Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is an often misunderstood condition.  According to the Feline Health Center at Cornell University, the virus affects approximately 1.5 to 3 percent of healthy cats in the United States, with slighly higher rates in cats that are sick or at high risk for infection.  FIV is a lentivirus, which means it moves very slowly, and it gradually affects a cat’s immune system.  It is passed from cat to cat through blood transfusions and serious, penetrating bite wounds.   FIV cannot be transmitted to humans.

There are a lot of misconceptions about this virus, and contrary to what many people believe, FIV cats can live long, healthy lives if cared for properly.  My former office cat, Virginia, lived to be 14, despite her FIV positive status.  This article hopes to dispel some of the myths surrounding this virus and provide a better understanding both for those who live with an FIV positive cat, but also for the many FIV positive cats in shelters and with private rescues who are looking for loving homes.  The fact that a cat has the virus should not automatically eliminate her from being considered for adoption!

Myth:  FIV can be spread through casual contact, such as cats sharing the same food or water bowls, or cats grooming each other.

Fact:  FIV is transmitted primarily through deep, penetrating bite wounds.  Casual, non-aggressive contact of cats living in the same household does not spread the virus.  On rare occasions, the virus is transmitted from the mother cat to her kittens, usually during passage of the kittens through the birth canal, or when they ingest infected milk.

Myth:  Cats infected with FIV show symptoms immediately.

Fact:  Infected cats may appear normal for years.  The only way to diagnose FIV is through a blood test.  A positive test indicates the presence of antibodies.  Since there is the possibility of false positives, veterinarians often recommend retesting, using a test with a different format.  In kittens born to an FIV positive nursing mother, antibody tests will most likely show positive results for several months, although these kittens are unlikely to be infected.  The kittens should be retested every two months until they’re six months old.

An infected cat may not show any symptoms at all, or his health may either deteriorate progressively,or show a pattern of recurring illness followed by long periods of good health.  Once FIV positive cats become symptomatic, you will typically see poor coat condition, loss of appetite, fever, inflammation of the gums and mouth (gingivitis or stomatitis), chronic and recurring infections of various organ systems, persistent diarrhea, slow weight loss, and various cancers and blood diseases.  Since all of these symptoms can be indicative of any number of other conditions, it’s important to work closely with your veterinarian if you have an FIV positive cat.  A case of “just not doing right” in a healthy cat that may resolve on its own in a day or two could be a precursor to a more serious condition in a cat with a compromised immune system.

Myth:  There is no treatment for FIV.

Fact:  While there is no cure for FIV, the disease can be managed by keeping FIV positive cats indoors, providing a healthy, balanced diet (due to the compromised immune system in these cats, raw feeding is not recommended), and regular, at least bi-annual veterinary check ups.  Vigilance and close monitoring of health and behavior is even more important in these cats than it is in other, healthy cats.

Myth:  Cats with FIV don’t live very long.

Fact: Many cats with FIV live well into their teens if they are receiving proper care and monitoring throughout their lives.

There is a vaccine available that is supposed to protect cats against contracting FIV, but the effectiveness is poorly supported by current research, and there is also a small risk of the cat developing sarcomas at the injection site.  Additionally, cats will always test positive for FIV after receiving the vaccine, so if they become ill later in life, there will be no way to eliminate FIV from the diagnosis.

An FIV infection does not have to be a death sentence, and it is not necessary to get rid of a cat who tests positive.   It also shouldn’t preclude adoption of an FIV positive cat.

Photo by Dan Davison, Flickr Creative Commons

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59 Comments on FIV: Separating Myth from Fact

  1. Why is raw feeding not recommended? If it is possible contamination of the food, commercial diets are far more likely to be the source of that.

    • The recommendation against raw feeding is due to the cat’s compromised immune system, not due to possible contamination of the food.

      • I question the issue with bacteria due to the fact that kibble has bacteria in it too. It is sprayed with fat and left on the shelf.
        My thinking is that raw would be much safer and easier on a FIV positive cat than kibble.
        Also, what about commercial raw that uses pressure to kill off bacteria?
        Anyways, awesome article! It was shared on the CatCentric facebook page! 🙂

        • I realize that the issue of whether FIV cats should be fed raw is controversial. I don’t recommend dry food, and I certainly agree with you that dry food can also contain bacteria (as many of the recent recalls of dry food have shown us.)

