At Cats’ Castle we are very strict about only accepting cats to board with us if they are up to date on their FVRCP vaccine, which protects your cats against potential airborne viruses (see our blog http://catscastle.ca/gazoontite-discussing-the-cat-cold/ to learn about all of the preventative measures we take to inhibit the transmission of viruses at our facility!). Because we never mingle cats from separate families here, kitties never interact with others that aren’t their siblings. This eliminates any potential for transmission of viruses that are not airborne, but instead transmitted via contact (usually through saliva and bite wounds), such as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV.
While viruses such as FIV are not an issue from a boarding perspective, it has a strong stigma surrounding it, and can severely decrease a kitty’s chances of getting adopted. This is a sad fact, as many cats with FIV are affectionate, loving and with proper care are able to live long healthy lives.
FIV is found in approximately 2% of the cat population around the world and is most commonly transmitted through bite wounds. With that being the case the most common cats affected are tomcats, unneutered free roaming males – but any outdoor cat who is aggressive towards other cats will be at risk (keep in mind many cats may be aggressive towards other kitties but are absolute love bugs towards their humans!). FIV is not transmitted through casual encounters between cats, this includes grooming, playing, sneezing or even sharing food bowls. Therefore, if you have a couple of cats in your home and one is infected, your other non-infected cats are at a low risk of contracting FIV. Cats that are housemates may play around with one another but typically don’t fight aggressively once a social hierarchy has been established.
Vaccines exist for FIV, however they may not completely protect all cats from contracting FIV. This means that even if your kitty is vaccinated, you should still try to limit their exposure to the virus. The vaccine may also cause false-positive test results if your kitty is later tested for FIV.
If you have a cat that is FIV positive, your kitty still has the potential to live a long, healthy and happy life with you! FIV diminishes a cat’s immune system until it is no longer able to protect itself against even the most common viruses and bacterias that wouldn’t have an impact on a healthy cat. These secondary illnesses will most likely be the demise of the cat, not the FIV itself. FIV positive kitties can also be more likely to develop cancer, blood diseases or kidney failure. However, there are a few things you can do to help ensure your cats health!
The most important thing to help keep your FIV kitty healthy is to keep them indoors! This will lower their chances of coming into contact with harmful bacteria, viruses or other infectious agents that could be harmful to them. It will also lower their chances of injury due to fighting with other animals (and potentially spreading the virus even further!), getting hit by a car or injuring themselves on their surroundings (like getting caught in a fence for instance). While some injuries are more serious than others and could take the life of a non-FIV cat, even the smallest scratches or cuts can snowball into a much larger issue for a cat with a compromised immune system!
Even when keeping your kitty indoors, you should schedule regular vet check-ups for your cat. It is a good idea to take them to the vet every six months or so – about twice as often as a non-FIV cat. Your veterinarian can do a general check-up for your cat and will also monitor their weight, as weight loss is usually the first sign of deteriorating health.
In summary; FIV is relatively rare, affecting approximately 2% of cats. It is most frequently transmitted through deep bite wounds, so the most common cats affected are unaltered males (or territorial cats) that roam outdoors. Many FIV positive cats are absolute sweethearts (…obviously, they’re still cats, right?!), and are in need of homes. With the proper care, they are able to live long and happy lives and are able to live in multicat homes as well! So, don’t rule out inviting an FIV positive kitty into your home!
Please keep in mind that we are not veterinarians!! All of our information is gathered through internet research. If you have any questions or concerns regarding your cats health, you should always contact your vet.
Cats Castle Cat Hotel is a cat boarding that specializes in both short term and long term cat boarding. Our cattery provides a luxurious alternative to pet sitting. Our facility is located in Oakville Ontario, just minutes off of the QEW. Our customers come from all over Toronto and the GTA, Markham, Milton, Hamilton, Mississauga, Burlington and more!