What Is Feline AIDS?

Feline AIDS, also known as Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) resembles HIV in humans. It is caused by a slow-moving virus which is transmitted through blood and saliva, and it attacks the immune system. The main transmission of this virus is through bites. While it is possible for a cat to become infected and not show symptoms for years, be aware that an infected cat can pass the virus to other cats, even if they do not show symptoms. 

When symptoms are present, this means that the immune system has been badly compromised. Two early symptoms that may be noticed are enlarged lymph nodes and fever. But these are easily missed. Eventually, infected cats may show the symptoms of loss of appetite, weight loss, inflammation of the gums, and gingivitis. Many cats infected with feline AIDS will develop chronic infections, often in the bladder or respiratory tract. Another complication that may arise are problems with the eyes. Diarrhea is also common. 

Some cats with feline AIDS experience changes in behavior. Some may even begin to experience frequent seizures and develop neurological disorders that can cause trouble with reflexes. This means they may experience delayed reactions, which can be a real problem with outdoor cats who rely on quick reflexes to get out of the way of danger. Cats with feline AIDS also run a higher risk of developing blood diseases and cancer, which cause another set of symptoms. 

Since feline AIDS compromises the immune system, the cat will be more susceptible to many other diseases and conditions. Some cats with FIV suffer from skin infections which leave the skin very dry. Others experience hair loss or nasal infections which can cause repeated sneezing, coughing or nasal discharge. Sleep patterns may also be affected. 

How is Feline AIDS transmitted? 

This disease is transmitted, as mentioned, from cat to cat, mainly through saliva and blood. If one cat bites another it is possible for the disease to be transferred. Because of this, male cats are more likely to contract feline AIDS, since they more frequently engage in roaming and fighting with other cats. It is also possible for this virus to pass between cats who mate with each other. And, although rare, it is possible for it to be passed from mother to kittens at birth, due to contaminated fluids during birth, or from contaminated milk from the mother after birth. 

Feral Cats and Feline AIDS: 

If you have feral cats outside your home, the chances of your pet cat contracting this virus is greatly increased. Feral cats are a danger to pets in many ways. They are typically full of parasites such as mites, ticks, and fleas, and they are vectors for viruses such as feline AIDS. Since it is possible for this virus to remain symptomless for years, it is possible that it can be widespread before symptoms and death occur. 

The best defense against this illness is to control the environment where your cats roam. And keeping feral cats away is key. But this is not an easy task. Here are a few ideas you can implement to try to keep your cats safe and keep your feral cat population to a minimum: 

  • Do not let your cats outside.

  • Avoid feeding the birds, as birds attract cats.

  • If you have a dog, let him or her outside often. This will keep feral cats at bay.

  • Keep your trash receptacles tightly covered, so feral cats and other wild animals will not be drawn in by smells or free food.

  • Never feed feral cats, and encourage your neighbors not to feed them either. 

While the above steps may be of help, the best way to eliminate the population of feral cats on your property is to have the help of a professional pest control company. Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions can inspect your property, determine the number and location of feral cats, and humanely remove the animals to a shelter. 

In the terminal phase of feline AIDS, a cat will become ill and will not recover. A beloved pet will pass away in as little as a year. Don't take chances that your kitties will contract this deadly virus from feral cats on your property. Let the professionals here at Sandwich Isle Pest Solutions help you today.