FIV, or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, affects cats worldwide. FIV is the most-similar to human HIV. Symptoms sometimes do not manifest until up to a year after contracting the virus. Once it begins to manifest the cat’s immune system is weakened greatly, which leads them at risk for other diseases. FIV is not typically fatal for cats, as they can live relatively healthily as carriers and transmitters of the disease for many years. There is a vaccine, but, the jury is out on how effective it is, as there is a record of cats getting the disease even after being vaccinated.
According to petMD here are some of the signs of FIV:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Weight loss
- Disheveled coat
- Poor appetite
- Abnormal appearance or inflammation of the eye (conjunctivitis)
- Inflammation of the gums (gingivitis)
- Inflammation of the mouth (stomatitis)
- Dental disease
- Skin redness or hair loss
- Wounds that don’t heal
- Discharge from eyes or nose
- Frequent urination, straining to urinate or urinating outside of litter box
- Behavior change
The initial stage, or acute phase, is accompanied by mild symptoms such as lethargy, anorexia, fever, and lymphadenopathy. This phase is usually short-lived and quickly followed by the asymptomatic stage. This stage can last for months or years. The final stage, feline acquired immune deficiency syndrome, is when the cat is extremely susceptible to secondary diseases that inevitably are the cause of death.
FIV is mainly transferred between cats from deep bite wounds, where the infected cat’s saliva enters the other cat’s tissues. Or, an FIV infected cat gives birth and passes it on to her litter, though this type of transmission is more rare. It is not spread by more casual, non-aggressive contact such as mutual grooming and sharing of food bowls.
To best prevent your cat from contracting FIV, you should not let her roam free and into the wild. It is best to keep her in a designated area or inside if at all possible. You should take your cat to the vet as soon as you suspect your cat to have FIV. There is no cure for FIV. Your vet may prescribe your cat some medications, anti-inflammatory drugs, a healthier diet, or fluid/electrolyte replacement therapy.