What is it?
•The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) infection is a complex virus that causes immunodeficiency disease in domestic cats
•Immunodeficiency is the medical term used to describe the body’s inability to develop a normal immune response and fight diseases
•Most infected cats do not show symptoms and have normal life expectancy; however they are prone to developing other infections and certain types of cancers that may be deadly
What causes it?
•Transmission of this disease is usually through bite wounds and scratches
•The average age is five years at the time pf diagnosis, and the likelihood of infection increases with age
•Occasional spread from mother to kitten through the placenta can occur
•FIV is shed in most bodily fluids
•Clinical signs are variable, but can include fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and lethargy
•Other less common symptoms may include infections of the mouth, eye inflammation, neurologic signs like wobbly gait, altered awareness, and seizures
•The asymptomatic period can last from months to years
•Various cancers may also occur as a result of infection
What tests are needed?
•Diagnosis is made through blood test
•It is recommended that all cats receive FIV tests at some point in their lives, and is done prior to vaccination
•Routine laboratory tests and x-rays are common
•Further testing depends on the organ system affected
How is it treated?
•No treatment is curative
•Healthy FIV-positive cats need no treatment
•Cats with clinical signs are treated with appropriate medications and supportive care depending upon the clinical signs and organ affected
What follow up care is needed?
•FIV-positive cats should be isolated from other healthy cats
•Healthy positive cats should have routine physical examinations to assess the progression of the disease
•Most FIV-positive may still have a normal, healthy life, but prognosis is guarded