Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
FELINE Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a common virus that affects cats in Victoria and Australia as a whole.
It is a virus speard most commonly by cat bites often from feral or stray male cats, but can be spread by any cat.
The virus over time suppresses the immune system leading to increased suspectibilty to infections and certain cancers.
The FIV virus is closely related to HIV, but luckily humans cannot catch FIV.
How do you know if your cat is infected?
Once infected, a cat may take years before the virus becomes active and starts to cause clinical signs.
The exact time between infection and clinical signs varies greatly between cats.
Most cats that have FIV often are taken to the vet for seemingly unrelated infections e.g. urinary tract infections, skin infection, gingivitis, and others.
Some cats will develop enlarged lymph nodes, fever or lose weight as a direct result of FIV infection.
Often your veterinarian will recommend testing for FIV if you have an outdoor cat that is having repeated or recurrent infections. Diagnosis is based on a simple blood test.
There unfortunately is no current cure for FIV. The disease is generally managed by treating infections and other conditions as they arise.
How can FIV be prevented?
Avoidance is the safest way to protect your cat, by keeping your cat/s indoors or in a cat run.
Minimising feral cat populations by desexing all cats.
Vaccines are also widely available - a course of three vaccines 2-6 weeks apart followed by yearly boosters generally given at the same time as your cat’s core vaccines.
If you are concerned about your cat and potential FIV exposure, contact your veterinarian to discuss testing.