By Nomi Berger

A cat diagnosed with the Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is still an ADOPTABLE cat.

What, then, is FIV?

FIV is a type of virus called a retrovirus. It is in the same family as feline leukemia virus (FeLV) and human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the virus that causes AIDS in people. It is a slow virus that attacks the immune system over a period of years, making the cat more susceptible to secondary infections and cancers.

There may be no cure for the virus itself, but it is NOT a death sentence. Most FIV positive cats can live long and happy lives provided they are both protected from and treated promptly for any secondary infections they may contract. Some even live their entire lives without ever coming down with the actual illness.

Although it is NOT transmittable to humans, dogs or other non-feline pets, the virus can ONLY be transmitted between cats through deep bite wounds. Sometimes an infected mother can pass the virus to her offspring during birth. Others most at risk for infection are intact outdoors cats and those allowed outside who fight with feral cats.

Of utmost importance, when adopting a FIV positive cat, is to always keep that cat indoors and spay or neuter them immediately.

Before adopting a FIV positive cat, ensure that you and your vet are “on the same page”. While some vets advise against keeping FIV positive cats in a home with FIV negative cats, the risk of transmission is minimal if the cats DO NOT fight viciously. They can sleep together, groom each other, share food and water bowls, toys, and litter boxes.

To help your FIV positive cat live as healthily and normally as possible:

Feed your cat a balanced diet (no raw meat, eggs or non-pasteurized dairy products that can harbor bacteria and parasites and lead to infection), using only the highest quality food to provide your cat with all required and essential nutrients.

Remove all uneaten wet food within a half-hour to prevent the potential growth of harmful bacteria.

Ensure that your cat has easy access to a continuous supply of FRESH water.

Take your cat to the vet at least twice a year for a wellness checkup, blood count and urine analysis. And like any cat, yours should receive routine vaccinations against rabies and feline distemper.

Watch for changes, even seemingly minor ones, in your cat’s health or behavior, and report them promptly to your vet.

And so, despite the fact that a FIV positive cat may not use up all of its fabled nine lives, living a loved, pampered and protected one may be just what the vet ordered.


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