The FIV Diagnosis
The initial test was the ELISA, which test both for FIV antibodies and FeLV. Since there can be false positives with the ELISA test, an initial positive for FIV can be followed up by a laboratory test, such as the Western Blot test, which confirms that antibodies to FIV are present in the blood.
FIV is Not a Mandatory Death Sentence
It is important to realize that a positive test for FIV is not a mandatory death sentence. With a high protein diet and aggressive treatment of secondary infections, an FIV-positive cat can lead a reasonably normal life span. Feline immunodeficiency virus infection does not lead to acquired immunodeficiency syndrome in cats as often as human immunodeficiency virus leads to AIDS in people.
What is FIV and How is it Transmitted?
FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a retrovirus in the same family as the human AIDS virus, with a few significant differences. It is estimated that in the United States, 2% of cats are infected with the FIV virus. Saliva to blood (biting) is generally accepted as the primary source of spreading the virus, and it is unlikely (but not impossible) that cats will spread FIV by drinking or eating out of the same food dish, or by mutual grooming. It is not surprising that outdoor cats are particularly susceptible to the virus, and the best way to prevent infection with FIV is to ensure that your cat stays indoors only, which eliminates the possibility of contact with FIV cats. Another less common means of transmission is from the mother cat (Queen) to her kittens during gestation, during birth, or by nursing. There is comfort in the fact that not all FIV queens pass the virus on to their kittens. This phenomenon is not fully understood, but all kittens from FIV mothers should be tested for the FIV antibodies after six months.
What’s Next After an FIV Diagnosis?
If your cat has been diagnosed as FIV-positive with no other symptoms, and is in otherwise generally good health, this might simply be a matter of ensuring he/she gets a sound diet, possibly with added vitamins, antioxidants, and Omega 3/Omega 6 fatty acids as well as prompt, aggressive treatment of infections and other conditions as they crop up. Even flea control is important, as fleas transmit a number of other parasites such as the Haemabartonella. Also, flea bites themselves can become infected, which would be a cause for concern.
The FIV Diagnosis