Resources and anectdotes related to Feline HIV
April 24, 2007 2:27 PM   Subscribe

Seeking resources and anecdotes related to Feline HIV

My mom's cat was just diagnosed with Feline HIV, and she is just devastated. She feels like it is her fault because she let him go out, and he got in a fight (which, it turns out, is the most common way for it to be transmitted).

To make matters worse, the vet told her there was nothing she could do to treat him or manage the condition, and they sent her home without even disinfecting the wound he had on his neck (which was her original reason for the visit). They also harassed her about her responsibility to not infect other cats while she was crying. He is obviously going to live indoors from now on.

From what I've been able to google (,, There is no cure. But, there are certainly lots of things she can do to keep him from getting sicker and to prolong his quality of life. One of the main things is quick treatment of secondary illnesses, so I am pretty dubious about this vet too.

I'm looking for reliable resources on FIV management, and anecdotes from kitty moms and dads who have been there.

Bonus points for someone who can recommend a compassionate, capable vet in the Honolulu area! (She is currently at VCA in Kaneohe).
posted by paddingtonb to Pets & Animals (5 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: i'm so sorry to hear about this; my thoughts are with you, your mother, and her cat.

first recommendation: find a new vet, ASAP. your mother should not be berated upon being told her beloved pet has an incurable illness, and they should not be ignoring his injury.

unfortunately, i don't know too much about FIV firsthand. my mother has two FIV+ cats, though, who are both doing pretty well. my understanding is that it works basically like HIV--the F is for "feline immunodeficiency virus", after all. if she gets him checked out by a reputable vet, treats any ancillary infections he might have contracted through the fight injury, and (possibly) gets him on some meds that help suppress the virus, he should have good odds.

i don't want to misinform you with third-hand information, so instead i'll refer you to these people: Tree House Animal Foundation. they're a chicago-based cat shelter that specializes in sick cats. my mom adopted one of her FIV+ kitties from them; they have a designated room for the cats with FIV, some of whom they house long-term because they don't get adopted as often. they have an email address for questions; i'm sure your mother could get some good advice from them with regards to care.

one piece of good news: FIV is actually less dangerous than feline leukemia, and her kitty has a much better chance of living a healthy life with the former than the latter.

best of luck. if you want me to get some more detailed information from my mother regarding her cats' health, the mail is lukeparkerfiasco (at) gmail dot com.
posted by the luke parker fiasco at 4:08 PM on April 24, 2007

Yeah, change vets. I have an FIV+ cat, and I've heard vets say everything from "Your cat can live to a ripe old age!" to "We should just euthanize FIV+ kittens, becuase it's just not worth it."

My little FIV+ guy started out as a feral cat, but is now an adorable lap cat who is about ten years old. I've had him for six years, and he's been fine. It's just in the past year that he's developed a slightly irregular heartbeat, but my vet said that's probably unrelated to the FIV.

FIV is not an immediate death sentence. Find a good vet and good luck!
posted by christinetheslp at 5:36 PM on April 24, 2007

Thirding the call to change vets. Now. There's plenty of vets who don't think FHV is a moral outrage.

About two years ago we discovered all 4 of our cats had the FHV. They were indoor cats so we stopped vaccinating them years ago, and stupidly believed our most recent cat from the shelter was also vaccinated. He wasn't, he had FHV, now they all have it. The good news is that it hasn't affected them much. Here's a link:

They may have complications if they get ill or injured, but otherwise we were told by vets at the Kansas State Vet Med that the virus will lay pretty dormant.

L-lysine supplements help keep the cat's immune system going strong enough to keep the virus at bay.

Our oldest cat recently passed at 14 1/2 years old. FIV didn't affect him even when he got sick with cardiomyopathy and renal failure. We gave him L-lysine just in case, though.

Our next oldest cat is 14 and he has, on two occasions, had eye problems brought on by the herpesvirus. Otherwise he's fine and healthy.

The cat we inherited from mom hasn't had any problems. The youngest cat -- the one who gave them all FHV -- has only had a brief flare-up after some surgery. He got cold symptoms from the stress, but got over it in about 2 days.

Human herpes meds are the same meds they use for cats. We've used them a couple of times, and if we see more symptoms will give all the cats L-lysine.

Good luck. I think a new vet will help put this all in perspective. The only problem I've had is funny looks at the pharmacy, when I'm buying the herpes meds. They think its for me, and sometimes the pharmacy assistants aren't very professional.
posted by smashingstars at 4:45 AM on April 25, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks guys! the luke parker fiasco gets best answer for his link, but a really appreciated everyone's advice. I'm passing the link on to my mom.
posted by paddingtonb at 7:16 AM on April 25, 2007

My cats don't have FIV but I do give them a daily supplement which enhances the immune system. It is a glyconutrient supplement called Ambrotose and is made by the Mannatech company. The dosing for cats is 1/2 of a capsule daily mixed into food.

Below is a link that discusses the use of the positive effects glyconutrients have on animals.
posted by alleycatd at 2:31 PM on May 9, 2007

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