Are you on the fence about adopting a kitty with FIV because you’re not sure what it means for their health, their potential life expectancy, or the risk to your other kitties? Well, we’ve answered 6 of the most common questions we get about Feline Immunodeficiency Virus just for you!
What Is FIV?
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus or FIV is a disease that attacks the immune system of the infected kitty. Much like HIV in humans, the biggest risk is a secondary infection that the compromised immune system is unable to fight. For example, most kitties who get a little kitty cold will be fine with time or mild antibiotics while immunocompromised kitties may have a harder time fighting it off and might experience more severe symptoms for longer.
How do you test for FIV?
A cat will produce antibodies to try to fight off the initial infection. The kitty will carry these antibodies with them for the rest of their life. Your veterinarian will typically test for these antibodies to prove a positive infection. HOWEVER, if an infected mommy cat is nursing kittens, they may test positive due to downing Mom’s antibodies through her milk. It’s a good idea to retest these kittens in 60-day increments, with the final test given at 6 months. According to Cornell University, if a kitten tests positive for FIV antibodies at 6 months, it is likely a true infection (they’re not just faking it to get out of school).
How do cats spread FIV?
A deep bite wound from fighting is the most efficient way to spread FIV. In fact, unneutered outdoor males are the most at risk for this very reason (men, am I right?). The virus is not generally spread through mutual grooming or the sharing of food, water, or space. Simply put, a kitty with FIV could be besties with your current uninfected cat! There is minimal risk of infection as long as there is a stable social structure with no fighting.
Will my FIV cat require special care?
Your vet may suggest that your FIV kitties get their wellness visits every 6 months as opposed to once annually. This way, Doc can be on the lookout for common issues with eyes, teeth, weight, etc. Regular vet visits will give your FIV+ BFF the best shot at a long, happy life. Aside from that, no special treatment required!
Is there a cure or vaccine for FIV?
There is no cure for FIV currently. While there are vaccines available in Australia, New Zealand, and Japan, it became unavailable in America after 2016, pending further research and approvals.
What’s the life expectancy of a cat with FIV?
Once upon a time, FIV was considered a death sentence. Many cats who tested positive were instantly euthanized. However, recent studies suggest that cats with FIV commonly live average life spans (provided they are not also infected with Feline Leukemia). “What’s that?” you say, “So FIV cats can be almost like any other cat I might adopt?!”. That’s a Texas-sized 10-4, fellow feline enthusiasts!
FIV Love Stories
Lynx and Antonio
Lynx and Antonio have been with us for more than 4 years, and are soul mates that are both FIV+. Though Lynx is the more social of the pair, both want nothing more than a nice quiet home to snuggle and groom each other in. Please consider adopting this healthy bonded pair that have a ton of love to give.
Frank and Natasha
Frank and Natasha are the purrrfect example of how magical a long-term FIV partnership can be. It was love at first sight for Frank, from the moment our founder brought Natasha home to meet him. Though Natasha is FIV+, Frank remains negative after an entire decade by her side! They have found permanent residence in the sanctuary, and can be seen canoodling on a daily basis (seriously, get a room you two). Here’s to many more years as Purrr’s most beautiful and longstanding power couple!
“We addopted two kitties from Purrr almost a year ago. We wanted two that shouldn’t be separated and adopted together. We picked out Ellie and Hokie, who seemed to be best friends. They let us know that Hokie has FIV but could very well live a normal, healthy, long life. I would never separate these pretty girls. We cannot get enough of her! She has the coolest personality. Ellie and Hokie both greet us at the door when we come in. Hokie jumps on the table and wants attention with a face rub. Hokie and Ellie take turns bathing each other. Hokie absolutely loves all dogs. We have a 13 year dog, Ninja, and she regularly cleans his ears! I am a cat lover and have had so many rescue cats over the years. Hokie living with FIV isn’t any different when it comes to any of my other cats over the years. We love her so much and are so happy to have her in our lives.”
– Adopter Alumni, Kenna & Mikey
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