The occurrence of degenerative joint diseases (DJD) and the possible involvement of Feline Calicivirus (FCV), Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV), Feline immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) and Feline Foamy Virus (FFV) infections were investigated in 54 euthanized cats chosen at random. Blood samples and synovial tissues were collected and bilateral radiographic images taken of the shoulder, elbow, hip, stifle and hock. Samples were analysed for viral nucleic acids using real-time PCR and blood samples were also tested for FIV antibodies.
Radiographic images were evaluated with 88.9 % of the cats showing signs of DJD. The most frequently affected joints were the elbow and the hip joints with the hip showing the most severe changes. There was a significant correlation between signs of DJD and increasing age of the cats (r =0.475; p = 0.004) Nucleic acids of all viruses except FCV could be detected in the blood as well as in samples of the joint capsules, whereas FCV was only found in synovial tissue samples from one cat. A realtime PCR assay was established to detect FFV-specific nucleic acids. FFV had the highest prevalence among all viruses (eight)