Feline Aids is a viral infection, commonly known as FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus), and is spread by cats fighting. FIV in cats is similar to that of the human variety (although not contagious to humans), being a viral disease that interferes with the immune system of the cat. Just like the human HIV (AIDS), cats infected with FIV have a reduced ability to fight off even the simpliest of infections.
Cats are mostly infected through fighting and biting, as the virus is present in the saliva. This means that older male outdoor cats are most at risk but often new cats to an area are simply attacked by territorial neighbouring cats thus potentially infecting them.
Once infected, cats may still seem healthy and signs may not develop for up to 10 years, however eventually cats with FIV will show a range of non-specific signs of infections as the virus suppresses the immune system. There is no cure and treatment is aimed to stop infections and give supportive care until the disease becomes fatal.
Cats with FIV are also 7-8 times more likely to develop cancers such as lymphoma.
A simple blood test is used to diagnose the presence of FIV. Even with a positive result, a cat can live for years without signs of the disease, and it is not clear if all infected cats will become ill. However you should keep your cat indoors to prevent spreading the disease, and to prevent it from picking up other infections once the immune system is affected.
There is now a vaccine available that offers good protection and we are vaccinating more and more kittens and adults against FIV. It requires 3 seperate injections over a 4 to 8 week period followed by annual boosters.
If you would like more information about FIV or would like to have your cat vaccinated please contact us.