Feline leukaemia (FeLV) and feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV)--sometimes called "feline AIDs"--are capable of causing illness or death in cats if left untreated. The Cornell Feline Health Center warns that as many as 4 per cent of cats in the United States may suffer from these viruses. For FIV, transmission is through bites from infected animals. FeLV transmission occurs when cats come into contact with the saliva, faeces, urine or nasal secretions of infected felines.
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FIV and FeLV share basic symptoms that indicate infection. Cats with FIV or FeLV develop coats that are rough and unkempt. Their weight may drop in a slow but persistent way. In later stages of the illnesses, what the Feline Health Center calls "severe wasting" occurs. A sick cat may have a cough or diarrhoea that doesn't go away. Persistent fevers are common. Gums may be red and inflamed; in cases of feline leukaemia, gums and other mucus membranes may be pale. Infected cats sometimes have seizures.
FIV and FeLV-infected cats become lethargic. They lose their appetites and may display sudden changes in behaviour, such as becoming fearful or aggressive.
Disease and Infections
Cats with feline immunodeficiency virus and feline leukaemia are prone to diseases and infection. They develop urinary, bladder, skin, eye and upper respiratory tract infections. Their lymph nodes swell. Neurological disorders are common, as are various blood and cancer diseases. Cats with FIV cycle through periods of health and periods of illness. Cornell's Feline Health Center warns that once severe FIV or FeLV-related disease or illness occurs, an infected cat has a limited life expectancy.
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