Feline AIDS: Immune Deficiency in Cats

The condition known as Feline AIDS is caused by the presence of the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, otherwise known as Feline FIV. This virus causes a break down of the immune system, possibly leading to complications and secondary infections.

AIDS stands for Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. It is generally well known to people with respect to HIV, or Human Immunodeficiency Syndrome.

I've gotten some questions from readers about whether "cat AIDS" is contagious to humans. The answer is no.

HIV only affects humans. FIV only affects members of the cat family. If your cat has been diagnosed with Feline FIV or Feline AIDS, you cannot catch it from her.

Also, not all cats who are FIV positive will develop full blown AIDS. In fact, many cats can live apparently healthy, symptom free lives for many years.

Your cat will, however, carry the disease with her for life. Some cats can have the disease for many years before it is diagnosed, or before any symptoms are present.

Disease Management

A disease management program, in layman's terms, is a total approach to dealing with an "incurable" disease. In the case of Feline AIDS or FIV, that means doing all you can to support the immune system of your cat, and treating the secondary infections and conditions that may arise in due course. Work with your veterinarian to set up this program, and then stick with it.

Here are some things that you can focus on:

Good Diet - That diet should start with a high quality, premium cat food. Make sure that your cat has access to plenty of fresh, pure water 24/7. Nutrition is vital to any cat's well being, especially the immunocompromised.

Nutritional Supplements - This might include adding vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and other essential nutrients.

Boost the Immune System - Beyond good food, water, and nutritional supplements, you may want to investigate ways to further boost your cat's immune system. This may include herbal formulas, homeopathic remedies, and immune boosters like transfer factor for cats.

Note about alternative medicine for cats: If your veterinarian is open to using alternative treatments and nutritional supplementation, then a wider variety of disease management options become available to you.

Many veterinarians are now specializing in holistic care for pets, alternative uses for drugs, and supplementation. These and other techniques can be used as an adjunct to standard therapies.

What if your veterinarian is not open to alternative methods? Some of us may feel uncomfortable pursuing a course of prevention or treatment that our vets are not open to. This is understandable, but a dilemma none the less.

For those situations, you can seek out a vet who will provide the kind of care that you require for your cat. My personal feeling is that you owe it to your cat to investigate every possible solution that may help her.

You can usually find a veterinarian in your area (or you may have to travel a bit) who specializes in alternative therapies and supplementation.

Heathy Environment - Keeping the living area free from possible parasites and their carriers is important as well for an FIV positive cat. Fleas can carry parasites that can harm your cat, so flea control is important. Flea control for cats involves keeping rats and mice away as well, as they can carry fleas.

Of course, you'd want to do this anyway, but the obvious increase in danger to a Feline AIDS patient makes this very important. The implication here is that you should keep your cat indoors in order to protect her from getting to the rodents, and the fleas.

Low Stress - Stress is not good for anyone, especially an immunodeficient cat. Keeping the stress level down is important. That means, as much as possible, catering to your cat and trying to keep her daily routine stable. Above all, a Feline AIDS patient needs lots of love and constancy in her life.

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