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Can Cats Get HIV?

Tuesday, April 8, 2014
posted by Jim Murphy

CATS KISSINGHIV in cats is called feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV).This is the same virus family as the feline leukemia virus. FIV infected cats are found worldwide. In the United States, approximately 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. Rates rise significantly-15 percent or more-in cats that are sick or at high risk of infection. Because biting is the most efficient means of viral transmission, free-roaming, aggressive male cats are the most frequently infected, while cats housed exclusively indoors are much less likely to be infected according to the Cornell  Feline Health Center.  The primary way to get the infection is through bite wounds. House cats that are well cared for and that do not fight with other cats are very unlikely to contact FIV.

FIV infected cats may appear normal for many years. Information for the Cornell Feline Health Center reveals  that infection eventually leads to a state of immune deficiency that hinders the cat’s ability to protect itself against other infections. The same bacteria, viruses, protozoa, and fungi that may be found in the everyday environment–where they usually do not affect healthy animals–can cause severe illness in those with weakened immune systems. These secondary infections are responsible for many of the diseases associated with FIV.

If a cat is infected, his health may deteriorate slowly. There may be current illness interspersed with periods of fair to good health. Like HIV, FIV may not appear for years after infection. The immune system deteriorates and signs can appear anywhere throughout the body.

Remember, your pets count!

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