Over the years, we have taken in many FIV+ cats and have had difficulty finding them homes. We understand that not enough was known about this disease in the past, so many myths have been spread. But knowing more now, we want to share this information with as many people as possible, so that we can continue to save the lives of cats who deserve a chance. To help our FIV+ friends currently available for adoption, their adoption fees are discounted to $60 through the end of April, so come meet them today!
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a disease that infects a cat’s immune cells. It can damage and/or kill the cells, affecting their function. This leaves them more susceptible to other illnesses. It is species-specific, not able to be passed on to humans or other animals.
FIV is mainly transmitted via deep bite wounds. This makes it more common in our feral/stray communities where cats are fighting over resources, such as food, shelter, and mates. Inside a home, where the cats are calm and cared for (and spayed/neutered!), fighting in that manner is extremely rare.
FIV is not transmitted from sharing bowls or litter boxes. It’s also not a concern during play or snuggling. A pregnant cat rarely passes the virus on to her kittens, but an FIV+ mom can pass FIV antibodies to her kittens in utero. This results in a kitten having a positive test when younger, but as they grow, those antibodies dissipate. Typically, by age 6 months, those kittens will retest negative.
Now to the big question everyone has - can I adopt an FIV+ cat if my cat is FIV-? And the answer is an easy YES, with just a few basic guidelines.
- All cats should be spayed/neutered to decrease the risk of hormones triggering a fight response.
- When introducing any new cat, regardless of FIV status, we recommend going slow. Give all cats their space (including resources like food, water, and litter box) and do monitored “meet and greets” until you feel certain that all the cats coexist without aggression. Keep in mind that growling, hissing, and swatting during initial introductions is normal. Every cat has their own way of “sizing up the competition.” It’s helpful to continue having multiple litter boxes and feeding stations to avoid resource guarding.
- To maintain a happy cat home, we always strongly encourage mental stimulation. Cats enjoy toys, scratching pads, vertical surfaces (towers and shelves), feeding puzzles, window seats, etc.
- As a precaution, it’s important to keep all pets up to date on vaccinations and seek veterinary care for illnesses early. Remember, FIV causes immunosuppression, leaving the cat susceptible to infections/diseases, so we want to minimize that risk as much as possible. As long as all precautions are taken, such as monitoring health with bi-annual veterinary exams, annual bloodwork, monthly flea & tick prevention, and feeding a quality diet, there should be nothing holding an FIV+ cat back from living a normal, full life.
Please do not hesitate to reach out if you have any questions about FIV. The AWSOM shelter and wellness center staff are happy to discuss any concerns you may have