Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is the most common and consequential infectious disease in cats around the world. It can go undetected for years before it presents issues in your furry friend. There is currently no cure for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus but studies show that cats can live a commonly average life span.
Transmission of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
The primary mode of transmission for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is through bite wounds from an infected cat. Casual, non-aggressive contact, such as sharing water bowls or mutual grooming, does not appear to be an efficient route of spreading the virus. As a result, cats in households with stable social structures where housemates do not fight are at little risk of acquiring FIV infections. Only on rare occasions, an infected mother cat may transmit the infection to her kittens. However, if the mother becomes infected with FIV during her pregnancy, the transmission risk to the kittens is increased.
Signs of FIV
There are essentially three phases of infection with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.
Beginning 1-3 months after infection. The virus is spread through the lymph nodes, which can result in enlargement followed by fever, depression, and lack of appetite. This phase of infection may be very mild and is often missed by owners or attributed to other causes of fever.
This phase can last from months to years. During this time, the virus replicates very slowly within the cells of the immune system, and cats will not show any outward signs of illness. Infected cats may exhibit blood work abnormalities, such as low white blood cell levels or increased blood proteins. Some cats will remain in this stage and never progress to more severe disease.
As the virus continues to spread through the immune system, cats will enter a progressive immuno-compromised state during which secondary infections may occur. Cats with FIV will typically develop chronic or recurrent infections of the skin, eyes, urinary tract, or upper respiratory tract.
Make sure to schedule routinely vet visits for your pet to ensure they are healthy!