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What Is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)?

Update Time:2023/10/6
When most owners see feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), you may not be familiar with what it is. But if you are told that this is commonly known as HIV in cats, maybe you will get a general idea. The mortality rate of cats infected with FIV is not as high as that of humans infected with AIDS. People who have the disease are usually able to live a normal life. FIV does not infect humans and there is a vaccine against it.

What are the symptoms of FIV?

Cats infected with FIV generally do not show any symptoms for many years. Once symptoms appear, however, the cat's immune system is weakened, leading to a variety of secondary infections. The main symptoms of FIV infection in cats are: swollen lymph nodes, fever, anemia, diarrhea, weight loss, loss of appetite, abnormal or inflamed eyes (conjunctivitis), inflamed gums (gingivitis), red skin or hair loss, sneezing, discharge from the eyes or nose, frequent urination, and abnormal behavior.
Route of FIV infection

Unlike HIV in humans, FIV is not transmitted sexually, but mainly through saliva from cats sharing meals and wounds from fighting.

Another, less common form of transmission is from a female cat infected with FIV to her kittens. Infection is generally passed from an infected mother cat to her kittens through the birth canal or when the newborn kittens ingest breast milk.

How to prevent FIV?

In the United States, about 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats are infected with FIV. Unfortunately, there is no clear cure for FIV. The most common test for FIV is to detect the presence of antibodies to the virus in the blood. Cats with FIV without proper treatment can develop a variety of cancers, blood diseases, or kidney failure that can eventually kill the cat. Therefore, prevention of FIV virus is very important. If you find any infected cats, be sure to keep your cat indoors to avoid any contact with infected cats; If you are going to walk your cat, keep it on a leash; If your cat plans to stay with other felines in the cattery or at home, make sure all cats test negative for FIV; Any recently adopted cat should be tested for FIV before entering your home; If possible, you can also take your cat for FIV vaccination.
How to care for a cat with FIV?

Although it is impossible to predict how long a FIV-infected cat will survive, if properly managed, a FIV-infected cat can live to a normal lifespan. Once your cat has been diagnosed with FIV, be sure to keep your cat indoors, away from other healthy cats; Take your cat to the vet at least twice a year for health checks, including blood tests and urine analysis; Pay special attention to the health of its gums, eyes, skin and lymph nodes; Always measure your cat's weight and record it, as weight loss is often the first sign of deterioration; Provide them with a nutritionally balanced diet, avoiding raw foods such as raw meat and eggs and unpasteurized dairy products to reduce the risk of foodborne bacterial and parasitic infections; Spay or neuter your cat.

Many FIV-infected cats live with other cats for years before they are diagnosed. In this case, all other cats in the home should have an FIV test. Ideally, all infected cats should be separated from uninfected cats to eliminate the possibility of FIV transmission. Because FIV is primarily transmitted through bites, it is much less likely that an infected cat will pass it on to an uninfected cat in situations where cats are not fighting each other.

In order to prevent cats with FIV disease from spreading the virus to other uninfected cats, clean and disinfect the house, and change food and water dishes, bedding, litter dishes and toys in time. A diluted solution of household bleach is an excellent disinfectant. It is also recommended to use suitable cleaners for carpet cleaning and floor scrubbing. Any new cat or kitten should be properly vaccinated against other infectious agents before entering the home.

NOTE:Feral or stray cats are usually a high incidence group of feline immunodeficiency virus. Therefore, when owners take their cats out, it is best to avoid contact between them and feral/stray cats to prevent them from arguing and getting injured and contracting the disease. If the cat is found to have symptoms, it should also be treated as soon as possible.