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What is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

cat with feline immunodeficiency virus

What is FIV?

FIV is a retrovirus belonging to the lentivirus family that changes the genome of cells.

FIV can cause a permanent infection that eventually leads to diminished function of the immune system and various clinical conditions. It was first discovered in 1986 in California when certain cats appeared to have an illness like AIDS in people.

What Causes the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)?

Although the virus can infect any cat, the average age of cats infected with FIV is 3 to 5-year-old. It is spread by close contact and from mother to kittens across the placenta. It may also be spread by blood transfusions or by equipment that is contaminated with infected blood or other body fluids. Male cats are twice as likely as female cats to contract FIV.

The virus is found in most body fluids. It is susceptible to drying, sunlight, disinfectants, and detergents, and it does not survive well in the environment. It can sometimes persist long enough in shared food and water bowls, litter boxes, and on other items to infect other cats.

feline immunodeficiency virus (fiv)
what is feline immunodeficiency virus

Feline immunodeficiency virus


What are the Clinical Signs of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)?

Signs for FIV can be quite variable. Symptoms such as fever, enlarged lymph nodes, and lethargy may occur soon after infection, but may be so mild that they are not noticed. Then, cats then enter a prolonged asymptomatic phase. Infection occurs when cats are severely immune deficient. During this phase, secondary infections and other conditions may be seen.

A cat infected with FIV may exhibit symptoms including fever, lethargy, and infections of the mouth. Neurologic signs such as ataxia (lack of voluntary coordination of muscle movements), altered mental awareness, and seizures may be seen. Inflammation of the eye and various cancers, such as lymphoma, may develop.

Following initial infection, FIV is carried to regional lymph nodes. The virus infects T – lymphocytes then is carried to the other lymph nodes in the body. Once the virus has spread to other lymph nodes, it begins to target macrophages, large cells formed by the immune system in response to an infection.

cat with feline immunodeficiency virus (fiv)

What are the Diagnostic Tests?

When a sick cat is diagnosed with FIV infection, it may be difficult to determine whether the presenting problem is caused by FIV or by some other disease.

Routine laboratory tests and X-rays are often recommended to investigate the clinical signs. Testing is also done prior to vaccination against FIV. Also, because cats can be asymptomatic and transmit the infection to other cats, it is recommended that cats be tested for FIV.

cat fiv testing

What are the Treatment Options for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)?

No treatment is proven to eliminate FIV infection. Some antiviral drugs and immune-modulating drugs have been tried, but no treatment is curative. Cats that are FIV-positive can be treated with appropriate medications and supportive care for their symptoms. In addition to a vet-prescribed treatment plan, we recommend dietary supplements for FIV that can help by providing comprehensive support.

How Can I Take Care of a Cat Infected with FIV?

It is important to keep an FIV-positive cat indoors and isolated from noninfected cats, as transmissions usually occur by fighting and bite wounds. Also, an FIV positive cat should not be bred, as the mother can transmit the virus to their kittens. It is important to visit the vet regularly for check-ups and to help your cat maintain a balanced diet to help keep your cat healthy.

In cases where FIV causes death, it is usually due to secondary infection from a cat’s weakened immune system. Otherwise, a cat may have a normal, healthy life for many years.

Which Supplements are Suggested?

Felimm: This formula helps to balance the immune system, helps fight against Feline Leukaemia (FeLV) and the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV), Feline Infectious Peritonitis (FIP), canine herpesvirus, and parvovirus. In addition, it helps fight infections, encourages detoxification of the lymphatic system, stimulates the appetite, improves energy levels, and helps combat upper respiratory tract infections.

BK-Detox: An immune support and detoxifier for the vital organs and the blood, this supplement helps improve and protect the immune system. Bk-Detox is especially useful for supporting pets that are fighting cancer, and may be combined with NHV Es Clear for added cancer support.

Multi Essentials: A plant-based multivitamin extract that helps fill nutritional voids, aids digestion, and enhances nutrients absorption.