FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus) is a virus that affects cats worldwide. 45 million cats are infected with FIV. The virus is present in the blood and saliva of infected cats. Not just pet cats but also the “big” cats can be infected with FIV. For instance, Florida panthers are one of the most endangered large mammals in the world because of FIV.
The ways of FIV transmission are deep bite wounds and scratches, where the infected cat’s blood-tainted saliva enters the other cat’s bloodstream. FIV is mainly passed from cat to cat through deep bite wounds, the kind that usually occur outdoors during aggressive fights and territorial disputes. Isn’t it a good reason not to let your cat go outside?
It has not been proved that the virus is transmitted sexually, although often the tom cat will hold onto the scruff of the female's neck with his teeth, so if the skin is punctured at that point, transmission is possible.
Another way of transmission is from an FIV-infected mother cat to her kitten. FIV may also be transmitted from pregnant females to their toms.
FIV progresses through similar stages to HIV in humans. The early stage is short and is followed by the asymptomatic stage. Here the cat demonstrates no noticeable symptoms for a variable length of time. Some cats stay in this stage for only a few months, but for some it can last for years. An FIV-infected cat may not show any symptoms for years. On the other hand cats show some symptoms in the final stage such as fever, swollen lymph nodes, lethargy, weight loss, lack of appetite, depression and diarrhea.
Finally the cat progresses into the final stage known as FAIDS (Feline Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome), where the cat is extremely susceptible to secondary diseases which are the cause of death.
Don’t forget, FIV cannot be transmitted from cat to human, only from cat to cat and neither FIV nor HIV spreads through insect bites or animal scratching.
See you soon!