Is FIV Testing Necessary?
There’s been a lot of debate going on about whether or not FIV testing is necessary. It seems that pretty much everyone in the field of animal care has opposing views on the matter, and it’s leaving people scratching their heads in confusion. However, it’s now becoming apparent that those who are in favor of skipping the test outnumber those who aren’t. Animal shelters and veterinary professionals are changing their protocols and advocating that FIV testing is unnecessary, if not, wasteful.
In this article, we’re going to shed some light on why more and more people are starting to believe testing cats for FIV shouldn’t be a part of regular procedures in shelters anymore.
Prevalence Is Extremely Low
The percentage of cats infected with FIV is extremely low; it’s only about 3 percent nationwide. On top of that, the disease isn’t easy for cats to contract. Infected cats would have to get into aggressive fights with other cats—a situation that can easily be prevented through spay and neuter programs.
Test Results Can Be Unreliable
Unfortunately, FIV tests aren’t foolproof, and it’s very common for them to yield false positives. That’s because the test is made to detect the presence of antibodies. So, cats that are infected, vaccinated, and have maternal antibodies can all have positive results. The tests won’t be able to distinguish whether the FIV antibodies developed from infection, vaccination, or simply acquired from the mother. That’s why kittens born to an FIV positive mother can sometimes test positive for FIV even though they don’t have the virus itself.
On the flip side, tests can also come out as false negatives. It takes at least 60 days for an FIV infected cat to develop enough antibodies to get a positive test result. If they get tested too early, they’ll test negative even when they actually have the virus.
Testing Can Be Costly And Time-Consuming
Since FIV test results aren’t always accurate, retesting is often done. That means a lot of time, money, and resources go into testing cats for FIV. Veterinary professionals will have to take blood samples, run the tests, analyze the data, and interpret the final test results. All the while, cats stay in the animal clinic or shelters for observation throughout the entire process, putting them even more at risk of catching diseases.
Most FIV-positive cats live long healthy lives without exhibiting any kind of health concern. However, cats showing signs of sickness, especially ones with bite wounds and skin abscesses, should definitely get tested. Unhealthy and immunocompromised cats are more likely to contract FIV, and in these situations, FIV testing is more reliable.
Testing Can Get Perfectly Healthy Cats Euthanized
Thankfully, most shelters don’t euthanize FIV-positive cats, but that’s not always the case. There are still some shelters that continue to euthanize FIV-positive cats as a precaution to prevent the infection from spreading to other cats. However, we now know that FIV isn’t easily transmissible, so there’s no need to be afraid of FIV-positive cats. In fact, the American Association of Feline Practitioners goes against routine euthanasia of healthy FIV-positive cats.
FIV isn’t a death sentence, and it shouldn’t be treated as such. There are plenty of FIV-positive cats living normal happy lives, showing no signs of illness for years! A lot of them can live just as long, if not longer, than their non-FIV counterparts.
Spay And Neuter Programs Are More Beneficial
Since FIV-positive cats spread FIV through deep bite wounds, it’s important to take the necessary measures to prevent them from getting into fights. One of the best ways we can do that is to get them spayed or neutered.
It’s extremely rare for fixed cats to show aggression. Unfixed FIV-positive cats, on the other hand, are more likely to pick fights and spread the virus, especially during mating season. They’re also more prone to stress, behavioral changes, and health problems, such as urinary tract infections, tumors, and cancer. Spaying and neutering FIV-positive cats will not only protect other cats from contracting the virus but also help FIV-positive cats stay healthy for longer.