FIV Vaccines – Just Say NO!

Your vet offers to vaccinate your cat for FIV. You think “well, sure, why not? Vaccines are great!” NO! Your cat should NEVER be vaccinated for FIV!

First, let me make myself clear – I love vaccines. Vaccines are wonderful things that prevent a number of very serious illnesses, and they are essential in eradicating deadly diseases. However, there are several excellent reasons why your cat should never receive the FIV vaccine (and the AAFP – American Association of Feline Practitioners – agrees):

1. Current tests for FIV cannot distinguish between a cat vaccinated for FIV and one infected with FIV. Once vaccinated, your cat will test positive for FIV for the rest of their lives.

2. We’re not sure exactly how effective the FIV vaccine is anyway. The manufacturer claims it’s abut 80% effective, but other studies have found it’s only about 50% effective at preventing FIV infection.

3. Indoor cats that have been spayed or neutered have almost no chance of contracting FIV anyway. FIV is most commonly spread through very deep bite wounds (like the kind seen between unneutered stray male cats).

OK, that’s all well and good, but so what? My vet and I would know that my cat was vaccinated for FIV. What’s the worst that could happen?

Imagine if your cat slipped out the door and got lost. She’s picked up and taken to the local county shelter, where she tests positive for FIV. Ideally, she is reunited with you, but realistically, most owners are never found. If she’s lucky, a rescue group like Calvin’s Paws will be able to take her in and put her up for adoption. Since we wouldn’t know her history, we would have to list her as FIV positive, and it would likely take a long time to get her adopted. If she’s unlucky, she would be euthanized at the shelter upon testing positive. This is the unfortunate fate that awaits most FIV+ cats that find themselves at a shelter.

The possible consequences of vaccinating your cat against FIV far outweighs the actual risk of your cat contracting and becoming ill with FIV. If a test that can differentiate between an FIV-infected cat and an FIV-vaccinated cat ever becomes available, then maybe the FIV vaccination recommendation would change. Until then, JUST SAY NO!

Click here to read the 2013 AAFP Vaccination Guidelines: http://www.catvets.com/guidelines/practice-guidelines/feline-vaccination-guidelines

Mikael is proof that you can  live a happy, active life with FIV
   Mikael is proof that you can live a happy, active life with FIV
Madre has FIV and is living a very happy, very active life
Madre has FIV and is living a very happy, very active life

Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

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FIV Vaccines – Just Say NO!

Testing for FIV and FeLV – What the Tests Can and Cannot Tell Us

Why testing is not the end-all-be-all of retrovirus management in cats.

by Brittany Roth, Calvin’s Paws Medical Care Coordinator and FIV/Felv Advisor

It seems simple enough – you go to the vet with your new furry friend, and the vet recommends testing her for the two common retroviruses in cats – FIV and FeLV (for the difference between the two viruses and more information, read our previous blog post here). You get the test results back, and they’re either positive or negative, and that’s that, right? Well, not really.

Why not?

A positive test result may indicate that your cat has one of the two viruses…but it might not. How can this be? There are two main factors that play into this: the age of the cat or kitten and the virus that they’re testing positive for.

Kittens

As we explained in our previous blog post, My Kitten has FIV, any kitten younger than 6 months testing positive for FIV most likely does NOT actually have the virus. The test for FIV looks for antibodies to the virus, not the actual virus itself. Kittens get antibodies from their mother while they are nursing, so if the mom has antibodies to FIV, she can pass those on to the kittens. Once the maternal antibodies clear out of the kitten’s system, the kitten will test negative.

The test for FeLV looks for an antigen (protein on the surface of the virus) of FeLV. A kitten testing positive for FeLV is a little trickier, but still not a sure thing. Yes, mothers can pass the virus on to their kittens in the womb or after birth, but just because a kitten gets a few virus particles in their system does not mean it will definitely become persistently infected. Kittens born to positive mothers should be separated from mom as soon as safely possible (6 weeks or so) and retested at 3-6 months of age. We have had several cases (including one just this year!) where kittens testing faint FeLV+ later cleared it from their system and tested negative within about 2 months.

