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feline immunodeficiency-how contagious is it?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi everyone. I'm so glad I found this site. I have a dilemna and i'd really appreciate any feedback anyone could give me. I have had my cat petra for almost 5 years now. she was a stray that I picked up from an cat protection society of which i am now a member. its really just a bunch of women who pick up strays get them vaccinated and sterilized and look for homes for them. My problem is that i just recently found out that petra has FIV. I don't know for how long or how she got it but i'm wondering if i have to stop bringing home other strays now. The worst part is that i recently decided to keep a 5-month-old kitten i found a few weeks ago. They really have taken a liking to each other which hasn't always been the case with the others i brought home and i thought it would be nice for her to have a permanent companion. Meanwhle, my cat group thought it would be better to take another cat with FIV. I did, but after 2 weeks they are still hissing at each other and sometimes i feel a little threatened by this new cat. I think she may be better off on her own. Would it be wrong of me to keep the other kitten? Her test for FIV came out negative but the research i've seen seems to think that chances of passing the disease during casual daily contact are slim. Both she and my cat petra are both very docile so i don't really see any chance of contracting the disease through blood or a puncture wound. Can anyone give me some advice on this? I know i need to make a decision soon! Thanks so much. jenny
post #2 of 11
My goodness what a dilema! From what I know about FIV, it is like AIDS which can't be transferred from casual contact. As long as Petra doesn't show aggression toward the kitten, I don't think it would be a problem to keep them together. Obviously, you would always have to keep a close eye on them to make sure they don't play too rough and keep the kitten away from Petra if she ever gets sick or if either of them have an open wound. From what I understand it can be a workable situation.

Also, I have to commend you for the work you do with strays! We need more people like you in the world!
post #3 of 11
I recently had a rescue with FIV and I had to have her PTS. Not so much because she had the disease, but because she was so advanced with the disease she had a form of lockjaw and just wouldn't eat. Thankfully, there is more research out today than ever before about this disease, and I do know of a few people who have put FIV cats together with other cats with good results. The way the infection spreads is just not in a cat bite, but the bite has to not only break the skin, but the blood vessels in the infected cats gums has to rupture to spread the disease.

No, there is no cure for an FIV kitty but there are treatments to put it into remission. Of course the new kitty once tested negative needs to have the vaccine and the shot needs to be kept up to date. Your FIV kitty may not live 12 years, but it should live about 7. Good luck!
post #4 of 11
Thread Starter 
would you believe that petra is already between 7 and 8 years old and has never been sick in her life? My vet said she once knew a cat with the disease that lived to be 23! i guess sometimes they may have the virus but it doesnt really develop into the full disease. the only probelm petra's had since i owned her is the inflamation of the gums and some rotten teeth which we took care of and she seems to be eating jsut fine with the ones she has left. she's quite fat actually. thanks for the advice i feel better already!
post #5 of 11
True, I forgot that aspect of it, she could just be a carrier and never actually come down with the disease. Either way, she is lucky to have you in her life!
post #6 of 11
hi! i'm sorry about your kitty. i have heard of cats living long happy lives with the disease. i think now she will be more prone to other problems. just keep that immune system up and checked by the vet on a regular basis. as for some reason, i know you will. with that in mind, she could live for many years to come!!! keep hope. never give up!
post #7 of 11
oh, one more thing, the cat that may threaten you a little. do you know what would happen to it if it was not in your care? would it have to live and die alone? i mean that as a serious question. i think they still need time to warm up. 2 of my cats still hiss at eachother that have lived togather for 6 years. please give them time. they all need you. and lotsa, lotsa, love.

this choice is not on the poll. Keep Them ALL!!!
post #8 of 11
Thread Starter 
hi there. thanks again for the advice. I have thought about keeping them all, but i have a few roadblocks: I live with 2 other people in a rented flat that aren't as enthusiastic about cats as me to say the least. They've said 2 is o.k. with them but 3 is pushing it. that would also prevent me from picking up other strays and housing them until i find them a new home. I have one small room now that i keep the strays in and its being occupied by Kali, the new FIV cat at the moment. Also, I'm not sure about the rules for bringing cats back into the U.S. from other countries and I'm hoping that the FIV won't be a probelm, as i plan on moving back to the states one day. My vet mentioned once that it might be because she will have to include all the health info on the pet passport. Does anyone know about this? I think I could persuade her to work it out so i could take petra as long as she's well enough to travel, but I don't want to make things more complicated. Anyway, I'm sure if there is no problem taking them back I'll work it out to keep all of them, or at least find one of them a home. I already have a potential home for the kitten but I was just so set on keeping her because Petra and I have become so attached! Regardless of what happens, everyone will get a nice home and good care in the end so please don't worry about that.
post #9 of 11
what a great person you are with such a tough decision. as long as the other cat would have a loving home, keep the kitten. bet your looking forward to having your own place so you can have lots of cats!! your roomates are pretty cool for accepting 2. best of luck.
post #10 of 11
My oldest cat, Fred, is FIV+. He is 13 years old and seems to be in pretty good shape for an old fellow. I have 3 others cats that are tested regularly and they always test negative. I already had 2 of these other cats when I found out. I could not bring myself to split up my little feline family, the all adore each other. I had no choice but to bring another home or leave her in the road to die. I would hate for any of my babies to get sick, but if they do, I will care for them until they go to the bridge.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
thanks for sharing your story with me. It's good to have some evidence instead of just statistics on the contagiousness of FIV. I'm going to share this info with my vet here in Madrid. Good luck with your cat family and hope fred stays healthy for a long time! xo, jenny & petra
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