Feline AIDS: what you should know about it?

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) in felines, first identified in 1986, is similar to the AIDS virus in humans. Let’s know more about this deadly disease.

Like HIV, FIV is referred as ‘Feline AIDS’ and it may lay dormant for years before symptoms occur. The cat can live a normal and healthy life, even up to 10 years, without developing any symptoms of the disease.

Transmission of FIV

The virus is transmitted from cat to cat through deep bite wounds (major route), blood transfusions, sexually, but not through urine, bowl sharing and snuggling. The virus is shed through saliva. The disease can also be passed on by the mother cat to her kittens, but this is rare. The intact male cats who roam and fight are at a greatest risk. The virus is not transmitted to humans or dogs.

Problems associated with FIV

If the virus becomes active, it attacks the cat’s immune system, making it ineffective in combating infections and diseases. Eventually, the cat succumbs to the secondary diseases. FIV-infected cats may show nonspecific signs such as lethargy, loss of appetite, fever, swollen lymph nodes (lymphadenopathy) and weight loss.

Shun the disease!

There is no cure for this deadly disease for now but a vaccine has recently become available to help reduce the risk of acquiring this deadly disease. Meanwhile, the best method to protect your furry friend would be to keep him indoors and have him neutered.

(Sudhersena is volunteer at the Blue Cross since 1998 and an avid animal lover, owns nine cats and three dogs. She is associated with a number of animal welfare campaigns and programmes.)