FIV+ versus FeLV+

Adults testing positive are a somewhat different story, depending on which virus they’re testing positive for. Adults testing positive for FIV are usually actually infected, but a second test should ALWAYS be performed to rule out test error. If a cat tests positive with Calvin’s Paws, we always immediately do a second test, and then retest the cat in a month. If all tests agree that the cat is positive, then the cat is probably positive. But here’s the kicker – as mentioned above, tests for FIV look for antibodies to the virus, and current tests can’t tell the difference between an infected cat and a cat that was vaccinated for FIV! So even if all tests agree that your adult cat is positive for FIV, there is still no way to determine if he actually has the virus itself.

Adult Cats

Adults testing positive for FeLV simply cannot be diagnosed with FeLV based on one test. FeLV is a very complex virus and is still not well understood. When a cat is exposed to FeLV, there are 3 possible outcomes:

  1. Some cats will not be infected due to inadequate exposure and a good immune response. These cats may initially test positive for FeLV after exposure, but will test negative once they clear the virus from their system.
  2. Some cats will develop a latent or regressive infection; these cats will not be able to destroy all of the virus, but will be able to hold it in check. The virus integrates into the cat’s own DNA but is not active. These cats show no signs of infection and usually do not shed virus in their saliva or other body secretions. However, the infection can later become active again, especially if the cat becomes stressed or immunocompromised. These cats may or may not ever test positive, depending on when they are tested.
  3. Some cats will become persistently infected; these cats will not develop an adequate immune response and will remain permanently infected with FeLV. This is called a progressive infection. These cats will shed large amounts of virus in their saliva and often develop FeLV-associated diseases within a few years. These cats should always test positive.

If a cat is tested only once for FeLV and comes up positive, it doesn’t tell you much. One positive test does not tell you which of the 3 outcomes above that the cat will have – they might be able to clear the virus completely, they might suppress it and never have symptoms, or yes, they might actually be persistently infected. To actually diagnose a cat with FeLV, you must do more testing. When an adult cat tests FeLV+ in Calvin’s Paws, we immediately repeat the in-house test to rule out test error. If that is also positive, we then take blood and send it off for an IFA lab test – this gives us a better picture of the stage of the disease. If the IFA test is also positive, it means that outcome #1, clearing the virus completely, is extremely unlikely, and we can officially diagnose the cat with FeLV. If the IFA test is negative, it means that the cat is still in the stage of infection where they might be able to fight the virus off completely. In this case, we isolate the cat and retest them in one month. Theoretically, you keep retesting until the test results agree, but it is possible for a cat to have an atypical infection and consistently have discordant results on the in-house test and IFA test. This is the case with one of our FeLV cats, Ice Dream, who has been with us since 2007 and STILL tests positive on the in-house test and negative on the IFA test.

25703178_ice_dream

But if my cat is negative and has ALWAYS been negative, then he’s negative, right?

Not necessarily. Remember outcome #2, where cats can have a latent or regressive infection? If cats have a regressive infection, their immune system has cleared all traces of the virus from the blood, but the virus’ DNA has integrated into the cat’s own DNA, which the immune system can’t do anything about. These cats will test negative on the in-house tests AND the IFA lab test! The only way to identify them is through a PCR test, which looks for FeLV DNA and magnifies any fragments it finds until it’s at a detectable level. Because PCR technology is relatively new, there is still a lot of ongoing research on what the results of it mean in terms of the health of a cat. We do know that regressive infections can become active again if the cat is stressed or immunosuppressed, but there is very little data on how often this happens. The most current research has found that somewhere between 5% and 10% of cats that test negative for FeLV actually test positive on a PCR test, indicating a possible regressive infection.

Aside from all of this, tests cannot detect infections immediately after exposure. If a cat was recently exposed to either virus (less than a month or so before testing), they may test negative simply because they were tested too soon after exposure. Then when you take into account the fact that the tests themselves do have a known error rate for both false positives and false negatives…well, you can see why interpreting tests gets tricky.

In conclusion, a positive test result does not always mean the cat has the virus, and a negative test result does not always mean the cat does not have the virus. This doesn’t mean that testing isn’t worth doing – it just means that testing should be a starting point, not the one and only step of retrovirus management. Unfortunately, many shelters (and even vets!) treat each individual test as undeniable fact, and the results of that test are literally life-or-death.


Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

Testing for FIV and FeLV – What the Tests Can and Cannot Tell Us

Chase – An FIV Adoption Success Story

Years ago before I was a volunteer/foster Mom for a Rescue group, my daughter wanted a cat for her Birthday. We had just moved into a rental home and I DID NOT want any animals.

Chase
Chase

She literally forced me to go see this beautiful cat at Petsmart. I did, and fell in Love through the glass window. I read his BIO and was concerned that it said he was special needs having FIV. I had no idea what FIV was and I knew that I would not be able to afford a cat that needed a lot of medical attention. I asked the Vet on duty at Banfield what all is involved with this condition. They were very helpful by telling me all about FIV and gave me information to take home and read about. I decided to adopt the kitty cat after I felt I would not be in over my head with Vet bills. I knew he should not be allowed outside ever and he can spread the virus to another cat if he were to cause a DEEP bite, he needs no special food, humans and dogs cannot catch this virus, he can live a normal life and nobody would ever know that he is FIV positive, not even he knows.

I did try an adopt another FIV kitty for Chase to have a friend, but those kitties were not the right fit for me. Chase was fine with any friend!!! Then one day a friend from work needed to rehome her male gold cat named George real fast. So, I brought him home and they were BFF’s!!!! They were so good to each other and played and never any big arguments.

I hope that people are educated about FIV cats and know that they are just as normal as any other cat and live a normal life.

Today, 5 years later we still have Chase and he is what we call our Cat/Dog. He is playful and loving to our dogs and any foster dog that comes in the house.

Chase and friend


Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

Chase – An FIV Adoption Success Story

FIV is not Feline AIDS

We hear it all the time about FIV: “FIV…that’s feline AIDS, right?” No.

Why not?

First of all, a positive test for FIV doesn’t even mean a cat DEFINITELY has FIV, let alone AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome). Remember that the current tests for FIV test for antibodies to FIV, which means that if a cat has previously been vaccinated for FIV, it will test positive on the current tests. There is no way to tell the difference between an infected cat and a vaccinated cat.

Aside from the fact that the cat might not even have the virus, even if the cat DOES have FIV, there are different stages of the infection

– Stage 1: After initial infection with FIV, a cat may appear mildly ill (fever, lethargy, swollen lymph nodes, etc.). The cat’s body fights the virus, and they typically progress to stage 2.

– Stage 2: In this phase of infection, cats are usually completely healthy, showing no signs of the virus and living a normal life. This stage can and does last for many years.

– Stage 3: This is the terminal stage of the virus where the virus has depleted the immune system enough that the immune system can no longer properly fight off other infections. This is the stage that could appropriately be compared to AIDS. However, this stage usually takes many years to develop, and it may not even develop at all!

Some vets still make this error and refer to FIV as “Feline AIDS.” If your vet says “Feline AIDS,” get a new vet or recommend they educate themselves on the subject.

The Conclusion

FIV is not the same thing as Feline AIDS. Feline AIDS refers to the final, terminal stages of disease that can be caused by FIV, but not all cats with FIV develop AIDS. If cats do progress to the terminal stage, it usually happens over many many years, which is why FIV typically does not shorten the lifespan of a cat.

No cat should EVER be euthanized or lose their home simply because they test positive for FIV. Cats with FIV will live long, healthy lives and typically con’t require extra care.

Holly Hobby is one of Calvin's Paws FIV+ rescues. She is a very loving cat who loves laps and always wants to be near her human.
Holly Hobby is one of Calvin’s Paws FIV+ rescues. She is a very loving cat who loves laps and always wants to be near her human.

Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

 

FIV is not Feline AIDS

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

by Teri P

I went to Petsmart on the idea I would donate to Calvins’ Paws on behalf of my cat Cheetah who had passed away a few months before. She was 19 and lived a good long life. I missed her deeply, but felt I needed to pay forward some of what she was able to give me.

Then I saw this:

Mr Big

Oh crap. I wasn’t there to adopt, I wasn’t, I WAS NOT. He was just looking out the window in the adoption room and I swear I heard “Whazzup” from that gorgeous face. OMG is this dude HANDSOME! I was in love already. I read the tag attached to his kennel “Mr. Big” was his name, charm was his game. A big fluffy, green eyed love bug. I think he knew already we were destined to be together. We both heard the violins!

