Caring For Your FIV Cat

A Cat with FIV Can Make an Excellent Pet

By Carolyn Thorne, DVM

Though Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) only affects between 1.5 percent and 3 percent of cats, receiving this diagnosis can be overwhelming for pet owners. Your cat, however, can have a happy life while living with the disease.

It’s important to know that cats can carry the virus for several years without showing any symptoms and, as such, it is very important to pay attention to warning signs (the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has a comprehensive list here) and to have your cat tested as part of their regular veterinary visits.  Outdoor cats have a much larger risk of contracting the disease than indoor cats.

Though there is no cure for FIV, there are medicines to treat often-occurring secondary problems such as kidney infections.

Milo, adopted by Bert and Kathy, is a cat with FIV.  He enjoys hanging out in empty pizza boxes :)   

Milo, adopted by Bert and Kathy, is a cat with FIV.  He enjoys hanging out in empty pizza boxes :)   

Caring for a cat with FIV requires keeping your cat indoors to prevent him catching any other diseases, keeping his diet free of raw foods (to avoid parasites) and getting twice-yearly checkups. Though you always should, you’ll especially want to make sure your cat is spayed or neutered, as FIV can be transmitted during conception and from mother to kittens.

FIV is most usually transmitted through deep bite wounds and is not commonly passed through casual socialization activities such as grooming and sharing food bowls. Still, FIV cats should be the only feline in their household to prevent spreading the disease. FIV can only be transmitted cat-to-cat; humans cannot catch the virus.

We can check your cat to see if s/he has FIV.  Please contact us to schedule a wellness visit.

For more information on other common cat diseases, visit the ASPCA website.