FIV positive cats

The Truth About FIV Positive Cats

So you’ve tested a cat and he/she is FIV positive.  There is probably a 50/50 chance that your vet has recommended that you put the cat to sleep.  If you are reading this, it is likely that something inside of you has said “this isn’t right.”

I am not a vet and this is not a web page dedicated to explaining the disease to people.  For that, you need to see the Cornell University website, and I’ll provide those links below.  But more importantly, you need to talk with and people who have been through this.  I have done that.  I am no expert, BUT I currently have FIV positive cats in the same household as disease-free cats.  This is a very complicated issue and each situation will be different, but our point is that these cats should not be put to sleep unless they are in the last stages of the disease and suffering (and we are not talking about the sniffles here).

FIV is often explained as the feline version of HIV.  Like HIV, FIV is spread mainly through bodily fluids, specifically, blood contact.  It is generally spread through bite wounds, which is why most FIV positive cats we have taken in have been unaltered males.  It may be passed through sexual intercourse, but this is less likely.  It also may be passed from mother to kittens.  It is not passed through sharing food bowls or litter boxes.

The first thing you need to know (beyond the fact that you cannot catch this disease as a human) is that FIV and feline leukemia positive cats need to be tested at least twice because false positive readings can occur.  The Western Blot test is currently thought to be the definitive test.  It is more expensive, so we only use it when we test the second time.  There should be a 3 month period between each test.

The second thing we want you to know is that FIV cats can live long healthy lives, just as HIV positive people can. The truth is, we have not yet lost any of our FIV cats to FIV-related illnesses. Many FIV cats will live into old age and eventually pass away from something unrelated, like kidney failure.

Depending on the situation, the FIV positive cat may not need to be separated.  For instance, if you have 3 cats living harmoniously together and you find that one has FIV, as long as the 3 cats don’t fight, you don’t need to stress the FIV cat out by moving him.

If you do need to remove him because of fighting, he can still live in the same household, in another room, another part of the house, and not pass the disease onto other cats within the household.

by Victoria M. King

Cornell University info on FIVMore From Cornell on FIV