He was listed as special needs, FIV in fact. Wait WHAT?!?!? FIV?! That sounds a lot like HIV. What’s this all about. Special needs indeed I thought. There he was, the love of my life (in fur terms of course) and he’s got a bad disease?!?!? NOOOOOOO!!!!

I’ll admit, I freaked a little. What does this mean to his life expectancy, his health, my health, his care, special meds, food, diet, exercise…was I looking at a bubble boy in cat form?

But you don’t understand, I LOVE him already! He’s MY guy, what am I going to do?!

The thought NEVER crossed my mind to NOT adopt him. Oh he was mine, we were ours, you’re coming home with me buddy, but info, I needed info.

Onto the website I went. Whoa…check out all the info on Calvin’s Paws about FIV. I read and reread, asked about 1.2 million questions, read some more.

Will it shorten his life? No

Does he require special meds? No

Special food? No (just lots of food, dude is BIG!)

Can he go outside? No (for the record, my other cat never did, and lived to be 19 so yeah, you’re inside buddy boy)

Is he going to be ‘sick’ all the time? No

Can I catch this? No

Can he spread this? Yes and no…yes, if he bites another cat deep in the muscle. No cuz he’d never do that (he’s a gentleman) and he’s indoors

Can my other cats catch this? Not through casual contact or use of same litterbox, food or water dishes.

What about a dog, can a dog catch this? No, no interspecies jumping does this disease do.

Do I clean the litter box differently? No, just more often cuz dude is BIG!

What else should I know? Lysine helps boost the immune system, give him a treat with Lysine to help him out. Make sure if he gets the sniffles, he sees the vet so anything is brought under control quickly. Regular vet checks and watch his teeth, they might start hurting him as he gets older.

Will he train me in under a week where I will do his bidding whenever he feels I need to? YES

Will be beg for treats like Puss N Boots with those giant eyes and watch me crack under pressure? YES

Will he burp and fart and demand belly rubs and to sit in the sunshine? Hell yes!

Will he take up the majority of a queen sized bed without batting an eyelash at me? YESSIR

Ok, I felt better, questions were answered and I filled out the application. Please oh PLEASE let this go through! He’s my boy, we cannot be kept apart. Then I got the best phone call ever

“When are you coming to pick up your new baby?”

WOOHOOOOOOO!!!! Here I come Handsome!

I ‘may’ have exceeded speed limits to get to Petsmart, but let’s move on. I did the proper signing, oaths (I promise to not declaw you, give you daily brushes, rub your Buddha belly when asked, kiss your forehead and cheeks far too many times a day and love you unconditionally forever and ever amen), got Lysine recommendations, bought some food, treats, litterbox, water and food bowls. We were OUTTA there!! The cardboard pet carrier was too small for my robust guy, he got out and rode in my lap all the way home, purring the whole time. This is what it’s like, this love at first sight thing. Sigh. I will love him and pet him and call him Bunny! He adapted to his new home in an HOUR. No kidding, an hour.

During his time with me, until his passing in November of 2014, he had a few sniffles here and there, but that was it. He was a lovely, sweet, generous cat (generous with his love) and gave me smiles and laughs and love. He was truly the best. In my heart I know this…FIV+ cats just KNOW. They take NOTHING for granted. They appreciate everything, they give more than they receive, they are loving and kind and happy babies. Every. Single. One.

Had I the chance to do this all over again, same outcome, I would.

And guess what, he KNOWS I would. Cuz, FIV+ babies, they KNOW.

Bunny Relaxing

To read more about Bunny’s adventures and the life he led, please check out his personal blog at http://bunnyboy-terip.blogspot.com.


Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

 

The Beginning of a Beautiful Friendship

FIV versus Feline Leukemia

The difference between the two most common retroviruses in cats.

by Brittany Roth, Calvin’s Paws Medical Care Coordinator and FIV/Felv Advisor

In response to our last post about FIV testing in kittens (link here), we got the question:

FIV is another name for Feline Leukemia, right?

No, FIV and FeLV are most definitely NOT the same thing. FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, while FeLV is the Feline Leukemia Virus.

