Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), also known as feline AIDS, is often overlooked when it comes to the ongoing health of cats. However, we have diagnosed quite a few local cats with the disease and recent studies show the infection rates are between 14% and 29% in Australian cats.
FIV positive cats will often have a reduced life span although, with correct management, can live normal fulfilling lives. The disease is contracted through blood and saliva contact so outdoor cats, especially those that get into fights, are at the highest risk.
Cats can contract the disease at any stage of their lives but we don’t tend to see symptoms until they get older (around 7-10 years). The virus damages the cat’s immune cells making them unable to fight off infections and other diseases. As a result the symptoms can vary but commonly include mouth ulcers, gingivitis, urinary tract infections, weight loss and increased risk of cancer.
There is no cure for FIV, but fortunately there is a vaccination to protect against the disease. The vaccine is given annually and can be given at the same time as your cat’s other injections.
We strongly recommend vaccination for FIV in any outdoor cat. If your cat will be indoors only they are not at risk.
If cats have been in fights previously, we recommend testing for the virus with a quick blood test performed in the clinic. If the result is positive, we can recommend the correct management to ensure the best health of your cat.