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Cat immunodeficiency virus

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Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is the cat equivalent of HIV. Approximately 1-5% of cats are infected. Once a cat is infected with FIV they remain so persistently for the rest of their life.

What is feline immunodeficiency virus?

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is the cat equivalent of HIV. It’s important to note that people can't be infected with FIV, while approximately 1-5% of cats carry the virus.

Once a cat is infected with FIV they remain so persistently for the rest of their life.

How is FIV spread in the cat community?

FIV is spread through fighting and biting, so it is seen more frequently in younger, non-sterilised cats with outdoor access, especially when they are establishing a territory.

It can also be spread through blood transfusions if the blood is not pre-screened.

What happens if cats are infected with feline immunodeficiency virus?

FIV progresses very slowly over several years, destroying the cat’s white blood cells – this means they lose their ability to fight disease. This reduction of the immune system results in susceptibility to secondary infection, while they will take longer to get over everyday illnesses and diseases.

What are the symptoms of FIV?

A cat suffering from FIV will show several different symptoms. As an owner, you should pay particular attention to any:

  • Weight loss
  • Fevers
  • Infections
  • Diarrhoea
  • Lethargy

Affected cats may also develop neurological disease and some cancers.

Are there tests to understand whether my cat has FIV?

Your vet will be able to determine whether your car or kitten has been infected with FIV through a blood test.

If my cat has FIV, should I consider euthanasia?

Having FIV is no reason for euthanasia, but sensible health precautions need to be followed and cats should not be allowed to roam free as they risk infecting other cats.

Can I get my cat or kitten vaccinated against FIV?

Unfortunately there is no vaccine against FIV available.

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