What is it? Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a lentivirus (“slow virus) from the same retrovirus family as feline leukemia virus, though it differs from feline leukemia virus in its make-up and effects.
Where is it? FIV is found in cats worldwide. In the United States, 1% to 3% of healthy cats are infected with FIV.
How does it happen? FIV is commonly spread by bite wounds. Rarely, a mother cat will pass FIV to her kittens during birth or feeding.
What does it do? FIV slowly causes a cat’s immune system to degenerate such that it cannot protect the body against bacteria or diseases, leading to serious secondary illnesses. Early FIV can be detected in the lymph nodes, resulting in a temporary enlargement of the nodes and usually fever.
What do I do? If your cat has been diagnosed with FIV, there are some steps you can take. A cat with FIV should be spayed or neutered, FIV-positive cats should be fed a balanced diet with no raw egg or raw meat, as that can expose them to bacteria. Wellness visits with your vet should be scheduled at least every six months. Some antiviral treatments have been able to help cats with seizures or stomatitis, though there has been no evidence that antiviral medications help FIV-infected cats across the board.
Where can I learn more? Talk to your vet if you have concerns about FIV and your cat. In addition, visit the link below.