The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals® (ASPCA®) was the first humane society to be established in North America and is, today, one of the largest in the world.
Our organization was founded on the belief that animals are entitled to kind and respectful treatment at the hands of humans and must be protected under the law. Headquartered in New York City, the ASPCA maintains a strong local presence, and with programs that extend our anti-cruelty mission across the country, we are recognized as a national animal welfare organization. We are a privately funded 501(c)(3) not-for-profit corporation, and are proud to boast more than 2 million supporters across the country.
The ASPCA’s mission, as stated by founder Henry Bergh in 1866, is “to provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.”
The Furry Critter Network
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus - Issue Description
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
FIV can compromise the immune system of cats. FIV infects many cell types in its host, including CD4+ and CD8+ T lymphocytes, B lymphocytes, and macrophages. FIV can be tolerated well by cats, but can eventually lead to debilitation of the immune system in its feline hosts by the infection and exhaustion of T-helper (CD4+) cells. In cats the percentage of this happening is very low. Less than 5%. Unlike in humans with HIV, where this percentage is estimated at over 50%.
FIV and HIV are both lentiviruses. However, humans cannot be infected by FIV, nor can cats be infected by HIV. FIV is transmitted primarily through deep bite wounds, where the virus present in the infected cat's saliva enters the body tissues of another cat. FIV+ cats can share water bowls, pellet bowls, eat from the same bowl of wet food, and use the same litter box with low danger of transmitting the disease. A vigilant pet owner who treats secondary infections can allow an infected cat to live a reasonably long life. The chance that an FIV-infected cat will pass the virus to other cats within a household is low, unless there is fighting between cats, or wounds present that could allow entry of the virus from infected to non-infected cat.
Newborn kittens may test positive for up to six months and most thereafter will gradually test negative. It is thought that this is due to antibodies transferred to the kittens via the mother's milk. However these antibodies are transient so subsequent testing will be negative. Once they have received vaccinations against FIV, they will, in the future, always test positive, as the various blood tests detect and show the antibodies that have developed in response to the vaccination.
The virus gains entry to the host's cells through the interaction of the envelope glycoproteins (from the glycoprotein env) of the virus and the target cells' surface receptors. First the SU glycoprotein binds to CD134, a receptor on the host cell. This initial binding changes the shape of the SU protein to one that facilitates interaction between SU and the chemokine receptor CXCR4. This interaction causes the viral and cellular membranes to fuse, allowing the transfer of the viral RNA into the cytoplasm, where it is reverse transcribed and integrated into the cellular genome through nonhomologous recombination. Once integrated into the host cell's genome, the virus can lay dormant in the asymptomatic stage for extended periods of time without being detected by the immune system or can cause lysis of the cell.
CD134 is predominantly found on activated T cells and binds to OX40 ligand, causing T-cell stimulation, proliferation, activation, and apoptosis. This leads to a significant drop in cells which have critical roles in the immune system. Low levels of CD4+ and other affected immune system cells cause the cat to be susceptible to opportunistic diseases once the disease progresses to feline acquired immune deficiency syndrome (FAIDS).
The primary mode of FIV transmission is via deep bite wounds, where the infected cat's saliva enters the other cat's tissues. FIV may also be transmitted from pregnant females to their offspring in utero, however this vertical transmission is considered to be relatively rare based on the small number of FIV-infected kittens and adolescents. This differs from FeLV, which may be spread by more casual, non-aggressive contact such as mutual grooming and sharing of food bowls.
FIV progresses through similar stages to HIV in humans. The initial stage, or acute phase, is accompanied by mild symptoms such as lethargy, anorexia, fever, and lymphadenopathy. This initial stage is fairly short and is followed by the asymptomatic stage. Here the cat demonstrates no noticeable symptoms for a variable length of time. Some cats stay in this latent stage for only a few months, but for some it can last for years. Factors that influence the length of the asymptomatic stage include the pathogenicity of the infecting virus and FIV subtype (A-E), the age of the cat, and exposure to other pathogens. Finally, the cat progresses into the final stage (known as the feline acquired immune deficiency syndrome (FAIDS) stage), wherein the cat is extremely susceptible to secondary diseases that inevitably are the cause of death.
