<< Back to listing

FIV - Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus was discovered in a cattery in California in 1986. Since then it has been found all around the world and much research has been done due to it's similarity to HIV. Studies done in Australia a few years ago suggest that the prevalence in sick cats to be approximately 25 - 30%.

How do cats get FIV?

It is known that FIV is present in the saliva of infected cats and the main route of transmission is via bite wounds. When a cat has been infected by FIV there is a slow decline in the body's T-cells. These cells play an important role in the body's defence mechanisms against disease. This decline in numbers leaves the cat open to secondary infections. The clinical signs of FIV infection will depend on the type secondary infections which occur

How common is it?

Two Australian studies found the level of FIV infection in sick cats to be 29% and 28% respectively. In the healthy cat population the incidence is likely to be much lower. Adult, free roaming cats are in the highest risk group fro FIV infection

What are the signs of FIV infection?

As with HIV, FIV infection may go undetected for a long time until AIDS develops. Eventually, however, cats infected with FIV will show a range of symptoms including:
  • Lethargy
  • Lack of appetite and weight loss
  • Mouth and gum disease
  • Swollen lymph glands
  • Persistent diarrhoea
  • Respiratory, urinary and skin infections

If a cat presents with the above clinical signs it may have AIDS, the only way to be sure is to perform an FIV antibody test. This involves a simple blood test.

What can I do if my cat has AIDS?

Many cats diagnosed with FIV live good lives. It is important to keep infected cats indoors to prevent them spreading the infection to other cats. As the disease progresses we can treat the different problems as they arise. A healthy diet and stress free environment will help to keep your cat in good condition to cope with these other illnesses as they occur.

Can FIV Infection be prevented ?

Yes !! ... talk to your Vet about vaccination against FIV.