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Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a significant cause of disease in cats. FIV is very similar to HIV in people and causes disease similar to AIDS and is often referred to as cat AIDS. It affects the cells of the immune system by killing or damaging them and causing a gradual decline in the cat’s immune function. The immune system fights infection, therefore HIV positive cats are at a far greater risk of disease and infection with other viruses and bacteria.

Recent studies show that 14-29% of cats in Australia test positive to FIV. We are seeing an increased prevalence of the disease in Newcastle. 

Contracting FIV

FIV is mainly spread through biting, with high levels of the virus shed through saliva.

Outdoor cats are at a much greater risk of contracting FIV, especially if they are involved in cat fights, breeding or have a history of cat fight abscesses. 


In house blood test is used to diagnose FIV. Testing is recommended for cats socialising outside with other cats and cats presenting with cat fight wounds/abscesses.

Prior to a FIV vaccination adult cats should be tested for the disease.

Signs of FIV

  • Loss of appetite

  • Fever

  • Lethargy

  • Conjunctivitis

  • Swollen lymph nodes

  • Vomiting/diarrhoea

  • Weight loss

  • Poor coat quality

  • Chronic infections

  • Gingivitis

  • Sores in mouth


There is no specific treatment for FIV and infection is for life.



A highly effective vaccine to protect against FIV is now available. The best way to prevent the disease is by vaccination. A course of 3 vaccinations is required 2-4 weeks apart and then annual boosters to maintain immunity.


If you would like more information or would like to make an appointment to have your cat protected from FIV please telephone for an appointment on 02 4925 2999.

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