Cat FIV Symptoms

Cat FIV, also known as feline immunodeficiency virus, can be a devastating diagnosis to any cat owner. FIV is known for attacking the immune system and making it nearly impossible for your cat to fight anything from a simple head cold to cancer. It is known as a lentivirus, meaning that it progresses slowly and it is almost always fatal.

Transmission of Cat FIV

Cat FIV is more common in wild, outdoor cats than in house cats. It is estimated that only 3% of all house cats are infected with FIV. Because FIV is contracted through saliva, it is most commonly spread through bite wounds. Bite wounds are naturally more common in non-domesticated cats that roam free and hunt for their food. Most house cats do not become infected with FIV because they either have no other cats in the home, or they get along with them very well. However, the risk factor for indoor cats is transmission of saliva through food and water bowls.

FIV can be transmitted from a mother to her kittens. It is not thought that they are infected while they are in the womb; but when they feed from her milk, which is contaminated with FIV, there is the possibility of transmission.

Symptoms of Cat FIV

FIV is a slowly progressing condition which eventually leads to an immune system that is too weak to fight off anything. Because FIV attacks the immune system slowly, normal environmental bacteria and viruses may not affect your cat initially. However, as FIV progress, it will inhibit the immune system from performing its job effectively. This is important to remember because it is possible that your cat could be infected for several years before even showing signs of a problem.

When you do start to see symptoms of FIV in your cat, they will vary depending upon which are of the body has been affected. Any of the systems of the body, such as the respiratory and nervous, may be affected. In other cases, the eyes, stomach or skin may be affected. However, in general, some of the symptoms to watch for include:

  • Dull unkempt hair coat
  • Fever
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of neurological functions, such as head control
  • Jaundice or paling of the gums, ears, tongue and nose
  • Diarrhea
  • Seizures
  • Loss of coordination
  • Severe loss of weight

Diagnosis and Prevention of Cat FIV

Diagnosing FIV consists of a simple blood test to find out if antibodies against FIV are present. The only thing that this test can do is accurately determine whether or not your cat is infected with the virus. However, if your cat is found to be infected with the virus, the virus may not actually harm your cat until years later when the immune system has been completely weakened.

It is important to know if your cat is infected with FIV because that puts any other cats around him at risk for developing it. If you know that your cat is infected, you can prevent the spread of FIV by eliminating contact between an infected cat and a non-infected cat.

Treatment and Prognosis of Cat FIV

Unfortunately, there is no treatment available that will cure FIV. It is simply something that your cat will be carrying with him until his immune system becomes unstable and he develops a secondary condition. However, when your cat does develop a secondary condition, such as cancer, anemia or respiratory infection, there is the possibility of treating the current condition to make your cat more comfortable. But it is important to remember that nothing will stop the progression of FIV.

Cat FIV is almost always fatal and there is no way to cure it. Some cats will only live a few days after diagnosis, whereas others will fight for several months.