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. Cats that are FIV positive (FIV+) can 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. Cat fights that lead to deep bites are a common cause 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, but with proper veterinary care, FIV+ cats can have normal life expectancies.
We recommend you:
- Make sure your cat is spayed or neutered
- Keep your cat indoors.
- Avoid feeding raw diets (due to increased risk of food-borne disease).
- See your veterinarian regularly for preventive care and catch signs of illness early. Your veterinarian may want to perform lab tests as often as annually to monitor your cats overall health.
Can an FIV+ cat live with other cats?
Yes, cats with FIV can live successfully with other cats! FIV does not spread between casual contact between an FIV+ cat and a non-infected cat, so they can be housed together as long as they are coexisting peacefully (and not fighting). FIV+ cats can also live with other FIV+ cats.
It is the responsibility of the adopter to choose whether to house an FIV+ cat and a non-infected cat together. When done properly, they can lead happy lives together, but there is always a chance that if they fight, the virus could be transmitted.
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 veterinarian or contact San Diego Humane Society.
Information on FeLV Cats.