An HIV cat is similar to that in humans. The condition is also referred to as AIDS or acquired immune deficiency syndrome. More correctly, it is known as feline immunofeficiency virus or FIV. In a nutshell, the immune system of the cat is badly compromised.
Most people react rather badly to the idea of AIDS and will certainly be unhappy if their cat is diagnosed with it. However, all is not lost.
When the immune system is compromised, your cat will be unable to prevent diseases. So she may suffer from one bout of ill health to another. However, the initial signs, which can last years, often go undetected.
Eventually, the immune system is so compromised, that ill health starts to be noticed.
Some of these symptoms may include:
- weight loss
- unhealthy fur
- gastro intestinal problems
- mouth problems such as stomatitis and gingivitis
- repeated infections particularly in the eyes, skin, urinary tract, respiratory tract
- cancer, leukaemia
The risk of cross infection is unlikely in healthy cats who have a properly working immune system.
Veterinary diagnosis is with a blood test, known as ELISA. However this test only measures the antibodies in the blood. Antibodies show that a cat has received immunity, rather than have the active virus. This can be from her infected mother. Cats who have received the FIV vaccine can also test positive. Cats who are infected often don’t have antibodies. So this test is inconclusive.
There are other tests available, which may come at a price. Before requesting them, you may like to investigate whether they are more conclusive than the ELISA test.
There is no veterinary treatment. for an HIV cat, although many vets often aggressively treat the cat with antibiotics and anti-viral medicines. All this is likely to achieve is to further lower the immune system.
What else can you do?
An HIV cat does not necessarily mean she will have a short or seriously unhealthy life. She may live for many years, without much more than a few of the symptoms appearing periodically.
But you have a much better chance of increasing the quality of her life if you focus on raising her immunity rather than trying to eliminate the disease. She may then be able to recover fully herself.
By the way, an HIV cat will not infect you. The virus is species specific.