The two viruses are commonly confused because they are both retroviruses that infect cats. A retrovirus is a type of virus that causes disease by inserting itself into the genome (DNA) of its host. The most famous retrovirus is HIV, Human Immunodeficiency Virus, but not all retroviruses are the same. There are several different types of retroviruses that have different effects on the organisms that they infect. These different types of retroviruses are related, but not the same.

To understand what this looks like, think of your own family. In your family, you might have brothers, sisters, parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, etc. You’re all part of the same family, but none of you are exactly the same and you are more closely related to some family members than others (for example, you’re more closely related to your parents than your uncle).

FIV and FeLV are in the same family (Retroviridae), but are different types of retroviruses (FIV is a lentivirus and FeLV is a gamma-retrovirus). They can be thought of as distant cousins in the family tree of retroviruses. It is because of this that the symptoms and progression of the two diseases are quite different.

FIV is a type of retrovirus called a lentivirus.  Lentiviruses are typically slow-moving viruses with long incubation periods that affect their host over a long period of time. Most cats with FIV lead normal, healthy lives and show no symptoms for many years (if at all).  Eventually, FIV can weaken the immune system of infected cats, leaving them susceptible to other diseases. A cat usually does not die from FIV, but it may die from a secondary infection that they were unable to fight off because of the FIV. FIV is fairly difficult to transmit between cats; the most common mode of transmission is through very deep, intramuscular bite wounds like the kind seen between unneutered males.

FeLV is a type of retrovirus called a gamma-retrovirus. This type of retrovirus is a “distant cousin” to the lentivirus. Cats with FeLV can have a variety of illnesses, ranging from anemia to leukemia and other cancers (or they may show no symptoms at all for many years – it just depends on the strain of the virus and how well the cat’s immune system reacts to it). FeLV commonly shortens the lifespan of infected cats, although there is a lot of variation in how long infected cats live and many things that factor into this (like the age at which they are infected). FeLV is most commonly spread either through bite wounds or prolonged close contact with an infected cat (usually through repeated mutual grooming, but it is also possible – but less likely – to spread through shared food/water bowls and litter boxes).

Summary of Similarities and Differences between FIV and FeLV

FIV Both FeLV
• Is a lentivirus • Are retroviruses • Is a gamma-retrovirus
• Affects cats slowly over a long period of time • Can cause immune dysfunction in cats • Affects cats more quickly over a period of months or years depending on a variety of factors
• Typically does not cause severe illness (although it can leave a cat more susceptible to secondary infections) • Can cause a variety of illnesses that range in severity
• Hard to transmit; does NOT spread through casual contact like mutual grooming or shared food/water bowls and litter boxes • Spreads more easily between unvaccinated cats; can be spread through casual contact
• Has a vaccine that is not recommended and does not provide much protection from the virus • Has a vaccine available that is very effective (depending on the type of vaccine)
• Can live with other cats that do not have FIV • Should only live with other FeLV+ cats or cats that have been vaccinated (although as with any vaccine, there is always some amount of risk)

So which one is more serious?

FeLV (feline leukemia) is more serious than FIV. Cats with FIV typically live normal, healthy lives, while cats with FeLV are expected to have a somewhat shortened lifespan, and are at a higher risk of developing certain cancers. However, if there’s one thing that we’ve learned in our work with FIV+ and FeLV+ cats, it’s that each cat is an individual, and there is no telling how a cat will respond to either virus (although this is ESPECIALLY true for FeLV).  This is why we are committed to helping both FIV+ and FeLV+ cats; we believe that every cat deserves a chance at a wonderful life filled with love and joy, regardless of their retroviral status. Many people don’t want to adopt FIV+ or FeLV+ cats, thinking “oh, they’re sick and will die soon, it’s not worth it…” But they’re wrong. A cat is not “sick” just because it has FIV or FeLV; remember, they may not show symptoms for years! It’s not fair to judge anyone, human or animal, based on what might happen in the future, and being positive for either virus does not mean that a cat is not as equally deserving of a loving home as any other cat.


Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

 

 

FIV versus Feline Leukemia

My Kitten has FIV

Problems with current tests for FIV

by Brittany Roth, Calvin’s Paws Medical Care Coordinator and FIV/Felv Advisor

We hear it all the time. “I found a kitten and was going to keep it, but my vet just said she has FIV!” No, she probably doesn’t. Really.

