IVF is the feline immunodeficiency syndrome, in other words it is the feline counterpart of our HIV.
The virus that causes IVF in kittens cannot be contracted by humans or animals of a different nature (i.e. dogs, rodents, etc.). The IVF virus can only be transmitted from cat to cat; people who live with an affected cat can rest assured that they are not afraid of infection.
IVF is transmitted by saliva: it is transmitted by biting or licking; infected cats can also contaminate their puppies during lactation. Infection by contact with bowls, infected litters is not possible, unlike FeLV, as the virus does not resist in the environment.
Typically males contract it more frequently than females because of fights with other cats over territory or during the heat period.
After an incubation period ranging from 4 to 6 weeks, Immunodeficiency Syndrome consists of four phases:
Stage I: first infection, mortality’ is extremely low and covers the first month of infection. The symptoms are generic: moderate fever, abatement, diarrhea, increased lymph nodes;
Stage II : silent seropositivity; it is a period that can last even some years in which the cat appears healthy, that is, it does not present any symptoms;
Stage III: persistent generalized lymphadenopathy; it is a stage of the disease mainly characterized by the swelling of the lymph nodes associated with slimming, fever, anemia, decrease in white blood cells and possibly secondary infections caused by weakening of the immune system;
Stage IV: clinical phase similar to human HIV that leads to other infections such as gingivitis, conjunctivitis, rhinitis, immune dysfunctions, nervous disorders, tumors. The cat appears depressed and its general state is reflected on the skin and coat that assume a decadent appearance.
Stage V: the AIDS is proclaimed, it is the last stage, characterized by numerous infections of different types supported by fungi and parasites which find in the weak immune system of the poor feline fertile ground. There is, moreover, a further development of tumor forms.
IVF is, unfortunately, incurable, but IVF+ cats can live even more than 10 years. Obviously, those who live in an apartment, and therefore are cared for, vaccinated and regularly checked by the vet, have a longer life expectancy.
There are no medicines or vaccines for IVF. The best thing to do is PREVENTION: males must be castrated and females sterilized in order to lower the risk of contraction of the disease. Moreover, offering them a quiet and hygienic environment, caring for them and loving them will make their life better and longer!
My advice is to adopt an IVF+ cat! As no one considers cats to be sick, they spend their whole life on the street or locked in a shelter cage. Give them a chance to have a good life too!