Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) attacks a cat’s immune system, similar to HIV in humans. Infected cats’ natural defence against other diseases may be seriously affected, much in the same way as human AIDS.
It is important to note that FIV is not transmissible to humans.
FIV is almost always transmitted by bites from infected cats, since the virus that causes the disease is present in saliva.
While some infected cats show no sign of disease, others may display initial symptoms such as fever, loss of appetite, diarrhoea, lethargy and swollen lymph nodes.
As the disease progresses, symptoms may occur such as weight loss, sores in and around the mouth, eye lesions, poor coat and chronic infections.
Eventually, the immune system may become too weak to fight off other infections and diseases. As a result, the cat may die from one of these subsequent infections.
Unfortunately in Australia, FIV is very common, with 1 in 7 cats with outdoor access infected with this virus.
Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
The virus attacks the immune system and may be associated with lack of appetite, weight loss and apathy, pale or yellow gums, vomiting, diarrhoea, reproductive problems, increased susceptibility to other infections, leukaemia and tumours. Many cats may be infected and show no signs at all.
About one third of infected cats remain chronically infected and may shed virus in their saliva, tears, nasal secretions and urine. The disease is then spread to uninfected cats through close contact (e.g. shared food/water bowls, mutual grooming), fighting, sneezing or even flea bites.