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Nine Lives Not Enough: Feline AIDS Threatens Danish Tabbies, Tomcats

CC0 / / Cat doctor
Cat doctor - Sputnik International
Despite the common saying that cats have nine lives, they are nevertheless susceptible to deadly diseases. An outbreak of feline immunodeficiency virus, also known as FIV or 'cat AIDS' has spurred Danish authorities into taking decisive action.

After an outbreak of feline AIDS in the Danish village of Sønder Onsild near the town of Hobro in northern Denmark, the local authorities decided to catch all of the community's stray cats. The deadly virus has so far been found in at least nine stray cats, the local newspaper Nordjyske reported.

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To stop the proliferation of the disease, the local municipality agreed to work with Animal Protection Aarhus, as well as the local cat shelter Min Ven Katten ("My Cat Friend") to capture all the strays in the area. All cats captured on a number of dates over the next month that test positive for the disease will be put down. Cats that test negative, however, will be kept at cat shelters or other institutions.

Local cat owners were urged to keep their pets indoors during this period unless they have collars, identifying ear tattoos or ID chips.

As the name suggests, feline immunodeficiency virus is largely similar to HIV in humans: it drastically weakens a cat's immune defense, making it more susceptible to other diseases and ultimately leading to death. Fortunately, it can't be passed to humans or other animal species, but cats still can infect each other via biting or scratching. There is no possible vaccination or cure against the disease. Up to 4.4 percent of cats worldwide are said to be infected with FIV. Kittens can be infected as fetuses and can therefore be born as carriers.

Feline AIDS is diagnosed through a blood test. Sometimes it takes up to several years for a cat to develop symptoms of the infection, such as general sickliness, weakness and mouth cavity infections.

This risk of contracting the disease can be somewhat reduced if the cat is neutered or spayed, as less aggressive cats are less likely to scratch and bite.

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