FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus) is a widely misunderstood condition. Many people think that it’s easily spread, makes cats very sick, and that they have a lower life expectancy, so they are often overlooked for adoption. This is far from the truth!
When a cat tests positive for FIV, it means they either carry the virus or were vaccinated against it at some point (which causes them to test positive for the disease; this vaccine was discontinued in North America in 2015). FIV is not spread through casual contact such as shared food/water/litter, mutual grooming, or playing. It is most commonly spread through deep, vicious bite wounds typically inflicted by intact toms fighting on the streets over food, females, or territory. If a cat has been spayed or neutered, they are unlikely to fight in this manner, and if the population is stable (no serious fighting), FIV+ cats can live with non-infected cats (Litster 2014).
It was previously thought that FIV+ pregnant queens could pass the virus to their kittens, but this has since been disproved according to a 2014 study done by the School of Veterinary Medicine at Purdue University. Kittens with an FIV+ mother may test positive for up to 6 months due to the presence of maternal antibodies, but these dissipate over time.
FIV+ cats can live as long and healthy a life as non-infected cats. This doesn’t mean they will never become ill; they are, after all immunocompromised, so illnesses can be easier to catch and harder to fight off. They have the same needs as any other cat: high quality nutrition, a clean, stress-free, strictly indoor environment, regular veterinary visits (ideally, two times per year), and lots of love. If they should become ill, they are generally treated earlier, for a longer duration, and more aggressively than non-immunocompromised cats (meaning they need to see the vet at the very first sign of illness and may be on a stronger medication or on medication for a longer period of time).
Please consider opening up your heart and home to an FIV+ cat!
You can find our adoptable FIV+ cats HERE.
- Five Reasons to Consider Adopting an FIV Cat
- Why This Vet Thinks FIV-Positive Cats Make Great Adoptees
- Finally – Vet Study OKs FIV+ and FIV- Cats Living Together
- As It Turns Out, FIV Positive and Negative Cats Can Happily Live Together
- People Think These Pets Are Inherently Unhealthy, But That is a Myth
- How Long Do FIV+ Cats Live?
- FIV Common Myths
- False Myths About FIV Keep Cats Trapped in Shelters
- FIV Fact Sheet – Alley Cat Allies