The following Article has been provided by Catwork - catwork.co.uk
We hope that this article will encourage more people to consider giving a home to a cat who has tested positive for FIV.
TVAW have recently fostered several FIV cats, they all came to us a bit down on their luck, but thankfully have gone on to become loving pets and living normal lives with understanding people
It was back in 1997 that we were introduced to Harry, a very nervous ginger and white stray cat who, we were told, had tested positive for FIV. This was the first we had heard of the virus (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). Little did we know at the time, but Harry was to completely change our lives!
Back then, FIV had only been known about for around ten years, and all the information about the virus came from scientific studies where cats were artificially infected
in the laboratory with large amounts of a very strong strain of the virus. This process gave the cats little chance to deal with the virus and, understandably,
threw up extreme reactions. The results were recorded as "evidence-based" information for what to expect from the virus.
Due to this, there was much fear surrounding FIV cats which led to very many positive testing cats being put to sleep.
With this background we took in Harry with some trepidation, wondering what to expect - long story short, Harry lived a very happy and healthy life with us for the next eight years needing no more than a dental in that time.
Through those years we were asked to take on many more FIV-positive cats who would otherwise have been put to sleep. This was the foundation of the Catwork
sanctuary which, over the last 22 years, has cared for well over 100 FIV-positive cats for the rest of their lives -Thanks Harry!
Contrary to expectation, we found that, even cats who came to us in a poor state, soon recovered. With just normal treatment, care and good food; they became fit and healthy, and remained so for years. We did not find any of the scare stories about FIV to be what we experienced with our FIV-positive cats.
Through our experience of caring for these cats, we have learned that those early studies are completely
unrepresentative of what actually happens to naturally infected FIV-positive cats in normal life. The evidence of real experience was overturning the old laboratory evidence.
Over the years, general attitudes towards FIV have changed. Learning from the experience of FIV-positive cats being allowed to live out their natural lives, rescue groups began to realise that having FIV was not a death sentence, but just a bit of an inconvenience. Homing of FIV cats has grown enormously since the early days.
Sadly, there are still some vets and rescues who have not yet accepted the realities of the virus, so we felt we needed to provide more real-life evidence of the true effects of FIV. We also wanted to be sure that our personal experience was not unusual, so we set up a study in 2014 to record the experience of many individual owners/carers of FIV-positive cats across the world. We wanted to hear their experiences in their own words.
Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, we named the study the "1,000 FIV cats project", not being sure how many we would really get to respond - suffice it to say that, as I write (July 2019) we have over 950 FIV-positive cats listed on the project from all over the world, with more still being added. This, together with our own 100+ cats, makes the total well over the 1,000 mark.
We were pleased to see that the experience of others was very similar to our own. The responses of these
individuals who care for FIV-positive cats has built into a powerful database of real-life experience; far outweighing the old laboratory-based studies.
The results of this on-going project are available for anyone to see on the website (FIVcats.com) but, to summarise the important points:
- The vast majority of FIV-positive cats live good healthy lives with no discernible illness due to the FIV - completely healthy for over 65% of the recorded time, and other minor ailments cleared up quickly with normal treatment - just like any other cat.
- There are no illnesses that can be identified as 'common' with FIV+ cats - most frequent are mouth/teeth issues - just like most other cats.
- Well over 500 (582 as of July 2019) cats on the project have lived in households together with uninfected cats, with not a single reported transmission of the virus.
There are a few things one needs to understand about FIV:
- - Although the virus does cause a reduction in some of the immune system's cells, this happens so slowly that most cats live out their full lives before the cells are reduced sufficiently to be a problem for the cat's health.
Note - If only the virus had been more accurately named: Feline ImmunoStaysStrongForYears Virus, perhaps then there would have been less misunderstanding of its effect - not serious, but you get the point!
- - Most vets don't see many FIV-positive cats, but those they do see are often brought in as strays, in poor
condition. When they test positive for FIV, vets often associate their poor condition with being FIV+, whereas in reality, their poor condition is due to their time as a stray with malnutrition and untreated wounds etc. Once given good treatment, they quickly recover from their ailments and continue as healthy cats - still FIV-positive, but showing that the virus was not the cause of their earlier poor condition.
- - The virus is realistically only transmitted by serious fights, when the virus in the saliva is actually injected through the skin into contact with the blood stream. The idea that FIV can be transmitted without fighting has no evidence to support it, and it is not experienced with the hundreds of positive cats living happily with uninfected cats - in practice, it just doesn't happen.
- - The virus is mainly spread by FIV-positive, un-neutered male stray cats who have to fight to survive, passing on the virus as they do. The majority of cats who test positive for FIV have been the victims of a few aggressive strays; they were just unfortunate to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Once a cat is rescued, neutered and provided with a good food supply, it has no reason to fight, and usually becomes a calm, loving pet - many report that their FIV-positive cats are the most affectionate cats they have known!
The outlook for FIV-positive cats living in normal cat-loving homes, with or without other cats, really is positive! - listen to the 1000 cats and their carers recorded on the project - they can't all be wrong!
Please consider giving a home to an FIV-positive cat - they deserve homes just like other cats.
For more detailed information, and links to the project results, visit: www.FIVcats.com
(Article provided by Catwork - catwork.co.uk)