The feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) was first discovered in 1986, following a study of a cattery in the United States. This group of cats were found to be unwell as a result of infections that other cats could easily recover from. It seemed to be very similar to another newly discovered virus in people call human immunodeficiency virus (HIV).
As the names suggest there are many similarities between the feline and the human form of this virus. There are however, some key differences in the way the viruses are spread and also the number of variants. Their close relationship means that research into each form of the virus provides valuable information on the other and the more knowledge collected, the better the understanding and hopefully the closer it is to one day finding a cure for both forms.
It is very important to note that these viruses are species specific. This means that FIV can only infect cats and HIV can only infect humans. Ie humans cannot be infected with FIV or vice versa.