There’s no question that all cats should be tested for FIV and FeLV, but the age at which they are tested is a source of some debate. The labs that make the tests say kittens can be tested at any age and the test will be accurate, but more and more rescues and vets are learning that this isn’t really the case. To understand why, let’s look at how the immune system works.

Antibodies are a part of the immune system that your body makes in response to infection. Once they have been produced in response to a specific pathogen (germ), the body can later recognize that pathogen and quickly attack it, preventing illness. There are several ways in which you can develop antibodies to a pathogen:

  • You catch a disease and your body produces antibodies and fights the infection. Depending on the disease, you either fight it off completely or (as in the case of FIV) remain infected for life with your immune system keeping the infection suppressed. 
  • You are vaccinated against a disease and your body produces antibodies in response to the vaccine. You are then protected from future infection.
  • Babies (or kittens) get antibodies from their mothers for a period after birth.

The most common test for FIV is an ELISA test (commonly called a SNAP test, although there are others on the market now) that is performed in house at your veterinarian’s office. This test looks for the antibodies to FIV in the cat’s blood. The problem is that this test cannot distinguish between the 3 ways of developing antibodies. So when a cat tests FIV+ on an ELISA test, it actually means one of 3 things:

  1. The cat is infected with FIV.
  2. The cat was once vaccinated against FIV.
  3. A kitten has antibodies to FIV from its mother (either because the mom was infected or vaccinated).

Are you beginning to see the problem here? Cats that come into rescues and shelters often come in as strays with no medical history. We have no way of knowing if a cat has been vaccinated for FIV; the FIV vaccine is not a “core” vaccine and is not usually recommended by the AAFP, but cats (especially ones that are indoor/outdoor) are still vaccinated.

How can you tell who actually has FIV?

We can’t. Adults that test FIV+ have the test repeated immediately to rule out test error, and then are retested again in a month. If they are still positive, then we have to consider them FIV+.

So why doesn’t my kitten have FIV again?

You have to keep in mind that FIV is very hard to transmit – it’s usually only spread through deep, intramuscular bites like the kind seen between unneutered males. Kittens younger than 6 months don’t really get in those types of fights. Stray kittens are also young enough that they probably haven’t had a previous owner that vaccinated them for FIV. So by process of elimination, the most likely reason that a kitten is testing FIV+ is because it still has antibodies to FIV from its mother. As the kitten gets older, those maternal antibodies fade and leave their system as the kitten’s own immune system develops. Once those maternal antibodies fade, the kitten will test negative for FIV. This typically happens by 6 months of age, although it is possible for it to take longer. For this reason, any kitten that tests positive for FIV should be retested at 6 months of age. Calvin’s Paws typically retests “FIV” kittens one month after the original test, because that is often long enough for the antibodies to clear, but any kitten that still tests positive is retested again at 6 months, and again at 1 year if needed. A diagnosis of FIV really cannot be made until the cat is a year old.

Well if this is true, why didn’t my vet tell me this?

FIV was only discovered around 30 years ago. Since then, numerous studies have shown that what we initially believed about FIV (that it’s very contagious and cats with FIV will live short, painful lives) is wrong. New research on FIV is coming out all the time, but some vets simply haven’t been well educated on the topic.

We have had countless kittens come into our program testing FIV+ over the years, and almost every single one of them has ended up being negative by 6 months of age. Here are just a few that we’ve had recently:

Snowden, Sheridan, and Sheldon: Found in a cemetery. Refused by other rescues because they were testing FIV+. All eventually tested negative and are in loving forever homes.

Siamese fluff

Catsby: Found as a stray and tested positive at finder’s vet. Tested negative within days of us taking him into the program.

catsby


Calvin’s Paws is a 501(c)(3) rescue. We work through a network of foster homes throughout the Triangle area to save homeless cats and dogs. We are a dedicated group of volunteers with common goals: rescuing animals (both positives and non-infected felines), finding the best fitting homes for each animal, and educating the public on animal health and responsible pet ownership.
www.calvinspaws.com

 

My Kitten has FIV