Cats and other domesticated felines face numerous threats to their health such as FeLV, earmites parasites and many more but none that is as fatal as FIV. FIV or Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a contagious disease caused by a kind of retrovirus similar to the FeLV or Feline Leukemia Virus that belongs to the lentivrus category. Like the HIV which human contract, it destroys the feline's immune system making it susceptible to other forms of diseases.
Like any other virus existing, it is a microscopic non-living organism which only consists of either a DNA or RNA covered with some kind of protein coat. Unlike other regular cells, they can only replicate and multiply inside living cells, making it a virus factory. In addition, they do not breathe, process any nutrients and or excrete waste products. Once a cat becomes afflicted, it will easily contract other forms of infections such as bacterial, viral, fungal and even protozoan in origin.
The thing with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is that it is usually too late for the cat's owner to discover that the cat is ill. More often than not, visible symptoms only become apparent when the infection is already at its later stages. The infection usually starts with the virus being carried to the regional lymph node where it attaches itself as it gradually replicates in the white blood cells known as T lymphocyte. It will later spread to other lymph nodes throughout the body causing the cat to experience a few minor ailments such as fever, leukopenia, anemia which lasts for a couple of weeks. This is usually interpreted as a standard illness in a cat and may not be taken seriously.
After the cat recovers from the initial symptoms, it will appear healthy and fit and can remain so in several years. When the cat's immune system has almost been negated by the virus, signs of immunodeficiency will start to become visible and in this stage, the cat will display a few or all of the following; weight loss, poor fur complexion, anemia, gastroenteritis, diarrhea and many more.
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is usually transmitted through a cat's saliva and the most common occurrence of this is through bite wounds. Wandering male cats are more prone to this since they tend to prey on other felines for territorial matters. This is diagnosed based on history, clinical results and blood examination known as Enzyme-Link Immunosorbent Assay or commonly referred to as ELISA. There are two possible results that the process will manifest; the first would be the false positive while the second is a false negative.
If the cat has been injected with an FIV vaccine then the ELISA result will display a positive test result. Kittens born from FIV infected mothers may have received antibodies. This may be transmitted through the milk that the kittens drink though this does not mean that the kittens are afflicted with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Conducting secondary tests after the first few tests is well advised.
Unfortunately, there is no known remedy for FIV as of the present. The most that one can do is provide constant support and care for the afflicted cat. Support could range from regular veterinary check ups, parasite maintenance, high-quality and proper diet, keeping the cat away from external pollution so as to prevent or lessen the chances of a cat acquiring a disease, vaccination against other diseases. The usage of high-calorie supplements and occasional blood transfusions may be a necessity during the later stages of the disease. Following these procedures and steps can ensure the cat a longer lifespan and will not require euthanasia anymore.
It can also be helpful in preventing the spread of the virus that the cat be quarantined and not allowed to roam in the neighboring area. Conducting tests on each cat that was used for breeding can also be potentially helpful. Though current information claims that there is a vaccine available to remedy the disease, it does not guarantee a reliable result and would still need further observation.
To sum it all up, prevention is still better than cure. By following the aforementioned advices and information, you can lessen the chances of your cat acquiring the disease and lead her to a healthy lifestyle.