| Feline Immune Deficiency Viruses
Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) and feline leukemia virus (FeLV) belong to a family of viruses known as retroviruses. HIV is the most infamous retrovirus, which causes AIDS in people.
Only cats are susceptible to Feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukemia virus.
Most cats get FIV from fighting with an infected cat. The virus, present in the saliva of infected cats, passes beneath the skin of the victim when he is bitten. This cannot be spread through casual contact - it is usually through a bite. FeLV is spread through contact with saliva, urine or blood.
A blood test is required to determine if your cat has FIV. Common health problems may include: oral-cavity infections, upper-respiratory infections, weight loss, skin infections, ear infections, fever, enlarged lymph nodes, low red or white blood cell counts, kidney disease, eye disease, reproductive failure or neurological disease.
Cats can carry FeLV disease without showing any signs. A blood test is required to determine if your cat has the FeLV virus. Like cats with FIV, cats with FeLV develop illnesses that are unrelated to the virus itself because the immune system has been compromised. Health problems may include: anemia, weight loss, recurring or chronic illness, fevers and infections, rapid breathing, jaundice, eye infections and disease and certain types of cancer.
There is currently not cure for FIV or FeLV, and FIV-positive cats are infected for life. Some cats who have been diagnosed with FeLV may revert to a negative status. Your veterinarian can provide supportive care, and treat some of the secondary illnesses caused by the viruses.
The best way to protect your cat from these diseases is to have them vaccinated against FeLV and FIV. Have your cats tested on a regular basis, especially new cats or kittens.