Feline Aids

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), also known as feline AIDS, is a type of virus that affects cats. FIV can affect both domesticated cats and cats in the wild.

The disease is more common in cats that are frequently outside and is also more common in male cats than female cats. Approximately 1 percent to 8 percent of all cats are affected by FIV.

Feline AIDS Transmission

In most cases, feline immunodeficiency virus is spread through bites when saliva is transmitted through the open wound.

Symptoms of Feline AIDS

Just as with HIV and AIDS in humans, feline immunodeficiency virus has different stages:

  1. First Stage: Often called the acute phase, this stage of the disease occurs about one month to six weeks after initially being infected. Cats may experience fever and swollen lymph nodes during this stage and may also have skin or intestinal infections.
  2. Second Stage: Sometimes called the latent stage, there is no infection or sign of disease during this stage. The second stage can last for many years. The immune system is often being destroyed during this stage even though symptoms may not be visible.
  3. Third Stage: This stage is most like AIDS in people. This stage most often occurs in older cats (age 5 or older) and cats in this stage experience many infections due to a destroyed immune system. Normally these infections would be fought off by antibodies in the immune system. Specific complications include:
    • anemia
    • cancer
    • ear diseases or infection
    • intestinal infections
    • respiratory infection
    • skin diseases.

Once a cat reaches this stage, he will usually only live for one year or less.

Other infections that can be seen in feline AIDS include oral infections and eye diseases. Neurological disorders can also occur. These types of disorders may affect a cat’s behavior drastically and a cat may even forget his house-training.

Treatment of Feline AIDS

Treatment of feline AIDS can vary from cat to cat based on which types of infections or complications he develops. While there is no cure for the disease, it’s important to see your veterinarian regularly if your cat has FeLV.

Vaccinations and medications can be used to treat symptoms, prevent further infection and delay full onset of the disease. FeLV-positive cats should be separated from other cats and should not be allowed outside. This will protect the cat from further infection and will prevent him from giving feline AIDS to other cats.

Feline AIDS Prevention

The only way to prevent feline AIDS is to prevent your cat from having contact with an FeLV-positive cat. In some cases, such as when cats are allowed to wander outdoors, this may be impossible. Vaccines for FeLV have not yet produced conclusive results and are therefore not widely used.

Have your cat checked regularly by a veterinarian if he is allowed outdoors to ensure that any diseases or infections are discovered and diagnosed early on. Treatments for cat diseases are more effective if discovered in their early stages.