PDSA is calling for more cat owners to get their pets neutered to protect them from Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a cat-specific virus similar to the HIV virus. FIV is most commonly seen in unneutered cats and is spread through cat bites, and sadly, this disease has no cure.

Ahead of World Aids Day on Sunday, the vet charity has revealed that nearly 8% cats in the UK are not neutered – meaning they are at greater risk of contracting the deadly disease.

PDSA Vet Olivia Anderson-Nathan says: “FIV positive cats do not pose any risk to humans or pets of other species, and the disease is spread through cat bites, a territorial behaviour most commonly seen in non-neutered cats, especially males.

“Often, cats with FIV show no symptoms for some time, and when they do the symptoms are often fairly non-specific. These can include diarrhoea, sneezing, skin and eye infections, weight loss, lethargy, and reduced appetite. Swollen glands can also be a symptom.

“The best way to protect your cat from FIV is to get them neutered. This will help reduce any territorial behaviors where your cat will have an urge to roam and fight and potentially get bitten by an infected cat.”

If a cat is diagnosed with FIV it is important for owners to take steps to protect their pet and prevent the risk of them spreading the disease to other cats.

Olivia adds: “FIV-infected cats need special treatment once they’re diagnosed to protect both them and other cats. Infected cats need to be kept indoors to prevent spreading the infection. Contact with other cats, as long as they don’t fight, can be safe – research shows that within stable multi-cat households where there is no fighting, the chance of an FIV positive cat infecting another cat is incredibly low. Introducing any new cats can upset the stability and lead to fights."