Feline Immunodefficiecy Virus - FIV - Bedfordview Vets

Go to content

Feline Immunodefficiecy Virus - FIV



This viral condition is also known as feline AIDS. Similarly to human AIDS virus, it causes immunosupression in affected cats. Age group, most commonly affected, are cats between 5-12 years of age, and is more prevalent in males than females. Transmission of the virus is mainly via fighting, when bite wounds get contaminated by saliva containing the virus. Feline AIDS does not spread to other species (humans or dogs).
Symptoms associated with feline AIDS are directly related to it’s immunosuppressive nature. Mouth infection, wounds that are reluctant to heal, recurrent abscesses, prolonged gastroenteritis are  just more common manifestation of the disease.
Since there is not known cure or vaccination against this ultimately fatal disease, the best prevention rests on identifying and testing the blood of all suspected cats. Positive reactors must be isolated from the rest of cat population. In multi cat households this is not always practical, and for the sake of other cats, affected animals should be put to sleep.


This is yet another, common and ultimately fatal viral condition of cats. It usually affects cats 1-5 years old. As it’s name says, it causes “leukaemia – like” changes in the body, as well as immunosupression. Many cats can be carriers of this virus, without showing symptoms of the disease and yet, spreading it within the population. Main mode of transmission is through fighting, although, pregnant queens can spread the virus to unborn kittens in uterus.
Symptoms of the disease are very similar to feline AIDS, and in addition, these cats are very anaemic, with enlarged lymph nodes that can progress to cancer stage – lymphosarcoma.
Unlike FIV, vaccine for this virus is available and kindly recommended to  cat’s breeders in particular. Early detection and isolation of positive cats is highly suggested.


This viral disease usually affects very young (6-24 months old) or very old cats ( over 10 years of age). It is mainly transmitted by direct contact with affected cat(s) and/or in uterus in pregnant queens. There are two distinct forms of this disease. First, so called “wet form” and implies to fluid accumulation in body cavities. Second form, also known as “ dry form”, usually affects nervous system of cat ( brain, eyes, spinal cord), as well as  other organs (kidneys, liver, intestines, thymus, skin) making these organs look lumpy and uneven.
Symptoms of “wet FIP” are obvious – swollen abdomen, cough, exercise intolerance. Dry form can manifest its self as meningitis, infection of uvea of the eye – uveitis, or hind leg paralysis. If it happens to involve any of the other organs mentioned above, it causes great deal of disfunction of such organ/system with detrimental effects.
Diagnosis is usually based on typical symptoms, as well as blood and fluid laboratory analysis. Since this is ultimately fatal disease, treatment is based on supportive care of affected patient.

Back to content