What is it?
• Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) 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 of diagnosis, and the likelihood of infection increases with age.
• Occasional spread from mother to kitten through the placenta can occur.
• FIV is spread 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 that it 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 on the clinical signs and the organ affected.
What follow up care is needed?
• FIV-positive cats should be isolated from other healthy cats.
• Healthy FIV-positive cats should have routine physical examinations to assess the progression of the disease.
• Most FIV-positive cats may still have a normal, healthy life, but prognosis is guarded.