  2. Good morning
    I found your website online tonight and wanted to see if you had any suggestions. I have a cat named Precious he is about 14 and has fiv. He had gotten a cut and the wound got worse so we did surgery, it lasted about a month or two and came apart, he now has quite a but going on as far as open wounds that get worse, and the vet thinks he has a tumor in his rectum. She wants me to put him to sleep but I am having a terrible time, I just moved to FL and my husband is still in OH. when I got the message from her after he took him to the vet I went home to be with him, I could not put him down, I came back to Fl. now I am flying home again this Thursday the 8th of Jan and she wants to know if I have made a decision. I just do not want him to suffer and keep him her for me because that is selfish but when I look at him he looks fine until I look at the back of him:( he is on pain meds now but just trying to get someone that may know something to give me a second opinion. I love him so much and he is much more than a cat to me and it is tearing me up, I asked if she could do some type of laser to fix it, she says she could cut the tail off, graft skin from his thigh (this seems too cruel to even think about) but she says she does not think it will work and even if it does she thinks fecal matter will eventually start seeping out:( I just hate this because he is my baby and if I thought for a minute surgery would help and not be cruel to him I would do it but I do not want him to suffer

    I would love to be able to add the photos so you can see them to help give an idea? anywhere to do that.

    I could really use a second opinion right now

    Thanks so much for taking the time to read this

    • I’m so sorry about Precious, Teresa. It does sound like he needs pretty extensive surgery to get the wound to heal, and his FIV status will make that more challenging since he has a compromised immune system. I would get a second opinion from another vet, preferably one who specializes in surgery.

      • Thank you Ingrid
        The first vet I took him to over a year ago said there was nothing they could do then I found this vet and they did surgery and it seemed to work but then about a month or so later it came loose. and he was back to having blood everywhere again, she is saying he has a tumor in the rectum and that she could attempt another surgery and cut off the tail etc but that just seems so cruel:( especially if the surgery did not last like the last one. I am just so sad and and upset I keep clinging to any hope but it seems to be getting worse and I just do not want him to suffer but I also do not want to kill him (which is what I would be doing) if there is any possible way to make him better.

  3. Is there research to support your myths-facts? I would really like to have that for the rescue I work with. I have two FIV+ cats. One was pregnant when rescued. I fostered this cat and her kitten for ten months. The mother cat was very involved in raising her kitten – she nursed, cleaned, played, shared bowls, etc. The kitten, who was exposed to FIV in-utero, through nursing, through daily cleanings for 10 months, through bowl sharing, NEVER tested positive!! I ended up keeping the mother cat.

    When I decided years later to add another cat to the household, the rescue was reluctant to letting me adopt an FIV- cat. This was disappointing, so decided to adopt the only FIV+ cat they had. I suppose they don’t want to increase risk, but it’s heartbreaking to read other sites that encourage separation in multi cat households. The only way to spread this disease is through deep wound that result in blood transfusion. If cats living together are fighting like this, they would likely already be separated.

    Anyway, thanks for sharing this page. Again I would appreciate any research supporting what you’ve written. I know it must be out there!!

  4. Awesome article Ingrid….My husband and I just rescued a mom and 2 kittens that had been taped shut in a box and left in a Home Deport parking lot. We brought them home with us needless to say. We had mom tested for FIV and it came back positive. I’m assuming that’s why they were dumped. Anyway, we have 6 other cats and my concern is them sharing a litter boxes. What is the risk of passing on the virus in that?

    • Sherol, from reading previous posts on here, I feel confident in saying that there is really NO risk off liter box, food/water bowl sharing or contact with other cats (other than deep, blood-draawing penetrating bites) that will spread the disease. And I totally agree with Cindy, you are an amazing person for taking them in. so many people would have just dumped them in a shelter or gone in and deposited them with the store to deal with.

  5. My darling Kuching that I fostered lived 12 happy and healthy years.
    Her best friend was a neighbor’s dog Miles.

    She was the sweetest!

  6. Thank you for this post. The vet made it sound like I should be putting him to sleep, despite being otherwise healthy! My biggest concern outside of his health, was the health of my other cat (who I have not tested yet).

    I will be keeping the new cat, Kudos, and he will live with me and my other cat Sumo. I’ll just have to keep an eye on them to make sure they don’t fight. Maybe I’ll have them declawed if they insist on playing. Just gotta watch out for bites.

