Most FIV+ cats who are kept inside and cared for, can live just as long, and be just as healthy as other cats. Please learn about FIV and consider adopting one of these wonderful pets!

FIV Brochure - from Berkeley-East Bay Humane Society
Adopt an FIV Cat + More Resources- from Catnetwork
FIV: Squelching The Rumors - from Best Friends Magazine
FIV Information on CatChat.org
FIV: Catching A Bad Case of Rumors - Best Friends Animal Society
Understanding FIV+

Thank you to Sr. Eileen Connelly and OAR for allowing us to share this information

It happens all too often that a beautiful, affectionate cat is overlooked for adoption or euthanized simply because he or she has a disease that is misunderstood: FIV (Feline Immunodeficiency Virus). It is important to realize that a positive test for FIV is not a mandatory death sentence. Cats with FIV can, in fact, live long, healthy and happy lives. FIV is a virus that eventually causes immunosuppression in cats; it interferes with a catís immune system

response. This means that an FIV+ cat can be more susceptible to disease than an FIV- cat; the positive cat will have a harder time fighting off infection since its immune system is weakened. According to Cornell Feline Health Center, approximately 1.5 to 3 percent of domestic cats in the United States are infected with FIV. The disease is primarily transmitted by deep bite wounds and is most prevalent among unaltered males due to their propensity for fighting while competing for territory and females. FIV may also be transmitted from a mother cat to her kittens. This type of transmission usually occurs when the kitten passes through the birth canal or by ingesting infected milk. Sexual contact between cats is not a primary means of spreading FIV. It is a species-specific disease and is not contagious to humans or other animals.

For FIV testing, most veterinarians use the ELISA (Enzyme Linked Immunoabsorbent Assay) test, which detects whether FIV antibodies are present in the blood, not whether the virus itself is present. This test can is available in kit form for use in veterinary clinics and can also be performed by most veterinary diagnostic laboratories. Since false-positive results may occur, veterinarians recommend that positive results be confirmed using a test with a different format. Kittens born to infected mothers may receive positive test results for several months after birth, however, few of these kittens actually are or will become infected.  To clarify their infection status, young kittens with positive results should be retested when they reach at least six months old.

Most national TNR and rescue groups do not support testing feral cats for FIV unless the cat is demonstrating active signs of poor health that could indicate the virus. Besides the low percentage rates of cats infected by the disease, the low likelihood of transmission and long life span, the cost of testing can be substantial and funding is more effectively invested in spay/neuter programs rather than FIV testing. Current FIV tests canít distinguish between cats that are infected with FIV, vaccinated against FIV, or both infected and vaccinated because the vaccine stimulates the production of antibodies that are indistinguishable from those that develop from the infection. The same groups also advocate the release of asymptomatic FIV+ cats back into their colonies as the risk of transmission is low and a well-fed, well-managed colony will have strong immune systems and a natural resistance to the virus.

Providing a good home to an FIV+ cat is really no different than providing a good home to any cat. FIV+ positive cats will most likely have many years of good health, as long as their owners are diligent in watching for signs of infection and ensure that they receive regular vet visits and a proper diet. It is also essential that FIV+ cats live indoors only and be kept free of external and internal parasites. In addition, their environment should be kept as stress-free as possible. Like any cat, he or she will thrive on plenty of love and attention. With good care, many FIV+ cats can live nearly normal life spans, and itís not uncommon for FIV+ cats to reach 10-15 years of age. The disease does not mean the infected cat needs to live in solitary confinement or be the lone feline in a household. Because it is not spread through casual contact, many now believe that FIV+ cats can share food bowls, litter boxes and toys without transmitting the virus to other cats in the household. FIV+ cats can even sleep and play with other cats in the household without infecting them. Many multi-cat households have FIV positive and negative cats living together with no issues.

Cats with FIV have a reputation for being especially gentle and affectionate. That has certainly been my experience in fostering five adult males who tested positive. Sam, Teddy, Seamus, Danny Boy and Bridge, have shown me how much love these wonderful cats have to give. When Iím able to add another cat to my home, I wouldnít hesitate to adopt to adopt an FIV+ cat. Please consider opening your heart and home to one as well!

Sr. Eileen Connelly