Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, also known as Feline AIDS, is caused by a lentivirus.
This type of virus usually causes a slowly developing disease. Like Feline Leukemia, Feline AIDS has nonspecific clinical
signs because it acts by suppressing the cat's immune system. Feline AIDS is associated more with mouth and skin problems
than the other cat viruses. Common mouth problems include gingivitis, stomatitis, and periodontitis. Common skin
problems include chronic abscesses and chronic dermatitis. F.I.V. can also cause GI, respiratory, nervous system,
opthalmic, or reproductive symptoms. A positive cat may be asymptomatic for years, but most vets believe that the cat
will eventually succumb. There is no treatment except supportive, and once the cat has developed signs, the disease
will eventually progress to death.
The virus is spread mostly through bite wounds, so is most common in male outdoor cats,
but can also be spread through blood transfusions, and to kittens from the mother (via placenta, birth canal, or nursing). F.I.V.
positive cats should be quarantined from healthy cats, especially in a mulitple cat household, cattery, etc.
There is a newly developed vaccination from Fort Dodge but its protection is not complete
(only about 80 %). Two or three doses are required, starting at about 9 weeks of age, 3 weeks apart for each dose.
To be vaccinated, the cat must first test negatively for the disease. If a positive cat was vaccinated, it could
cause the disease to progress faster than it originally would have.