Your Questions Answered: What is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, FIV?

result of FIV, many shelter cats don’t get adopted because people don’t understand the virus. Here’s the real story and the facts about FIV!

Q. There is a cat at the shelter named Pete who my parents and I really want to adopt, but we were told he has FIV. What does that mean?


A. FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It is a virus that affects a cat"s immune system. Just like humans, a healthy immune system fights diseases that come into the body. But FIV weakens the immune system, making cats vulnerable to other infections.


Q. I"m confused between FIV and FeLV. What"s the difference?


A. FeLV is short for Feline Leukemia Virus. FIV and FeLV are similar diseases because they both affect a cat"s immune system. There is a vaccine for FeLV which helps keep the virus from spreading if a cat has been given the vaccine. Right now, there is no vaccine available for FIV.


Q. Is FIV contagious?


A. Humans and dogs cannot contract FIV from a cat. It can be passed to other cats, but only through blood contact. That means a serious bite wound or a mother cat to her kittens. Cats aren"t known to get FIV by sharing a water bowl, toy, or litter box. They also aren"t known to get FIV through normal play or grooming. Many FIV cats live with non-FIV cats with no problems whatsoever.


On the other hand, FeLV can be passed to other cats through casual contact like grooming or sharing a litter box, but it cannot be passed to humans or dogs.


Q. Can FIV or FeLV be cured?


A Unfortunately, no. Once a cat gets FIV or FeLV, he will have it for life.


Q. Since Pete has FIV, won"t he get really sick?


A. Not necessarily. FIV cats can live long, healthy lives, and there are a few things you can do to help Pete stay in tip-top shape. Since FIV affects the immune system, it"s best to keep him indoors. Make sure he"s always up-to-date on his vaccinations. Also, supervise any introductions to non-FIV cats in case they don"t get along. If you have specific questions, locate a veterinarian who has experience in caring for FIV cats.


Q. So you"re saying that we can still adopt Pete?


A. Absolutely! Cats with FIV are waiting to find their forever homes too.


For more information on FIV, click here.


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