The MyStetho blog

Cats and FIV: Symptoms, Causes and Treatments

Feline immunodeficiency virus, or cat FIV, is a retrovirus infection first discovered in cats in the United States. FIV-positive cats can have the virus in their system for years before showing signs of illness.
The virus works by killing or damaging a cat's immune system cells, often targeting white blood cells. Continued damage from FIV in cats ultimately leads to a weakening of the immune system. Once this happens, cats with FIV can become vulnerable to secondary infections.
People often think that FIV and feline leukemia virus are the same diseases because they can cause similar symptoms in cats. Although both derive from the retrovirus family, they are different diseases.
What are the symptoms of Cat FIV?
Because the cat FIV virus can move slowly through a cat's system, your cat can go on for years without showing any noticeable symptoms. Once a cat begins to show signs of illness, the illness can cause bouts of illness followed by long periods of apparent good health.
It's a good idea to take your cat for a veterinary checkup if he starts showing any of the following FIV symptoms:
Bad condition of the coat
Fever that keeps coming back
Lack of appetite
Inflammation in the mouth and gums
Chronic or recurring infections in the eyes, skin, upper respiratory tract, or bladder
Constant diarrhea
Persistent eye problems
Behavioral changes
Signs of neurological disorders
Symptoms of FIV in cats can also include slow and steady weight loss. Many felines infected with the disease eventually develop some form of cancer or blood disease.
How Is IVF Cat Transmitted?
Most cases of cat FIV come from an infected cat passing it to another through a deep bite. This makes outdoor cats particularly vulnerable as they can end up in a territorial dispute which leads to such an injury. A mother cat infected with the cat FIV virus can transmit it to her kittens. Although FIV is contagious, cats generally do not transmit the virus by sharing a food bowl with other cats or through other feline contact actions such as:
grooming social
Sharing a litter box
A cat cannot transmit the FIV virus to a human. They can only pass five to another cat. You can help prevent your cat from getting the virus by:
Keep them indoors to avoid potential contact with infected cats.
Put a leash on your cat when walking it outside.
Check that all cats that will be around your pet for extended periods of time have tested negative for FIV.
Make sure newly adopted cats are tested for FIVE years.
Although FIV vaccination is generally not advised, you can discuss it with your veterinarian.
FIV infections are most common in middle-aged cats between 5 and 10 years old. Male cats are twice as likely as females to be infected with FIV.
How Do You Diagnose Cat FIV?
If you start seeing potential signs of the FIV cat virus in your pet, you should have them checked out by a veterinarian. It's a good idea to write down any cat FIV symptoms you've observed and pass them on to the doctor. It would also help if you keep your cat from going outside until you receive confirmation that he has IVF. This way you can prevent your pet from transmitting the virus to other cats.
Veterinarians typically diagnose FIV in cats by performing blood tests that look for specific antibodies present in an infected cat's blood. Your doctor may opt for additional tests before making an IVF diagnosis. It is especially important to have pregnant cats tested for the virus, as they can transmit FIV to their kittens.
What are the treatments for CAT IVF?
There is no antiviral remedy specifically available for the treatment of FIV in cats. Most veterinarians emphasize trying to keep a cat symptomless for an extended period of time. One study found that FIV-positive cats live an average of 5 years after diagnosis, but their prognosis can vary widely.
If symptoms of IVF begin to appear, they treat any secondary illnesses that result from the virus. Treatments often recommended to help cats with FIV include:
Medicines to help with secondary infections
Fluid and electrolyte replacement therapy
Parasite control
Medicines to boost the immune system
Drugs that help inflammation
An easy diet for the cat's system
Your veterinarian may also recommend the following tips for caring for FIV positive cats:
Keep the cat indoors to protect their immune system and avoid infecting other cats.
Neutral male cats to prevent territorial behavior.
Spaying female cats to prevent FIV from being passed on to future offspring.
Watch for any changes in the cat's behavior or health.
Take the cat at least twice a year for a veterinary exam which includes a urinalysis and a complete blood count.
Eliminate raw foods and eggs from their diet.
Antiviral treatments like interferons or antiviral medications like AZT can help extend the periods when your cat is symptom-free. Early treatment for FIV can prolong the life expectancy of an FIV-infected cat and allow them to have a fairly good quality of life.