What is feline AIDS?
Feline AIDS is a virus caused by infection with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV). This virus, like the human form (HIV), interferes with the immune system of the cat, making it unable to fight harmful infections.
How is it spread?
FIV is most commonly spread by biting, as the virus is shed in high levels in saliva. The spread of FIV through grooming, sharing water bowls, or from a mother to her unborn foetus is extremely unlikely.
What are the signs?
Cats infected with FIV may remain healthy for up to 10 years. While some infected cats will show no signs of FIV, others may have symptoms such as:
- loss of appetite
- swollen lymph nodes
- weight loss
- sores around eyes and in mouth
- chronic infections
- poor coat
How prevalent is FIV?
In Victoria research has shown that approximately 26% of cats test positive to FIV.
What can I do to prevent FIV?
Vaccination is the best way to prevent the spread of FIV as there is no cure or treatment. Cats require 3 initial doses of the FIV vaccine (at 2-4 weekly intervals), then an annual booster. FIV vaccine can be given to kittens from 8 weeks of age, this can be done with their normal vaccinations for feline respiratory diseases and feline enteritis.
Although feline immunodeficiency virus is related to the human form (HIV), no human has ever been reported to be infected with FIV.