When you adopt a kitten, you’re welcoming a new member of your family into your home! This family member will be with you for years. If the kitten you love is FIV positive, make sure you’re educated on how this can affect your cat.
As a quick disclaimer, we are not veterinarians or medical professionals. We’ve collected information from sources to create an informative summary of what you should be aware of when adopting a kitten with FIV. The information in here is NOT definitive and should be followed up with asking your vet for their opinion based on your cat’s medical history.
What is FIV?
FIV is short for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. Veterinarians and doctors specify that it is considered a lentivirus, which is the same family as HIV. According to the Virginia Beach’s SPCA Medical Director, “the virus attacks and compromises a cat’s immune system, making FIV positive cats more susceptible to infection.” This can mean that your kitten or cat is more likely to get sick. (Source: VBSPCA.org)
How is the virus transmitted and how did a kitten get it?
The virus is transmitted through bite wounds, the kind of bite that draws blood. Aggressive male cats tend to be infected more frequently because they fight more. While there is a vaccine available for FIV, it is not a vaccine that will prevent 100% of exposure cases. The only sure way to protect a cat against FIV is to keep it indoors and away from FIV+ cats. This is a species-specific virus, so there’s no danger of the virus spreading to humans. (Source: Cornell Feline Health Center online)
Infected mother cats can transmit FIV antibodies to nursing kittens, which can cause kittens to test positive for a few months after birth. However, most of these kittens aren’t truly infected. The Virginia Beach SPCA recommends retesting kittens until at least 6 months old to be sure about their FIV status. (Source: VBSPCA.org)
Now I know that this kitten has FIV and I still want to adopt it.
What should I know if I want to adopt a FIV+ kitten?
There’s no reason to believe that a FIV+ kitten will infect your other cats. As long as your cats don’t fight or spill blood, they should all be safe from each other. Here’s a few bullet points on what to watch out for:
- Most vets will recommend more frequent visits and specific medical history.
- Make sure to keep your FIV+ cat indoors. This prevents exposure to secondary diseases and keeps your cat from spreading the disease to others.
- A well-balanced diet can keep your cat safe. Raw food diets have the potential to expose your cat to a secondary disease.
- Parasite control (fleas, worms, and more) is important. Consult your vet to see which parasites are most frequent in your area.
- If you’re adopting an FIV+ kitten, they may not be truly infected. Ask your vet if your kitten should be retested at 6 months old.
In the long-term, most vets will tell you that FIV+ cats have a shorter lifespan than non-FIV+ cats. At the same time, the lifespan is still very long and can be rewarding. (Source: vbspca.com/everything-you-need-to-know-about-fiv-positive-cats, www.marvistavet.com/owning-a-feline-immunodeficiency-virus-positive-fiv-cat.pml)
If you’re worried about adopting an FIV+ cat or kitten, I’d recommend taking a look at the comments that Mini Cat Town received when we posted about one of our FIV+ kittens on social media. You’ll see firsthand accounts from owners who have cats with FIV with other cats in their households. Here are the links to the Facebook posts about three of our FIV+ kittens: Brittany, JamieLynn, and Holly. If you’re interested in adopting a kitten, please check out our available kittens!
These are a few quotes that stood out:
“I’ve had FIV+ cats live long and healthy lives along non FIV+ cats without any issues. There may be health issues along the way but I’ve not experienced this to be higher in FIV+ cats when compared to non FIV+ cats. When you adopt you need to commit to the lifelong needs of your kitty.”Silvia, Facebook
“I have an FIV positive cat who lives with my other four just fine. […] unless they bite another cat, it will not be transmitted. I had another one for 10 years and lived a wonderful life with my other cats.”Heidi, Facebook
“That makes me so sad. Our cats both have FIV and it’s NOT a death sentence by any means. They can live normal, healthy, long lives. 95% of what they need is the same as any other cat: good food, fresh water, an enriched indoor environment, a good vet, and lots of love.”fivfabulous, Instagram
If you’re interested in adopting a kitten, please check out our available kittens! If you ever have questions about any of our adoptable kittens, we’re here for you. Message us on social media, email us, or stop by our kitten lounge at Eastridge Mall.
- If you find any inaccuracies with this blog post, please email us and we’ll correct it.