We are slightly alarmed to have to answer – YES – cats on the Monaro and in the Snowies are at high risk!
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is the virus that can lead to AIDS in our treasured tabbies. Just as HIV virus in humans can lead to this debilitating and often fatal immune system failure in us, so too can it be dangerous and commonly fatal to our cats.
Recent studies of cats Australia wide have suggested that between 9 and 16% of Australian cats are infected with FIV. That is a large percentage of cats to be carrying a potentially deadly disease. However tests done recently in our clinics suggested that, in this district, the number is higher- more like 25%!
The virus is transmitted from cat to cat mostly via bite wounds. So cats that are often in fights or being picked on by neighbourhood cats are at high risk. Feral cats are commonly carriers. Our testing also showed that even some cats that weren’t known or regular fighters had picked up the disease. Fortunately, there is a vaccine against FIV.
We have been forced to think hard about our recommendations for prevention of this deadly disease. While we believe vaccination is fantastic medicine (preventing disease-what could be better!), we also believe that minimising its use to high risk situations is important medical practice. FIV can certainly cause severe disease, and some cats are at high risk of catching it.
Our Recommendations Cats that are KNOWN FIGHTERS (with other cats) SHOULD be vaccinated. INDOOR ONLY cats DO NOT need to be vaccinated (unless they live and fight with a known FIV positive cat) OUTDOOR CATS (cats that spend any time outdoors) that live in “built up” areas (Cooma, Berridale, Jindabyne – perhaps the hearts of a few other towns in the region) SHOULD be vaccinated. OUTDOOR CATS that live in rural areas may or may not be at risk. Each case should be considered individually – but certainly if the cat fights, spars or comes into contact with neighbours’ or feral cats then they SHOULD be vaccinated.
The Vaccination Process Cats to be vaccinated must first be tested for FIV. Also, our rule is that cats to be vaccinated against FIV must be microchipped. The initial course of vaccination is 3 injections, given once every 2 weeks. Then a yearly booster is required.
So, if you think your cat might be at risk of this deadly disease, we encourage you to organise a visit to the clinic to speak to one of our vets about what needs to be done. We have put some special discounted prices in place to encourage everyone to protect any at risk cats (and thereby protecting all cats in our region) by vaccinating against FIV and Feline AIDS.
FAQ Can FIV be deadly? FIV itself will not kill your cat. But the development of AIDS can debilitate a cat’s immune system and allow other infections to make the cat very sick or even kill them.
Is my cat at risk? Read the whole article! But in short: Indoors only – UNLIKELY Outdoors at all – PROBABLY
Can humans catch AIDS from Cats? Absolutely NOT!!!
Does my cat’s routine yearly vaccination cover FIV? No, it does not.