Treatment and Prevention

 Indoor Cat

Once an animal has been infected with FIV, little can be preformed clinically to reverse the disease.  However, due to the slow progressive nature of the disease, a properly managed animal can live a long and comfortable life.


Experimental evidence show mixed results when animals with FIV are administered ant-virals.  Azidothymidine is sometimes used to help treat cats with FIV.  It is a nucleoside analogue that blocks lentivirus reverse transcriptase activity.  When integrated into developing DNA it inhibits the infection of new cells and reduces viral load (6).  This drug has been shown to increase quality of life, prolong life expectancy, improve neurological abnormalities and stomatitis (6, 11). 


Enhancing the function of the immune system has recently been explored as a method to deal with FIV.  Immune modulatory therapy utilizes substances such as acemannan,. to help restore compromised immune function.  Reports of this therapy have been difficult to interpret providing no conclusive evidence on its effectiveness (6).


Long term management can be an effective way to deal with an FIV infected cat.  These cats need to remain strictly indoors to prevent further spread of the virus and to minimize exposure to other infectious agents (6).  Secondary disease causes the majority of health problems in FIV infected cats.  Some animals may require intensive or long term antibiotic use to manage secondary bacterial infections (nelson).  To manage stomatitis, regular dental cleanings are indicated.  In severe cases of stomatitis, removal of all premolar and molar teeth may be necessary (11).  Recent studies show that treatment with bovine lactoferrin helps to alleviate stomatitis in cats.  Intact animals should be spayed and neutered to relieve stress associated with estrus and mating and a desire to roam (6).  Frequent veterinary check-ups are imperative in effectively managing complicating infections.  See " Vaccines" for information about  the use of vaccines.


The best way to deal with an FIV infection is to prevent it from occurring in the first place.  Keeping cats indoors greatly decreases risk of exposure.  When introducing a new cat to a household, be sure to test the cat before exposing it to others.  Transmission of the disease via fomites is uncommon as the FIV lives for only minutes outside the body.  Clean litter boxes and food dishes with scalding hot water and detergent to inactivate the virus.  Cats that have had potential FIV exposure should be retested 60 days post exposure (11).