Veterinarians will check a cat's history, look for clinical signs, and possibly administer a blood test for FIV antibodies. FIV affects 2-3% of cats in the US and testing is readily available. This testing identifies those cats that carry the FIV antibody but does not detect the actual virus. False positives occur when the cat carries the antibody (which is harmless) but does not carry the actual virus. The most frequent occurrence of this is when kittens are tested after ingesting the antibodies from mother's milk, and when testing cats that have been previously vaccinated for FIV. For this reason, neither kittens under eight weeks nor cats that have been previously vaccinated are tested. Kittens and young cats that test positive for the FIV antibody may test negative at a later time due to seroreversion, provided they have never been infected with FIV and have never been immunized with the FIV vaccine.
Cats that have been vaccinated will test positive for the FIV antibody for the rest of their lives owing to seroconversion, even though they are not infected. Therefore, testing of strays or adopted cats is inconclusive, since it is impossible to know whether or not they have been vaccinated in the past. For these reasons, a positive FIV antibody test by itself should never be used as a criterion for euthanasia.
Tests can be performed in a vet's office with results in minutes, allowing for quick consultation. Early detection helps maintain the cat's health and prevents spreading infection to other cats. With proper care, infected cats can live long and healthy lives.
In 2006, the United States Department of Agriculture issued a conditional license for a new treatment aid termed Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator (LTCI). Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator is manufactured and distributed exclusively by T-Cyte Therapeutics, Inc. It is intended as an aid in the treatment of cats infected with feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and/or feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), and the associated symptoms of lymphocytopenia, opportunistic infection, anemia, granulocytopenia, or thrombocytopenia. The absence of any observed adverse events in several animal species suggests that the product has a very low toxicity profile. Lymphocyte T-Cell Immunomodulator is a potent regulator of CD-4 lymphocyte production and function. It has been shown to increase lymphocyte numbers and Interleukin 2 production in animals. It is a single chain polypeptide and a strongly cationic glycoprotein, and is purified with cation exchange resin. Purification of protein from bovine-derived stromal cell supernatants produces a substantially homogeneous factor, free of extraneous materials. The bovine protein is homologous with other mammalian species and is a homogeneous 50 kDa glycoprotein with an isoelectric point of 6.5. The protein is prepared in a lyophilized 1 microgram dose. Reconstitution in sterile diluent produces a solution for subcutaneous injection.
As with HIV, the development of an effective vaccine against FIV is difficult because of the high number and variations of the virus strains. "Single strain" vaccines, i.e., vaccines that only protect against a single virus variant, have already demonstrated a good efficacy against homologous FIV strains. A dual-subtype vaccine for FIV released in 2002 called Fel-O-Vax (ATCvet code: QI06AA10 (WHO)) made it possible to immunize cats against more FIV strains. It was developed using inactivated isolates of two of the five FIV subtypes (or clades): A Petaluma and D Shizuoka. The vaccine was shown to be moderately protective (82% of cats were protected) against subtype A FIV, but a later study showed it to offer no protection against sub type A. It has shown 100% effectiveness against two different subtype B FIV strains. Vaccination will cause cats to have positive results on FIV tests, making diagnosis more difficult. For these reasons the vaccine is considered "non-core", and the decision to vaccinate should be made after discussion with a veterinarian and consideration of the risks vs. the effectiveness.
"Don't Shop ... Please Adopt"
If you can’t find the pet you’re looking for on Petfinder, don’t give up. Some shelters maintain waiting lists for specific breeds, so don’t be afraid to ask! There are also breed-specific rescues for just about every breed, and most of them post their pets on Petfinder. (Petfinder can even e-mail you when a pet that fits your criteria is posted — just click “Save this Search” at the top of your search results page.)
Jeff Gold, Founder, Rescue Me! Animal Rescue Network
Jeff Gold lives in Watkinsville, Georgia on the same property as Rescue Me's Animal Rehabilitation Center, with 18 rescue animals. Shown with him in the photo to the left are Maggie, Izzie and Cortez. In 2003, after learning there was nobody doing boxer rescue work in Georgia, Gold founded Boxertown, an organization which helped find homes for over 500 boxers during its first two years. Based upon this success, Gold came up with the vision for Rescue Me! ― a network which helps all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals find good homes, anywhere in the world. RescueShelter.com is also a free service of Rescue Me! and provides the world's largest and most up-to-date directory of animal rescue organizations for all breeds of dogs, cats and other animals, including a comprehensive directory of wildlife rehabilitators in over 150 countries.