Myths and Truths About FIV

by judy • Posted in: Awareness/ PR, Pets Needing Homes, Special Needs Pets

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, a condition that weakens a cat’s immune system. Most of us have heard of FIV, however, myths about the disease abound and are easily mistaken for reality.

APA rescue cat, Jud

Judd is a sweet, mellow Manx mix. He loves ear scratches and will let you know when he isn’t getting enough by giving gentle “head butts!” Judd is also FIV positive (+). Read Judd’s full profile.

Let’s break down some of the myths and rumors about FIV….

Myth: My other cats will get FIV from eating out of the same bowls or sleeping with a FIV+ cat.

Truth: FIV is only transmitted through blood transfusions, serious penetrating bite wounds, or intercourse (but of course all APA cats are fixed!). Other cats cannot get FIV through casual contact with Judd or any other FIV + cat.

APA rescue cat, Nancy

Nancy gets along fine with other cats, but isn’t such a big fan of dogs. She is a bit of an “attention hog” and loves to cuddle and be held. Nancy is FIV+ and needs a family to love on her. Read Nancy’s full profile.

Myth: Cats with FIV don’t live long and require special care.

Truth: Many FIV+ cats live long, healthy lives. They can live their entire life without ever coming down with any symptoms of FIV. As long as they are not exposed to any other virus or bacteria that their weakened immune system can’t handle, they can live healthy, normal lives. For this reason, cats with FIV should be kept indoors, fed a balanced, nutritionally complete diet (no raw meats), and should see a vet twice per year.

APA rescue cat, Duane

Duane is an affectionate, lover type. He will happily sit on your lap while you watch a movie together. Duane is FIV+ and is looking for a permanent place to call home. Read Duane’s full profile.

Myth: My dogs or children are at risk of contracting FIV.

Truth: FIV is a species- specific disease. It cannot be transmitted to humans or any other animal. Your dog, horse, iguana or gerbil cannot contract FIV.

APA rescue cat, Kismet

Kismet is shy at first, but warms up to become a chatty, cuddly lady, who happens to be a good hunter! Kismet is FIV+ and is looking for her very own forever family. Read Kismet’s full profile.

Cats with FIV must be live indoors and can happily live with other indoor, non-aggressive cats. They need to be protected from bacteria and viruses in the outdoor environment that could hurt them due to their weakened immune systems. (Regular vaccinations, spaying/neutering, and treatment for fleas, mites and worms are important for FIV+ cats.)

Judd, Nancy, Duane and Kismet all need a little TLC in a forever home. Just take one look at their sweet faces, meet them and hear their gentle purrs, and you’ll soon realize that you will get back ten times the love you give!

For more information on any of these kitties or to inquire about adoption, please send an email to: email hidden; JavaScript is required.

Joel wanted to foster a cat. He already shared his home with Mr. K, a FIV+ stray he was lucky enough to find about three years ago. Since he already had experience with a FIV+ pet, Joel was happy to foster Nanook, who is also FIV+. But when Joel would take Nanook to APA adoption events, he found himself hoping that nobody would adopt him. He realized he had already fallen for Nanook, so Joel made him a permanent member of their home. It’s been almost a year now and Nanook still shows no FIV symptoms. Joel takes both cats for vet check-ups once or twice a year, but no other special care has been required. Both Nanook and Mr. K are about 7-8 years old, FIV+, and they lead full, healthy, joyful lives in their forever home with Joel.

For more information on FIV, please visit the following web sites:

Thanks to APA Volunteers Bobbi Johnson for writing this story, Angela Lozano for photos of Nancy, and of course, to the wonderful fosters who care for the kitties mentioned in this story.

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