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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Pet Care Library > Articles > Feline Immunodeficiency Virus Fiv What It Is And Ways To Avoid It

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV): What It is And Ways To Avoid It

PetSmart Brent Carroll, DVM / Banfield, the Pet Hospital®

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Is your cat at risk?

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) can be spread through the placenta before birth, through the mother's milk, or from an infected cat, usually through bite wounds or breeding. Keeping your cat indoors and away from infected cats is the best way to avoid the risk of FIV infection. Keeping your Pet indoors also minimizes the chances that your cat will get in fights, be exposed to other viruses, or get hit by a car. Cats that go outside only occasionally may actually be at a higher risk than those that go out more frequently.

Also take these steps to help your cat avoid infection:

- Spaying or Neutering. When you do not want to raise kittens, spaying or neutering helps your Pet avoid many health problems, minimizes roaming and other behavior problems, and curbs your cat's sex drive.

- Testing. Make sure all new feline additions to your family are tested for FIV and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) infection. Any cat that goes outside at all should be tested yearly.

What to Look For

You generally don't notice anything until your Pet has been infected for some time. When the virus has taken over, the general symptoms of FIV can resemble other diseases, but certain persistent or recurring problems are warning flags. Make an appointment for your cat right away if you notice any of these signs:

Veterinary Care

We recommend annual blood tests as well as testing when cats are ill. Additional blood work may also be necessary to determine the health status of a sick Pet.

Unfortunately, there is no cure or vaccine for FIV infection. Keeping your cat healthy requires all-around good preventive care. If your Pet does contract the disease, it must be kept indoors away from non-infected cats, but with proper care it can live a long, relatively healthy life.

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