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.
This disease 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. FIV can also be transmitted sexually and through sharing food bowls.
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 becomes 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, a lot of cats with some form of outdoor access are infected with this virus. Unfortunately, over 10% of stray cats are infected with FIV.
Feline Leukaemia Virus (FeLV)
Feline Leukaemia is a serious disease of cats caused by feline leukaemia virus.
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 by mutual grooming, fighting, sneezing or even flea bites.