Cat Diseases - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Feline immunodeficiency virus
  • The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection is a complex retrovirus that causes immunodeficiency disease in domestic cats.
  • FIV belongs to the lentivirus family and it is related to the HIV virus in humans which is a causative agent of AIDS.
  • Although the virus is slow-acting, a cat’s immune system is severely weakened once the disease takes hold. This makes the cat susceptible to various secondary infections.
  • FIV is a transmissible disease that occurs more often in males because of their tendency to be more aggressive, and because they are more likely to roam, thereby increasing their exposure to the virus.
  • FIV is species specific. It can only be transmitted from cat to cat, not to humans or other animals.
  • There is no evidence that the disease is transmitted by mating. However, if a queen becomes infected while pregnant, she may pass the virus on to her unborn kittens.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Anemia
  • Weight loss
  • Disheveled coat
  • Poor appetite
  • Diarrhea
  • Abnormal appearance or inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis)
  • Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
  • Inflammation of the mouth (stomatitis)
  • Dental disease
  • Skin redness or hair loss
  • Wounds that don’t heal
  • Sneezing
  • Discharge from eyes or nose
  • Frequent urination, straining to urinate or urinating outside of litter box
  • Behavior change
  • Long-term (chronic) kidney insufficiency
Feline immunodeficiency
  • You can vaccinate your cat against the virus but It does not provide 100% protection, and vaccinated cats will test positive on the antibody test.
  • Protect your cat from coming into contact with cats that are FIV positive.
  • Quarantine and test new cats that are coming into your household until you are sure that they are free of the virus.
  • FIV-infected cats should be spayed or neutered.
  • There is currently no effective treatment for FIV virus infection.
  • Treatment focuses mainly on extending the asymptomatic period or, if symptoms have set in, on easing the secondary effects of the virus.
  • Your veterinarian may prescribe some of the following treatments:
    • Medication for secondary infections
    • Healthy, palatable diet to encourage good nutrition
    • Fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy
    • Anti-inflammatory drugs
    • Immune-enhancing drugs
    • Parasite control