Are You Positive It’s FIV? Symptoms To Look Out For
Feline immunodeficiency virus, or FIV, is a cat-specific virus that doesn’t affect other species of pets or humans. It is most often transmitted from cat to cat through deep bite wounds, which makes outdoor, territorial cats more susceptible. Transmission through casual contact, such as sharing food bowls or litter boxes, is rare. FIV can weaken a cat’s immune system by attacking white blood cells, making FIV-positive cats more vulnerable to succumbing to illnesses or developing secondary infections. For this reason, twice-yearly preventive care visits are best for FIV-positive felines.
Know the Symptoms
FIV symptoms can be subtle and slow to emerge, which makes regular checkups coupled with appropriate diagnostic testing important for all cats.
There are numerous potential FIV symptoms and many of these mimic symptoms of other conditions. Please contact us if your cat exhibits any of the following:
- Poor coat condition
- Recurring fever
- Loss of appetite
- Inflammation of the mouth or gums
- Chronic infections, including upper respiratory infections and bladder infections
- Sneezing, or discharge from the nose or eyes
- Dental problems
- Chronic diarrhea
- Weight loss
- Wounds that won’t heal
- Fur loss
- Behavioral changes
- Problems urinating
- Signs of neurological difficulty
Get an Accurate Diagnosis
It’s important to share with us any possible FIV symptoms that your cat has exhibited. If your cat is indoor/outdoor, please keep him or her inside until you have a diagnosis to keep your pet from spreading the virus to other neighborhood cats.
The only way to confirm the diagnosis of FIV is with a blood test that detects FIV antibodies. Your Naperville Animal Hospital veterinarian will order the appropriate diagnostic tests to identify FIV or other potential causes of your pet’s symptoms.
Living with an FIV-Positive Feline
FIV-positive cats can still live long, healthy lives. In fact, many cats diagnosed with FIV age normally and never show outward signs of FIV-related illnesses.
Here are things you can do to help your FIV-positive cat:
- Avoid situations where your cat could bite or fight with another cat
- Feed your cat a premium diet
- Schedule twice-yearly checkups with blood work and urinalysis to monitor your cat’s immune system
- Promptly seek treatment for new symptoms or signs of illnesses
- Keep your cat indoors to protect neighborhood cats and to keep your cat from picking up other infections
Prevention is Key
An FIV vaccine was available in the United States and Canada from 2002 until 2017. It has since been discontinued after concerns were raised regarding an increased risk of sarcoma and false-positive results on FIV tests.
Prevention is the best medicine, and here’s what you can do:
- Spay or neuter your cats to reduce their desire to fight or roam
- Keep your cats indoors
- Walk your cat outdoors using a leash
- Confirm that any new cats that your cat will be around are FIV-negative (such as, if someone else keeps your pet while you’re away)
- Have any newly adopted cats tested so that you can take proper precautions
The diagnosis of FIV can be scary, but with appropriate care and plenty of love and attention, your FIV-positive kitty can live a long, happy life!
Please call us at (630) 355-5300 if your pet exhibits any unusual symptoms. We are here to help.
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