form HIV, destroying the immune system and leaving the cat susceptible to infections. Once a cat has become infected, FIV can then progress to feline acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (feline AIDS).

FIV is spread primarily through bite wounds inflicted while fighting, making outdoor cats and tomcats much more susceptible. Up to 50% of entire male cats (tomcats) are positive for FIV, which puts our domestic cats at a huge risk when venturing outside the house.

As with HIV there is no known cure, so prevention is the only way to attack spread of the virus. We recommend that all cats that go outside, even for short periods, should be vaccinated against FIV. As the virus is transmitted during fights, there is no need to vaccinate indoor only cats.

Infection with FIV is very common in Brisbane,
even in cats that appear healthy

As with all vaccines, the FIV vaccine is not 100% effective, but it still does an excellent job and protects 82% of vaccinated cats from FIV. If your cat falls into the small group in which the vaccine is not effective and does contract FIV after being vaccinated, we will not be able to detect the infection with the currently available tests, as they test for antibodies and not the virus itself.

The vaccine is administered as an initial series of three doses, two to four weeks apart. The vaccine will aid on the prevention of FIV for a period of 12 months, at which time a booster is required. The vaccine may cause your cat to be off colour for a few days after vaccination, but reactions are usually mild and thankfully are uncommon.

As infection with FIV is very common in Brisbane, even in cats that appear healthy, a blood test should be done to make sure your cat is free from the FIV before vaccination. This test only takes a few minutes and can be performed while you wait. It is recommended that your cat be microchipped (if it already isn’t) when getting vaccinated for FIV. This will allow us to know your cat was free of the virus before vaccinating, as it will show up positive to the current tests after vaccination. The FIV vaccine can be administered at the same time as your cat’s regular ‘flu’ vaccines and is readily available at most veterinary clinics. We strongly recommend that any cat that goes outside be vaccinated against FIV (cat AIDS).

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