This month’s patient of the month is Sig, an 8 year old female cat. Sig was diagnosed with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) 5 months ago after visiting Reservoir Vet Clinic with a sore mouth. FIV is very similar to Human HIV and is the virus that causes the potentially fatal viral disease, Feline AIDS.
Feline AIDS affects the cat’s immune system. Eventually the immune system becomes too weak to fight off other infections or diseases and the cat can die from one of these subsequent infections that a cat without FIV would be able to survive.
FIV is spread from cat to cat primarily through bite wounds, the virus being shed in high levels through saliva. Cats that are allowed outside are at a higher risk from contracting the disease. Unfortunately the disease is quite prevalent with a reported 26% of cats in Victoria testing positive for FIV.
The best protection for you cat is to never let it outside. However, a vaccine is available to aid in preventing the disease in at risk cats. We recommend vaccinating all cats that go outside. If you would like to vaccinate your cat against FIV please call the clinic to make an appointment.
Cats that are FIV positive tend to suffer from severe gingivitis and dental disease. This means a very sore mouth and dental treatment is often required to alleviate this pain.
However, not all is lost to Sig and cats like her. Cats infected with FIV may remain healthy for long periods of time. Sig’s owners bring her in for regular check ups at the clinic as the healthier she stays the longer the symptom free periods will be. However, if Sig does get an infection her owners bring her to the clinic straight away so it can be treated promptly. Keeping cats infected with FIV confined is necessary to reduce the likelihood of picking up infections from other cats as well as restricting the spread of the virus.