Tuesday, August 1, 2017

let's talk about FIV (again)

*a post by the mom

A woman posted in a closed cat group on facebook that she and a friend had found some kittens in a barn. The friend took them as fosters and when they were big enough took them to a vet to be tested and neutered. The test came back positive for FIV and the vet put them all down (I refuse to call that euthanasia - which translates to "good death" when there is nothing good about it). The woman posted about this and said she wanted to be mad at the vet. We all agreed that she was right - be mad at the vet.

It did get me thinking though....how is it with all the information out there that vets are still doing this? I quizzed a registered vet tech friend and Julie from Sometimes Cats Herd You asked her vet the same questions. My friend Andrea graduated in 1998 and the vet around 2010.

1. How did they cover FIV in school?
        A: I graduated tech school in 1998 so it was still a taboo disease then. Basically they told us that if a cat had FIV he should be kept as any only cat or only with other FIV+ cats. It was acceptable practice,  almost expected, to euthanize positive cats. They also made it sound like they would develop all kinds of illness and disease and never be normal.

      V: When Julie asked about how they cover FIV in vet school, she (the vet) said "they don't, really".

2. Have attitudes changed since you graduated?
     A: Attitudes have definitely changed. I would like believe the vast majority of vets and shelter/rescue personnel have come to the realization that as FIV+ positive cats can live harmoniously with FIV- cats. The only true concern would be if the positive cat would be they type inclined to truly bite another cat, whether it be during play or if they were fighting among themselves in the home. Unfortunately I know that there are still uneducated vets out there who recommend euthanasia.

     V: She says that attitudes have definitely changed since she was in vet school, and that it seems to her that a lot of vets know that FIV+ cats are OK living in homes where they're able to get vet care promptly if they catch anything. She also said one of her cats is FIV+ and lives with her other cats just fine. She actually came back in the room afterward with another thought that a lot of vets choose not to test for FIV any more. 

3. What is you office policy for a healthy FIV cat if someone came in and asked for euthansia?

    A: Whole Pet Wellness Center would not euthanize an otherwise healthy FIV+ cat. We have a veterinary assistant who runs a small rescue and if she had space for an adult cat at the time we could see about placing the cat with them. More than likely we would just educate the owner and hopefully they would keep the cat themselves. We do not perform convenience euthanasia for any reason. 

    V: If someone brought an otherwise FIV+ cat in to be euthanized, she said that's too broad a question to have a policy. She reiterated that cats can live in homes and with other cats and have long, quality lives. She also reiterated what she said before that she considers herd immunity with ferals, especially with males likely to fight and spread the disease further in a colony. So that's really a case-by-case thing, but of course they don't like to euthanize healthy cats if it's avoidable. 

4. What about continuing education?
   A: Honestly, I haven't seen any CE on FIV ever. I haven't specifically been looking, but I usually read through the MWVC schedule pretty thoroughly every year. That's a sad realization. 

    V:  She said that the problem with continuing education is that there's relatively little new information about FIV. Not enough for a 50 minute lecture, "And CE is expensive. We want to come out of a CE session with something we can use."

I also asked Andrea about false positives when testing. She wasn't sure and then an article popped up in her facebook feed that you can check out from dvm 360. Julie's vet said the snap test can have false positives and "when in doubt, retest".

What I find interesting is that both the vet and Andrea have FIV+ cats. (Andrea's cat Badger is on facebook)

What I personally find so frustrating is that with ALL the information out there, vets and the public still have this overwhelmingly negative view of FIV. I guess the best I can do is keep writing and asking you to share and keep talking about it. 


  1. I shared as this information could save lives. Thank you for writing this informative and useful post.

  2. Very useful information.Thanks for this good info. Hope it will save some lives.

  3. This is so frustrating and is my chance to tell about the amazing adoption we just had on Saturday. Two seven year old (not young anymore but not yet our special senior adoption fee) cats from a huge rescue we did a few months ago. Both FIV+, one with a chronic URI. They bonded in foster care and had to be adopted together. A *wonderful* woman came along; she'd had two cats one of whom had a chronic URI. She was told he wouldn't live past two years; he passed at 18! Now she was ready to welcome these beautiful FIV+ felines into her life. They rewarded her confidence with cuddles their very first night in their new home. She is thrilled.

    1. WOOHOO!!! Those adopters are the people that keep those of us in rescue going!! Best wishes to that wonderful lady and her new kitties!!

  4. I am glad you are doing your part to let people know it is not a death sentence.

  5. FIV is still a big education surve. The tide is slowly turning against declawing, and with ongoing education, it will against people thinking that FIV is a disease that limits cats. Until then, we just need to keep sharing information and teaching people one at a time.

  6. There needs to be more education, research and discussion about FIV. I had no idea so much was lacking in this area! My human has known for a long time that FIV+ cats can live long, healthy lives, very often alongside non-FIV cats.

  7. I think many veterinarians are simply lazy, when it comes to learning new things and when it comes to treating animals.

  8. A year ago, I made a really long list of all the things vets are way behind on (FIV was one) - so I could write a post with the correct information. I never got to it - but this post is a good kick in the butt on that. I truly don't understand how difficult it can be to make a CE course on updates in cat health or on the cutting edge of cat care - both of which could include the latest research on FIV. I mean this impacts hundreds or even thousands of cats and vets just have no idea of how to deal with it. It makes me mad. Imagine a medical doctor telling an HIV or AIDS patient that it's a death sentence - when so many advances have been made by now to make that inaccurate at best. Why do our cats deserve any less?!?!

    1. money - plain and simple. there is no money to be made by a company offering to "educate" vets on FIV. sad but true....

  9. Who knew that not only do we have to educate the general public, but our own vets too?
    Makes me gnash my teeth!

  10. Replies
    1. thanks....the more it gets out there the better

  11. There really needs to be more education and awareness about FIV cats. Thanks for your insights on this.

  12. Really relevant post, as I currently have a kitten who tested faintly positive for FIV here at Foster Camp. The rescue's vet simply requested that we retest in six to eight weeks, which will be coming up this weekend. Lucky Nicky is doing great (he was rescued by good samaritans after being thrown out out of a moving vehicle at six weeks old), and the rescue never considered euthanizing him, nor did the vet.

    That said, I know that there are shelters in this area who automatically euthanize FIV-positive cats, but those are the same shelters who euthanize for ringworm, so there ya go.

  13. I'm catching up. I will do that. It will help innocent cat.


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