    Thank you very much. I am all torn up just finding out he has it. Poor kitty…

  7. Hi Ingrid, thank you so much for your article. My wife and I are living in Miami while I am in University. We are so amazed and saddened at the number of feral and stray cats down here that were needing homes. Our apartment complex is full of them. After feeding a few of them and making friends with some the stray my wife and I decided to adopt one. We have had him for a year and thankfully he is thriving. Over the fall we debated adopting another one of the strays that we had been feeding. He is a sweet boy and has the most wonderful eyes. Upon visiting the vet. yesterday, it was discovered that he is FIV+ after the initial testing. The vet. wants him to come back in a month to test again. We are concerned for both our guys.

    After reading your article, my wife and I both felt very relieved. Since the diagnosis we have been reading up on FIV and are feeling a little better. We were living with a lot of false assumptions like transmission via water/food bowls and litter boxes. It appears that this cloud over us is not as dark as we first thought. Thank you for educating us.

  8. Hi, I am from NY and we recently drove to VA to adopt a russian blue kitten. The shelter was very nice and the cat was updated with all the shots etc. We’ve had her for about 2 weeks and she started to show extreme weight loss, loss of energy, and didnt want to eat. After going back and forth with the vet its not determined (without the $300 test) that she has FIV. They drained fluid from her stomach and found a bright yellow substance. They feel the best thing to do is to put her down. My fiance and I are torn… The cat has regained some weight, has a huge appetite now, and goes to the bathroom (most of the time) in the litter box. No signs of diarrhea, nasal drip, sneezing etc. Her energy has definately taken a hit but she still can climb into the bed, run towards any sign of food and go up/down stairs. I know im being a bit naive but I have a hard time putting down a cat who is eating this well and not showing any severe signs other than the energy loss and the weight proportion (boney back, larger stomach). I wanted to get advice from this forum on what to do. I feel part of her recent energy loss was related to the draining of her stomach and the stress that put on her. I just want to see if anyone here can give an honest assessment on what we should do. We have another, older cat and we recently separated from the house for the time being. The vets are very nice people but they were far from certain that this is FIV and seemed very quick to have us per her down. The cat in the vet office was all over the place trying to eat the dog food etc. Anyway thanks for whatever comments and advice you can provide.

    • I’m so sorry about your kitten, Wes. If it’s truly FIV, I wouldn’t rush to euthanize based on one vet’s assessment. With proper care, FIV positive cats can live long happy lives. The fluid in the abdomen worries me, though – that can be a sign of the wet form of FIP, and unfortunately, there is no cure for it at this time. Did your vet even consider that this might be FIP? Here’s a link to the information on FIP from the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine:

      • Im sorry i think they did diagnosis (non-officially) as it being FIB (wet form). They drew fluid from the abdomen and didnt like her weight gain (distribution) and they feel its FIB. They basically said to put her down in a couple days. I’m really not sure what to do. We have a hard time putting down a cat when shes eating like crazy, going to the bathroom mostly normally, and getting around OK.

        • Oh, so they did diagnose FIP, although as you probably read in the Cornell link, there is no defnitive way to diagnose it. There’s a post here on my site about FIP, and you may want to read through the comments, although some of them are heartbreaking, but maybe reading about experiences others had with this terrible disease will help. Here’s the link:

          You’re in an awful position. If it’s FIP, there’s no cure. You also have your other cat to worry about. At the same time, I understand that it’s very difficult to make the decision to euthanize a seemingly happy kitten.

    • I’m so sorry your new kitten is sick. I think the only thing that confuses me is the FIV test. That seems very expensive for a test that is usually routine and done while checking for FELV. I don’t want to say that its overpriced or anything because I realize that tests like this can vary in price depending on where you live in the country. But I do think you should consider taking her to another vet for a second opinion about the FIV. Have you researched any type of illnesses that a Russian Blue might be prone to? We have a Siamese cat who gets very ill with gastritis about once a year. He would nearly die each time due to dehydration. I discovered that Siamese cats are more prone to gastritis and I now know exactly what to do in the early stages of an attack and have been able to treat him without going to a vet. I can tell that you’re a very loving and dedicated cat owner and I hope things work out for you and your little kitten. Best wishes.

