The virus only affects cats, so there’s no risk of infection for people or other species in contact with FIV positive cats.
An FIV-positive cat will remain infected with the virus for life. After a period that may last several years, the virus may damage the cat’s immune response and lead to signs of disease. Infected cats who receive supportive medical care, a good diet and are kept in a stress-free environment can live comfortable lives with a normal lifespan.
How is FIV passed on?
Once a cat has contracted FIV it is capable of transmitting the disease to other cats. FIV is mainly passed from cat to cat through bite wounds during fights or through mating. Another, less common mode of transmission is from an FIV-infected mother cat to her kittens.
What are the signs of FIV?
- Initial, or first-stage, symptoms include loss of appetite, fever, lethargy, diarrhoea, swollen lymph nodes and low white blood cell count. Cats infected with FIV start to become listless, don’t groom themselves properly and are prone to other infections
- Second-stage cats may recover and show no symptoms, yet become lifelong carriers
- Third-stage cats experience changes in appetite, toileting changes, weight loss, smelly, sore mouths, drooling, poor coat through lack of grooming and secondary infections, which become more frequent and resistant to treatment.
How is it diagnosed?
Your vet can diagnose whether your cat has the FIV infection using a blood test.