Feline Aids

Is Feline Aids (FAIDS) the same as FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus)?

A cat infected with FIV is in the early stages of FAIDS, much like a human being who is HIV positive is in the early stages of Aids.

FAIDS is the terminal degree of feline immunodeficiency virus infection.

FIV wrecks a cat's immune system preventing it from fighting off other infections and ailments.

Cats with the virus will, over time, succumb to a range of secondary afflictions that, in the end, usually prove fatal.

There is not a cure for FIV or feline aids, however, with proper care, infected cats can survive for many years, perhaps even with a good quality of life, before passing on.

How is FIV Spread?

Feline immunodeficiency virus is commonly spread through saliva and thus by bite wounds from an infected cat.

Male cats, particularly unaltered males, are at a higher risk if allowed to roam, as they are very likely to fight.

Sexual activity is not a principal cause of spreading FIV/feline aids.

Passing of FIV from a mother cat to her kittens through the placenta is possible, although exceptional. Transmission may take place when an infected mother bites through the umbilical cord or licks her kittens but this is thought to be very low risk.

Kittens can also be infected through the virus being present in the mother cat's milk. It is estimated that up to a third of the kittens born to an FIV infected mother are also liable to be infected.

Feline Aids Symptoms

Following the primary infection, the feline immunodeficiency virus spreads to nearby lymph nodes and in time to all the lymph nodes.

brown cat sittingThere is no known cure for FIV. Any treatment comprises of supportive care and dealing with the complications that may arise.
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This stage of infection is usually without symptoms and lasts from days to months.

Then follows the second stage in which FIV may lie dormant and again usually there are no symptoms.

This stage is referred to as the sub clinical phase and may last for years.

During the third and final stage, often called the chronic infection stage or feline aids, the cat's immune system is weakened making it vulnerable to diseases and infections that would not overly affect a healthy cat.

Some of the symptoms and conditions include:

  • Poor coat condition, skin infections.
  • Mouth, tooth and gum problems.
  • Very poor appetite.
  • Chronic diarrhea.
  • Continuous fever.
  • Progressive weight loss.
  • Chronic abscesses and wounds that are slow to heal.
  • Eye problems – Cataracts, Conjunctivitis, Keratitis, Glaucoma.
  • Ear infections.
  • Anemia.
  • Seizures.
  • Tumors – lymphomas.
  • Psychomotor problems - shaky manner of walking. Stillbirths.

The above list is not exhaustive. If your cat displays any of the above symptoms it does not necessary mean that your pet has FIV or feline aids of course.

You will want to take your cat for a complete physical examination. Your veterinarian can conduct an FIV blood test to determine whether the feline immunodeficiency virus is present.

In the case of kittens under six months old it is possible for the test to show that the kitten is infected when, in fact, it isn’t. This is because a kitten that is nursing can bear the antibodies of its mother without having the virus itself.

Re-testing when the kitten is over six months will be more dependable.

Can I Keep My FIV Positive Cat With My Other Cats?

Often FIV Positive cats are not diagnosed as having the virus until they have lived with other cats for some time. It is important therefore for you to have all your cats tested.

The risk of transmission of FIV or feline aids between cats through normal social interaction alone is small, so there is a probability that your other cats will be uninfected.

If your FIV positive cat is a fighter, or there is a chance that he, or she, would bite another of your cats then it would be safest for that cat to be separated.

If you do keep all your cats together it would be wise to feed the FIV positive cat separately as saliva can include large amounts of the feline immunodeficiency virus.

Needless to say that an infected cat should be kept indoors.

FAIDS and Humans

Feline Aids (FAIDS) is not the same as Human AIDS. The two are genetically similar but the feline virus is not transmittable to humans, and the human virus is not transmittable to cats.

It is perfectly safe to be around an infected cat, and perfectly safe for cats to be around HIV humans.

Prevention and Treatment

There is no known cure for FIV or feline Aids. Any treatment comprises of supportive care and dealing with the complications that may ensue such as secondary infections and diseases.

Preventing an infected cat from going outside and socializing with other cats may be instrumental in lessening the risk of secondary illness.

Vaccination against FIV is now available in some places. If you are thinking about vaccination for your cat then please discuss the issue with your veterinarian first.

Because of the way the vaccine works if an FAIDS test is done the results will show that your cat is infected even though it may be free of the virus. It is important that your cat is identified with a microchip at the time of vaccination and that a test is carried out prior to the cat being vaccinated to make sure it does not have the virus.

A yearly booster is necessary for protection to continue.

Your veterinarian is best qualified to offer advice about FIV and Feline Aids.

Cat Illnesses

Feline Vomiting
If you share your home with a cat, sooner or later you will encounter feline vomiting. All cats throw up sometimes.

Cat Body Language.
If you share your life with a cat you probably know more about cat body language than you think you do. Do you know when your cat is feeling angry, fearful, contented or at ease?


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