*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.