Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a highly contagious disease that can be deadly for some cats. It is a retrovirus that is similar to HIV in humans. Once a cat tests positive, they will have the disease for the rest of their life.
FIV is transmitted from close cat-to-cat contact, such as bites and scratches. It mainly affects outdoor cats and feral cats—especially those who squabble easily.
Getting a vaccination for FIV might seem like a great way to protect your furry friend. However, since the disease rarely affects housecats, it is no longer considered a core vaccine, nor is it available in the US. In this post, we’ll explore the reasons behind this change, and discuss ways to reduce your cat’s risk of FIV.
Why the FIV Vaccination Is No Longer Used
Here are a few reasons why FIV immunization is no longer a core vaccine:
- The vaccination led to false positives for FIV.
- More cats live their lives indoors, so there is significantly less risk of infection.
- The FIV vaccination only offered limited protection against the virus, and needed frequent boosters to stay effective.
- The FIV vaccination contains adjuvants, which stimulate the immune system. This can increase the risk of sarcoma, a type of cancer that causes tumors.
- There are other ways to reduce your cat’s risk of FIV.
How to Reduce Your Cat’s Risk of FIV
While the FIV vaccine may no longer be a core recommendation, there are still practical steps you can take to minimize your cat’s risk of contracting the virus. Follow these tips to keep your cat safe:
- Keep them indoors and away from other cats.
- Screen for FIV before introducing a new cat to your other cats.
- If you have an outdoor cat, be sure to check for bites and scrapes.
Why Vaccinations Are Important for All Cats
Protecting your cat is important, and vaccinations can help prevent many illnesses that could otherwise cost your cat their life. Vaccines take deadly diseases and turn them into manageable cases, keeping your pet on this side of the rainbow bridge a little longer.
Just like they do in humans, vaccinations help your cat build antibodies to fight specific diseases. Vaccines can help your cat fight off diseases without suffering any symptoms. In other cases, they can make recovery faster or make treatments more effective.
Veterinary Care Is Always Evolving
As keeping pets becomes more and more popular, so does the science behind veterinary medicine. With more researchers performing studies and more people taking an active role in their pet’s health, there is constantly new information about how to best keep pets safe and healthy. Your veterinarian should be keeping up with the times.
Here at East Valley Animal Hospital, we do exactly that. Along with staying up to date on all new information that regards your pet’s health, our facility is also constantly evolving. We work hard to ensure your furry friend has access to the best treatments and technology available.