Finding homes for cats with special needs can be challenging. Cats with Feline Immunodeficiency Virus face a wealth of misinformation and prejudice in trying to find forever homes. Though similar to HIV in humans, FIV has a vastly different outcome and effect on your cat’s health. The following is a list of the top ten questions most people have about adopting an FIV-positive cat.
1) How long will a cat with FIV live?
An FIV positive cat can live just as long as any other cat, up to 15-20 years.
2) How often will an FIV positive cat get sick?
FIV positive cats do have a lowered immune system so they must be kept indoors. A positive cat who is kept indoors, fed good quality food, and receives regular exams and vaccinations may never show any signs of illness. If your positive cat does show any signs of a secondary infection such as sniffling, sneezing or fever, it is important to make sure your pet receives prompt veterinary care.
3) What types of regular veterinary care does an FIV-positive cat require?
An annual exam and vaccinations are recommended. Your vet should pay particular attention to the teeth and gums as FIV positive cats are slightly more prone to oral infections. An inexpensive way to keep your cat’s teeth and gums healthy is to use PlaqueOff seaweed supplement in your cat’s daily food.
4) How does a cat become infected with FIV?
Most positive cats are either born to infected mothers or acquire FIV through fighting with other cats while living on the street. Unneutered stray and feral males have the highest probability of being FIV positive.
5) How is FIV transmitted to other cats?
FIV is not highly contagious. The only ways the virus can be transferred are through mating, from the mother, or from deep bite wounds.
6) Can an FIV-positive cat and an FIV-negative cat live together?
An FIV positive cat can be adopted into a home with a negative cat as long as both cats are calm, friendly and non-aggressive. Among spayed and neutered indoor cats, fighting that draws blood and creates deep wounds is extremely rare.
7) Can FIV be transmitted to dogs or people?
Just like the name implies, Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is only infectious to other cats. A positive cat is no health risk whatsoever for dogs or humans.
8) Is there a local cat rescue group that works with FIV-positive cats?
In the Nashville area, Nashville Cat Rescue specializes in fostering FIV positive cats, educating owners and helping these cats find safe, forever homes.
9) Why do so many rescues euthanize FIV-positive cats?
More and more cat rescues are learning the truth about FIV and setting up foster homes for these cats within their program. Unfortunately some shelters and rescue groups still believe that FIV is highly contagious and euthanize positive cats out of fear that they will spread the disease to healthy cats.
10) Why is it hard to find homes for FIV positive cats?
Most people are hesitant to adopt a cat that already has health problems. They see FIV and think that the cat is going to live a short, pain-filled life. However, nothing could be further from the truth. As with HIV in humans, the disease itself is not a major health risk. It is the secondary infections that can endanger health or even kill. An indoor-only FIV positive cat who eats good quality cat food and has regular checkups can live as long and happy as any other cat.