Preventing Transmission of Feline AIDS

Preventing transmission of feline AIDS by getting your cat vaccinated and keeping her from fighting will help her enjoy a long life of good health. Understanding how the virus is transmitted will help you take preventative measures.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Cat AIDS, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is similar to the AIDS virus that is threatening to humans. They are similar in infection symptoms and effects, but each virus is species specific, so FIV effects felines only. The virus usually stays dormant in the cat for awhile, possibly years. Symptoms of infection are respiratory and gum infections, diarrhea, and recurrent discomfort from abscesses. The virus leads to organ failure and death.

The virus can be transmitted from parent to offspring. The mother can transmit ample amounts of virus to her kittens if she is infected while pregnant or nursing. A test for the virus will identify whether or not the kitten is FIV-positive.

Bite wounds from cat fights are the primary means of transmitting FIV. Since the virus is passed by blood and saliva, outdoor cats and cats who get involved in cat fighting or scratching are at a higher risk of contracting the disease. Cats sharing food, dishes and water bowls might also more likely to become infected through saliva, although those chances are low.

Preventing Transmission

A vaccination against FIV has been developed and implemented. However, many vets have recently shied away from using the vaccine because of a possible connection to cancerous tumors that form around the spot of injection. Some pet owners find that neutering male cats will prevent aggression that leads to fights and bite wounds.

Keeping your cat indoors and away from stray, aggressive and infected cats will also greatly reduce risk of infection. Aggressive cats may start fights that result in deep wounds, leaving the cat vulnerable to the virus, carried by the infected attacking cat. Additionally, keeping your cat isolated from other infected cats will prevent transmission through food or wounds.

As with any other infection, keeping the immune system at a constant high will help hold a virus at bay. Most cats who die from FIV develop secondary infections that result from a devastated immune system. While a strong immune system may not be strong enough to withstand FIV, it will help prevent further infection and give your cat a greater chance at living a long healthy life, even with FIV.

The most effective way of preventing FIV transmission is by keeping your cat indoors and away from infected cats. Felines are not susceptible to HIV, but can be infected by other cats carrying FIV. Also test your cat yearly for FIV.