Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV ) is a lentivirus that affects cats worldwide. Some research shows that 11% of the feline population in the world are infected with FIV. FIV attacks the immune system of cats, much like the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) attacks the immune system of humans. FIV and HIV are both lentivirus but humans can not be infected but FIV. FIV is transmitted mostly through deep bite wounds. FIV is not an immediate death sentence for cats. FIV positive cats can live relatively healthy as carriers and transmitters of the disease for many years. I have heard several cases of FIV+ cats living for more than 10 years after being infected.

Studies show that FIV occurs in three stages:

1). Acute Stage (1-2 months after transmission)—Immediately following the transmission, the cats show symptoms such as fever, depression, and generalized lymphadenopathy.

2). Subclinical Stage (4 weeks to ____ after transmission), symptoms decrease or disappear. The FIV virus is in dormant at this stage.

3). Chronic Stage—Also known as the “full-blown” stage. The cats eventually die from secondary infections due to suppressed immune system.

Common signs of an active infection: Poor coat, persistent fever, loss o appetite, and inflammation of the gums, mouth, skin, bladder, and upper-respiratory tract.

Most vets can perform an in-house ELISA test. It takes only a few minutes for the result. For a more accurate result, the blood sample will have to be sent to a lab for Western Blot test.

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