FIV vaccine for cats

Veterinarians in Moose Jaw, Sask. say a virus similar to HIV is spreading quickly in feral cats.

Regina vet, Lesley Sawa, said Feline Immuno-Deficiency Virus or FIV is similar to HIV in people and it's mainly contracted through fighting when blood and saliva enter open wounds. 

"It has a lot of similar characteristics to the HIV virus, but for cats they will really just carry it for a long time without showing any signs," said Sawa. 

She said the only way to know if the cat carries the virus it to have it tested. 

"Often cats with the FIV virus will have gingivitis, mouth lesions, teeth problems," said Sawa. "They can have neurological problems. Sometimes they'll develop cancers, but in general a lot of cats can harbour that virus and not have any signs at all."

Veterinarians are alarmed about the virus because they said about 15 per cent of the cats in Moose Jaw carry FIV, which is more than the Canadian average at five per cent. 

There is a vaccine for the virus, but its effectiveness remains questionable. 

FIV cannot be spread to humans.