This page: What really are the symptoms of FIV? - text books list general symptoms that apply to many conditions - find out what really to expect for an FIV cat
More about FIV - Symptoms
What are the
symptoms of FIV?
Well, none really!
Most problems and illnesses that cats suffer are diagnosed from their symptoms. This is true whether it be from an external influence like a virus or other infection, or from an internal disorder such as organ function decline, ie kidney, liver, pancreas, heart - they all have recognisable symptoms that initially alert the owner and vet to the problem. All these are relatively straight forward, because the symptoms will always be there for any given ailment - it is the way vets work; they assess all the symptoms, and possibly do some further tests to confirm or isolate the precise cause, then they will know what they need to treat.
One would think, therefore, that when a cat becomes infected with the FIV virus, there would be definite and distinct symptoms to identify it; but there simply aren't any such symptoms.
One might ask then, how and why is FIV diagnosed if there are no clear symptoms? Well, the virus is known to attach itself to parts of the immune system, so, if it appears that the immune system may not be working efficiently, and not responding to medications as expected, often the first thing done is to test for FIV.
There are symptoms that are often quoted by vets and scientists as common in FIV cats (mouth issues; digestive/diarrhea problems, poor appetite/weight loss, general infections) but these are all very general in nature and also common in uninfected cats. The health history of our sanctuary cats indicate they are not common symptoms observed in our FIV cats. Also the results of the 1000 FIV cats study show similar results of no specific symptoms.
Clearly, there are no specific symptoms for FIV simply becuse the virus does not have any real affect on the cat until many years later, after the virus has had time to develop sufficiently to reduce the immune system to such an extent that they start to suffer from general immune suppressed issues.
There can be many other causes of a poor immune system, but FIV is the easy one to test for, so it is often the first port of call when a vet is a little baffled. Sadly, if the test proves positive, then the vet may quickly jump to the conclusion that the FIV is the cause of the problems. FIV often will get the blame - quite wrongly!
Clearly, if having FIV had such a bad effect on a cat, then every cat with FIV would be suffering in the same way and present with recognisable symptoms. The fact that they don't, and that many FIV cats never do, must indicate the non-seriousness of the virus.
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