FIV Information

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

What is it?
It’s a virus that damages a cat’s immune system making it susceptible to illness.

What are the symptoms?
If a cat’s had several illnesses, suspect FIV.

How is it spread?
Mainly by biting during fighting. Possibly by sharing food and water bowls and mutual grooming but risk of transmission via these routes is low.

Is there a vaccine for it?
Yes. The vaccine should protect your cat 6 to 7 out of every 10 times it’s exposed. (No vaccine is 100% effective.)  It is VERY important to know that should you decide to vaccinate your cat against FIV, that he/she will now test positive for the disease for the rest of their life.  This can be concerning if your cat ends up in a shelter that tests for the disease but does not have the facilities to care for FIV+ cats.  Be sure to remember this detail should you move and have to switch vets. 

Is it contagious to humans or other animals?
No, it’s species-specific which means it only affects cats.

How long will a cat survive?
Depending on the infections it’s weathered, several months to several years.

What’s the treatment?
Drug therapies may be available but prompt, effective management of secondary infections is the most important.

How soon can you adopt a new cat after having an FIV+ cat?
The virus itself won’t survive for more than a few hours outside the cat. But in case the cat had any secondary infections, clean with a solution of 4 ounces of bleach to 1 gallon of water.

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