FIV in Cats – A Complete Guide to Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment

fiv in cats

Keeping a pet is not an easy task. It would help if you were vigilant, caring and proactive because it is a full-time job to take care of another living being. The reason being, the animals cannot speak and express their pain and feelings as humans can do; it becomes a challenge to take care of them. Well! Pets are a way of bringing the best out of yourself. Yes! Cats make the best of pets as they are fluffy like anything. If you also own a cat, you need to be careful about the various health conditions of your little one because there are many infections and diseases. Your pet can catch the infections from the surroundings; therefore, you have to be extra careful. For instance, FIV in cats is a common infection that your cat may develop, hence, keep your eyes open.  

For all those out there, who do not have an idea about what this FIV is all about, here is all the basic information because you need to know:

  • What to look for and 
  • When to put down a cat with FIV. 

What is FIV? 

FIV, the short form of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, is a virus that weakens the immune system of cats. The symptoms of the virus do not show up during the early stages of FIV. Although it affects the cat’s health at a slow pace yet, it may cause a variety of secondary infections because then there will be a point of concern.

The main problem lies in the fact that the slow pace of the viral infection makes it difficult to be diagnosed. In certain cases, it has been observed that the FIV in cats’ life expectancy is long. This is why the owner does not even notice the occurrence of this infection for a long time. So, if you have a cat, you need to keep a close eye on what exactly is going on with them. For this purpose, you should be proactive.

Symptoms of FIV

The first thing which would come to your mind, talking about FIV, is the symptoms. This is the basic yet tricky part as the virus does not show up in the early stages. However, once they occur they tend to grow up with the passage of time and resultantly, your cat may show the slow deterioration of her health. So, here are some of the common symptoms of FIV which you should keep track of.  

Enlargement of Lymph nodes

The lymph nodes of the infected cat swell and enlarge as a result of the virus. The nodes have badly affected because the lymph cannot be circulated throughout the body, 

High Temperature

As an owner of a cat, you need to keep track of the temperature of your pet because the FIV in cats causes high fever, which you have to take care of in time to avoid serious consequences.  


A deficiency of blood may occur as a symptom of FIV because the poor thing is suffering from a slow-acting virus. Therefore, she may suffer from Anemia.  

Loss of Appetite and weight loss

If you observe a sharp and abrupt weight loss in your cat, which is accompanied by loss of appetite, you need to worry. This may be due to a viral infection. For that matter, it requires your special attention if your FIV cat is losing weight. 


If your little one is having loose motions or is feeling like poop frequently than usual, it points to something wrong. It may be FIV, for which you have to dig deeper into the matter.  

Inflammation of gums and mouth

This is a logical result of diarrhea and viral infection as the stomach of your little one is upset. If you see it churn its gums and teeth, this may be due to the inflammation your cat is feeling in its mouth.  

Dental Diseases

As the virus is developing inside your cat’s body, hence, there might be some secondary disease related to teeth and mouth. If you observe no other apparent reason for the dental infection, you must check if there is FIV in cats.  

Skin Condition and Hair loss

Skin is another important part of the body that gets adversely affected by FIV. The skin turns red and shows up various patches of redness. The hair is lost because the skin condition gets worse. So, if you can see your fluffy little friend turning bland over a short period, you must be concerned.

Slow Recovery of Wounds

Yet another clear symptom of your cat suffering from FIV is the slow recovery of wounds. If your cat got hurt playing around, but its wound is not healing as soon as it should be, then it may be having the virus.  

Eyes and Nose conditions

Your cat, if suffering from the virus, would be having inflammation in eyes and nose. This is a very painful condition and you need to have medical assistance at once to avoid it from getting worst.

Is FIV in cats contagious? 

Well, if you are concerned about yourself or your family members catching the infection, you do not need to fret. Here is a piece of good news for you. The FIV is not contagious to humans, which means the cat would transmit it to other cats only. This mostly happens through deep bites wounds. The cats tend to bite each other because they mostly fight for territorial disputes. If any of these cats have the FIV, it can be transmitted to others too.  

Another way in which the virus can travel from one animal to another is through sharing the utensils. Therefore, when the mother cat carries the virus and you do not take precaution to isolate her bowls and litter boxes, it may cause FIV in the kittens too. Besides, it would be best if you were extra careful about other means of transmission of the virus because this is a common mode of transmission. For instance, if you think that the mother cat is suffering from the infection, then you should separate her grooming tools. Similarly, keep her away if she is sneezing.  

Diagnosis of FIV in Cats

The key tool for the determination of the virus is the Blood test. You need to know the FIV status of your cat. You can do this by visiting the vet periodically. If the vet finds the antibodies to the FIV in the blood, it means that the cat has the virus. Although you cannot get a 100 percent accurate results every time, however, your pet’s vet is the right person to interpret the reports. For this purpose, the vet will carry out further medical investigations based on the blood test reports. But once diagnosed, the vet will suggest you isolate the infected cat because she might transmit the virus to other cats in the vicinity.  

In the case of an infected mother cat, there is a chance of transmission of the antibodies to her kittens too. Therefore, if the kitten catches the virus from their mother, it may take at least 6 months to get the virus out of their body because they have a weak immune system. But, if the kitten is younger than 6 months, the vet would suggest the screening of her blood tests again when they are six months old.

Treatment of FIV in Cats

Since the virus does not show itself for a long time and keeps developing inside the body, it isn’t very easy to treat it. For the same reason, there is no specific treatment for the viral infection. However, your vet would mostly focus on reducing the chances of secondary infections by suggesting the following treatments: 

  • Intake of a healthy diet that your cat can easily digest. 
  • Replacing the solid diet with fluid and electrolyte therapy, as it will flush out the virus from your pet’s body.  
  • Anti-inflammatory medicines. 
  • Boosting your little one’s immune system. 
  • Parasite Control. 


You can find FIV vaccines for your cat, but they are not very efficient because then it will interfere with the blood test results. Therefore, your vet is in the best position to decide whether the cat needs to have the vaccine or not. The best way to prevent the transmission of the virus is that you keep your cat indoors. Similarly, when you take her out for a walk, make sure that she stays close to you on a leash.  


Now when you know almost everything about the symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention of FIV in cats, it will be easy for you to take care of your beloved pet. It is always good to have a healthy cat in your house with no infection and disease so that you can have a partner to play with.