  9. Hi, I find your article very informative and I was wondering if someone can help me clear up something. I adopted my cat when he was a baby and he have always like going outside. He seems very unhappy when we don’t let him. He is almost 4 years old now and he have been getting into fights a lot more over the past year. He have came home with big cuts a couple of times. The last time, he came home with a horrible limp and giant cut on his leg. I didn’t want to take him to the vet because when I took him to the vet previously for similar problem. They basically told me that there is nothing that they can do about it and I should just try to keep him inside. They tested him for fiv and said he didn’t have it. I didn’t want to take him again and have the same thing happen again because last time it cost me close to 400 for everything. I am a student and I can’t really afford these trips. He seem fine after a week or two but the wound didn’t seem to close for a couple of months. It would seem to get better and then worst again after a couple of week. I am not sure if he got bite again or if he is scratching it and reopening the wound. I am worried that he does have FIV now and that is why the wound is not healing. Its been months and its finally healed now. I am really not sure what to do and would appreciate any advice that you guys can give me. I rather not take him to the best if its not necessary because its so expensive but if that is the only thing that I can do to help him, I will definitely do it. If taking him to the vet is the best option, what should I do with the vet to ensure I am not being taken for my money? (I am sorry but sometimes when I am at the vet, I feel that they play at my heart strings to try and get a much money from me for my cat as possible even if the test/treatment not necessary)

    • I understand that money is a concern, Roxie. The American Association of Feline Practitioners recommends annual testing for cats who fight, and I agree with that recommendation. They also recommend that FIV positive cats are kept indoors so they can’t infect other cats. There is a vaccine against FIV, so if your cat tests negative, and you are going to continue to let him outside, you should get him vaccinated. I hope this helps!

      • I have heard the vaccine may have more negatives than positive attributes associated with it. You need to take your cat to the vet if it is injured seriously. Whether he has FIV or not, (in which case he should probaly be kept inside- for the safety of the cat) a wound that is not healing means that a vet visit is in order. See if you can try to raise money or get on a payment plan. Ask a vet about their thoughts on the matter- it is always good to get a professional opinion, and if your cat needs antibiotics, the vet will prescribe them. BUT since you said the wound healed..that’s great! But the only way to know if your cat has FIV is to take it to the vet and get a blood test. Another alternative is to try to raise money (bake sales! or websites that help with things like this where people donate- I had a friend that did that for her cat that needed surgery) OR you can try to get one of those credit cards that are for healthcare. One is called the Care Credit card, I use it for myself (for the dentist since I don’t have dental insurance) but I believe you can also use them for pets. Maybe that would be something that would be beneficial for you and your cat. If you feel the vet you usually go to is trying to sway you to certain treatments based on money, I would strongly suggest checking reviews and finding another vet. I promise they aren’t all like that! Don’t let bad vet experiences ruin it for you! Regular vet visits are not a waste of money. Maybe you just haven’t found the right one for you yet. Take care and good luck!

        • I one hundred percent agree with Marcia. It sounds to me like you need to find another vet. there are a LOT of extremely good vets out there that love animals and will do whatever they can for an animal. It sounds to me like the vet you go to chose the profession for the money and not because they like animals. If the cat has a big wound there IS things that they can and SHOULD do to help. among other things, stitching it up (if they are worried about build-up of puss in the wound they can put a drain in. Vets will often suggest treatments that would be a good idea but are not necessary. Good vets will make sure that you understand when it is just a suggestion and not a requirement. One question I have for you is this: is your cat neutered? I know from experience with previous cats that un-neutered cats, especially males are MUCH more likely to fight than neutered ones (less hormones and less feeling of need for territorial behavior which is what causes most cat fights). Find another vet!!!! one time I had to take my cat (well, really my parents’ cat, but I lived with them for over 8 years of the 15 years they had him, and so he was like a sibling to me and my parents couldn’t afford to take him to the vet) for a bad cut due to fighting…. had to take him to an Emergency vet clinic, they had to treat him with iv antibiotic, sedate him some to be able to clean and suture the wound, and kept him over night to do it all and the bill still only came to $360ish. Definitely find a new vet. The one you are talking about sounds like a disgrace to the title.

  10. thank you! It does help. I do feel like my cat is more off the wall and misbehaves when I am stressed. I love Jackson Galaxy, and will definitely read it and take the time on introducing them. I also hope it will help to start playing with my cat more often and for longer periods of time. If he get out more of that energy, he will probably be less likely to go after Buddy.

    • Structured play therapy is definitely a good idea, Marcia. I would do that with both cats.

      You may also want to consider some flower essences for both cats. Based on what you’re describing, I would use Peacemaker for both cats, Skin Soother for Buddy until his wound is healed, and possibly Hyper Helper for Lando.

