What is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus?
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a disease specific to cats and very similar to HIV in humans. It is very common in non-castrated male cats as it is spread by cats biting each other.
The symptoms to look for if you think your cat may have been exposed to FIV include: sneezing, discharge from the eyes and nose, high temperature, diarrhoea, anaemia, skin infections, loss of appetite, anorexia, swollen lymph glands and gingivitis (inflammation of the gums). Cats with FIV may appear outwardly healthy for years, but their immune systems are weak and they are susceptible to infections.
What causes FIV?
FIV affects the health of a cat by killing or damaging his white blood cells, which are responsible for fighting off infection.
There is currently no treatment for FIV and treatment consists of fighting any secondary infections with antibiotics. Cats that have been diagnosed with FIV should be kept indoors to prevent them fighting with other cats and spreading the infection. The virus does not survive very long in the environment so cats can live together, though separate bowls should be used, as the virus is present in saliva.
If you think your cat has FIV, contact your vet immediately.
There is currently no vaccine in the UK to prevent FIV. The only way to prevent the disease from infecting your cat is to stop him mixing and fighting with others.