The virus is present in large quantities in cat’s saliva & the most common mode of transmission is via bite wounds. Free roaming; entire male cats are at greater risk as they are more likely to become involved in territorial fighting.
Occasionally FIV is passed onto kittens in utero or via their mother’s milk
Cats don’t become infected via mutual grooming but the biting that goes along with mating may pass on the virus.
Your own cats & others outside are at risk of catching this disease there is no cure for FIV, once a cat has it, it’s for life.
If you have an FIV positive cat from a young age they can live for many years following the guidelines below.
The problem we face daily is village or feral cats which have never been vaccinated, often they have had poor diets & a harsh life. Prognosis is therefore poor particularly in older cats we find roaming with the later stage of this disease. Once these cats reach stage three (kidney failure/cancers/repeated infections) we do not have the resources to provide long term treatment & support.
In addition we also have a duty to actively try & reduce transmission of this appalling disease & prevent further suffering so sadly where the disease is advanced our policy is to humanely euthanize if a test is positive for FIV or FeLV (Feline Leukaemia Virus).
If you choose to take on a cat with FIV long term you will need to do the following:
- To limit exposure to disease & potential to infect others including your own cats FIV positive cats must for the rest of their lives be kept indoors & away from neighbourhood or stray cats.
- If you decide to allow your FIV positive cat to mix indoors with your other cats (some people do) they must all be fully vaccinated & be aware they will still be at risk of catching the disease should they be bitten or scratched.
- If fit for anaesthetic they must be neutered.
- Veterinary checks once a month with a blood test to check for infection/kidney function.
- Maintain parasite control monthly (flea/worm).
- Ensure that prompt veterinary attention is sought at the first sign of illness or infection.
- Feed a high quality veterinary diet most require Royal Canin Renal diet at the very least.
- Use of anti-bacterial & anti-fungal drugs to prevent opportunistic infections.
- Blood transfusions may be necessary in Stage 3 of FIV.
- High calorie feed supplements may be necessary in Stage 3 of FIV.
- Be aware the risk of cancers developing is very high.