Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV in cats is caused by a Lentivirus which is related to the Feline Leukemia Virus or FeLV. There are a number of cat ailments that are caused by viruses. FIV causes a disease that is similar to human AIDS, attacking the cat's immune system.
There are a number of cat health problems that result from viruses. Luckily, FIV is one of the feline health problems that is not very common. Only about 3% of healthy cats in the United States contracts the disease. Cats that have the highest tendency to develop the disease are aggressive male cats that are let out of the house.
Transmission of the Feline Immunodeficiency VirusCredit: http://www.vcahospitals.com/main/pet-health-information/article/animal-health/feline-immunodeficiency-virus-infection/102
FIV is transmitted by biting. This means that spreads when cats fight or during breeding because the male cat bites the female cat's neck. Kittens can contract the disease during the birthing process from their mothers.
The Disease Process
Similar to human AIDS, the feline may be exposed to the disease, contract it, but take years to develop the disease enough that symptoms appear. The virus attacks the immune system. It tends to be attracted to certain immune cells. Without these cells, the feline body is defenseless and the cat comes down with secondary diseases and infections.
Signs and Symptoms
Lymph nodes becomes temporarily enlarged, fever, chronic and recurring illness and infections, poor coat, gums and mouth become inflamed, persistent diarrhoea, weight loss, and cancer.
Diagnosing FIV in Cats
There are blood tests that look for the presence of antibodies to the virus in the blood. If these are present, it means that the virus is present and the body is fighting off the disease by creating them.
Preventing the DiseaseCredit: http://www.crittercures.com/blog/2010/04/what-is-feline-immunodeficiency-virus.html
Keep cats in doors and make sure they don't fight. There is also a vaccine available.
Managing the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Unfortunately, there is no cure for FIV in cats, just as there is no cure for AIDS. Keep cat indoors so that they don't spread the disease. Spay or neuter the cat so that they have less of a need to be outdoors and they do not spread the disease during the breeding process. Make sure to feed a balanced diet and avoid raw food including meat and eggs to avoid any bacteria or parasites that may lead to secondary infections and cat ailments that the cat is incapable of fighting off. FIV positive cats should visit their local veterinarians or animal hospitals every six months for a check-up. An annual blood and urine analysis should also be performed.
If you have any questions regarding your cat's care, consult your local veterinarian. If you want more general information you can also look online for vet advice or ask a vet for free. Ask the vet for information on which diet is best for your cat.
It's impossible to know how long the cat can live with the disease. The cat can survive for months or years with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus.