Does your cat venture outside?

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Could your cat be infected with FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus)? We are offering all cats a free blood test during the month of September to find out. Read on to find out more about this important cat disease below and how you can help prevent your cat getting infected.

Does your cat go outside? Yes, then they are at risk of contracting Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), commonly known as Feline AIDS.

Although FIV is similar to the human AIDS virus, in that it destroys the immune system and leaves the sufferer susceptible to infections, the feline version is NOT transmissible to humans. However, it is highly contagious to other cats. It is estimated that one in seven Australian cats with that go outdoors test positive for FIV – one of the highest infection rates in the world - and unfortunately there is no cure.

The virus is spread through saliva, so cats that go outside and get into fights are most at risk. A bite wound from an infected cat is the most common way the virus is spread, but it can also be passed from a mother cat to her kittens.

At the time of infection, a cat may suffer fever, enlarged lymph nodes (glands) and lethargy. There may also be vomiting, diarrhoea, conjunctivitis or flu symptoms which may last a few days up to a few weeks.
After recovering from this initial illness caused by the infection, an FIV infected cat may remain healthy for a number of years. Then as the disease progresses, further symptoms may develop, including weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions and repeated infections like urinary tract infections. An infected cat will also be at a higher risk of developing cancer. While the virus itself is not fatal, the pain and discomfort from repeated infections have a major impact on their quality of life.  Eventually the cat’s immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections or diseases and as a result the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections or cancer. Throughout the time they are infected, even if they are not unwell, they are carriers and can spread the disease to healthy cats.

Luckily, for those pets that are not infected there is a vaccine available to protect against Feline Immunodeficiency Virus infection. To provide immunity the initial vaccination course requires three injections, two weeks between each one, and from then on a booster every 12 months. This booster can be given at the same time as their regular annual vaccination.
While the vaccination can be given at any age, if your cat is over six-months-old they will need a blood test prior to beginning the vaccination course to ensure they are not already infected.

A further way to help prevent FIV in your cat is to ensure your cat does not come into contact with infected cats. This would involve either keeping your cat solely indoors, or erecting a cat run on your property so they can enjoy the outdoors while preventing contact with other cats.

For the month of September we are offering FREE FIV blood tests for cats. Give us a call on 5995 1451 to make a booking. Cats who begin their FIV vaccination course during September will also go in the draw to WIN a cat carrier. 

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