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San Diego Humane Society

Cats with FIV

What should I know about adopting a cat with FIV?

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a virus that infects cats. It weakens the immune system over time and can make it harder for a cat to fight off common infections. Some cats that are FIV positive (FIV+) can show no apparent health problems and live long and happy lives just like cats without the virus. FIV at is a virus unique to cats and is only transmitted from cat-to-cat via a deep bite wound or exchange of blood, so cat fights are a common causes of infection. Cats who are spayed or neutered are much less likely to engage in serious fighting, so the risk of infection is lower in altered cats. There’s no cure for FIV and when FIV+ cats become ill, they may need to be treated earlier, longer and with different medications than cats who are not infected with FIV.

To help a cat put their best foot forward, we recommend you:

  • Keep your cat indoors where there’s less exposure to germs.
  • If your cat isn’t feeling well, see a veterinarian right away.
  • Make sure your cat doesn’t fight with another cat. This helps prevent the spread of the virus.
  • Consider adopting only single FIV+ cats or other FIV+ cats.
  • See your veterinarian regularly to practice preventative care and catch signs of disease early. Your veterinarian may want to perform lab tests as often as annually to monitor your cats overall health.

Two little-known facts about FIV:

  • Cats who have been vaccinated for FIV can falsely test positive for the disease. For this reason many shelters and veterinarians don’t vaccinate for it.
  • Kittens with an FIV+ mother may test positive for up to 6 months because of antibodies from mom. It is recommended that kittens who test positive are retested after 6 months old to truly assess their FIV status.

Less than 2.5% of the North American feline population tests positive for either FIV or FeLV.
If you have more questions, please talk with your vet or you’re welcome to speak with one of ours.

Information on FeLV Cats.

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