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FIV - What is it?

You might notice some cats on our website have "FIV+", so really, what does that mean?

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Don't stop reading, though! It's not nearly as scary as it sounds. For most adult cats with FIV, it does not cause any health issues.

FIV typically "flares up" at the time of infection and then again during the kitty's senior years, but in between, it basically goes dormant. So, the cat is infected and will show it's positive, but the virus isn't active in the body causing issues. It's just kind of, hanging out.

FIV cats require the same care all cats need. Because they may have a weaker immune system, they must be kept indoors at all times, and they need yearly or regular vet checkups along with keeping up with their vaccines. With that and a high-quality diet, they have similar life expectancies to cats who don't have FIV. They are NOT considered special needs.

FIV is NOT transmittable to humans or any other animals. It is spread through cats only through mating, nursing, and deep bite wounds. FIV+ cats can live with FIV- cats as long as they are both cat-friendly and spayed/neutered.

Here's a recent adoption success story:

"About 4 years ago, my boyfriend, and I befriended a neighborhood stray. He was a plump, orange tabby, who appreciated a warm lap and a can of tuna. It didn't take long for Big Boy, as we had named him, to officially adopt us. After confirming with neighbors that Big Boy had no owners, we took him to a vet to ensure he was healthy. It was there that we learned that Big Boy was FIV+. As new cat owners, this felt devastated - we didn't know what FIV was or what it meant for Big Boy. Our vet (and endless hours of internet research) reassured us that Big Boy could still live a long, healthy life so long as he was indoor only, and we were proactive with his vet care.

Nearly 4 years later, Big Boy (now significantly less big) is still happy and healthy, with no complications from his FIV. What initially felt like a scary diagnosis has had very minor impacts on the quality of his life. Our vet will sometimes run extra tests as a precaution due to his FIV status, but that's the extent of it.

After becoming comfortable with FIV, my boyfriend and I decided we wanted to adopt another FIV+ cat. I signed up to foster FIV+ kitties through RMFR, both as a way to help FIV+ kitties in need and to see how Big Boy would react to another cat. It didn't take long for us to foster fail Simba, a 4mo old FIV+ kitten.

While FIV is predominantly spread through deep bite wounds, kittens can get the virus from their mama. It is rare, but some kittens end up registering false positives due to maternal antibodies. For that reason, our vet retested Simba once he was 5 months old. Much to our surprise, Simba tested negative! While we were delighted for Simba, we were worried that it would be irresponsible to keep him given Big Boy's FIV status. But, our vet reassured us that the benefits outweighed the risk. Simba and Big Boy are now a bonded pair, and they love to chase each other around the house before snuggling up for a long nap. Because there are no signs of aggression between our two boys, our vet believes there is little to no risk of Simba contracting FIV from Big Boy.

We love our two boys, and are so happy to have both of them in our lives!"

Want to find your own FIV+ kitty? See our available cats.

1 Comment

Jan 26, 2023

What a great story! We need more people like YOU!!! The kitties are soooo Cute! Thank You!

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