    • Everyone-

      Thanks for the comments on this months earlier!!! Things were getting so much better…the cats were introduced and had interactions for short periods of time and seemed to be wary, but they did well. Sadly, after all that…Buddy took a turn for the worse (even though his skin was looking great and we did a great job getting his other chronic issues out of control). Long story short, he seemed more lethargic than usual and so we took him to the vet…seemed fine. Later that night he started howling in pain, so we rushed him to an emergency clinic. Turns out he had been declining and we were unaware. His red and white blood cell counts were extremely low, and he was very anemic. If we did a blood transfusion (which would have been expensive) he would probably have only had a few more months at the most. We had to make the decision to put him down. We were able to get his regular vet to do it, and we were there with him telling him how special he was and how much he was loved. He went peacefully, but it was so hard to say goodbye. The disease eventually took over…but everyone can learn from Buddy in that an FIV positive diagnosis does not mean they cannot have some happy years left. Buddy taught me a lot about life and about love- we miss him so much but we were so blessed to have him in our lives, and to be his “humans”.

  11. Marcia, I was in your shoes about 5 months ago when a beautiful shelter cat we adopted tested FIV positive. You don’t say for sure, but it sounds like you don’t know the background of your cat, its possible that he is FIV positive from the vaccine and not have the actual disease. I believe that’s the case with our cat, once she recovered from her cold she caught in the shelter, she has been healthy. We have 3 other cats and they share everything.

    You are making the right decisions, get him completely healthy and then introduce them slowly to each other. From what I understand, they have to have deep wounds to transmit this infection, so nipping and playing is unlikely to draw enough blood (if any). I’d be surprised if their playing together ever got to the point where they were actually fighting like feral cats.

    You could begin to just let them see each other without contact too. I know how stressed you are feeling, its normal. Take this all in steps and once his back is all healed up, introduce them slowly. Two cats are often better then one. They will probably be very happy together and you’ll enjoy having them both.

    Good Luck.

    • Cindy- thank you for the kind words of encouragement and advice also. Buddy is FIV positive because he used to be an outside cat and was fighting with other stray males. He had gotten in a fight, and his paw was infected. My boyfriend, being an animal lover like myself, took him to the vet, which is where it was discovered he had FIV. My boyfriend decided to keep him because he was very friendly. We think that he was not always a stray because unlike the other stray cats, he loves people. It’s estimated that he is about 5-7 years old. My cat is 5 years old, and has mellowed somewhat, but he’s into everything, I have had to “cat proof” my apartment. But I love him dearly, and he’s only really affectionate towards me. He “tolerates” other people. He does like other animals- he liked a chihuahua my old roommate had. I also lived in another apt a few years ago with a girl who had another cat. That cat hated all other cats, but of course, my cat (whose name is Lando) wanted to play with him and be near him. It would turn into a scuffle when Lando would chase him and pounce on him. The other cat would hiss and growl and make these terrible sounds and we would break it up. However, no blood was ever drawn from any of those incidents, but of course I would never allow that kind of contact with Buddy- want to avoid that. I have wondered if it would help to get a third cat for Lando to focus on – perhaps then he wouldn’t be interested in Buddy. Not sure if that would just end up creating an even more complicated situation. I also don’t’ think too much change is good for the cats at once. Lando is going to have to adjust to Buddy. They have met once – my boyfriend was boarding Buddy at the vet last weekend while we went out of town. He brought him over in his carrier and spent the night in the spare bedroom with Buddy,. (was easier to bring him to the vet in the A.M and we thought it would be good for them to sniff each other through the carrier). So Buddy was in his carrier, and I let Lando walk up and sniff it. Buddy did nothing but meow a couple times. Of course Lando, being the cranky kitty he is, hissed at buddy about 3 times over a period of 15-20 min. No growling, just hissing periodically. (maybe 3 times or so). Not sure if this was more territorial or if it was because Lando felt insecure and didn’t know what to do. Sorry that was a super long response. Thanks everyone!!

      • Oh I should mention, where buddy is from is my boyfriend’s parent’s property in Southern Maryland. He was one of a bunch of cats that showed up near the house…strays, I guess. His mother started feeding them. The law in maryland is that if you feed a stray cat, you become legally responsible for it. They had to get them all tags, but they still live outside. When my boyfriend would visit his parents house he’d always see the cats- especially Buddy, who was friendly and took a liking to him.

  12. This information is extremely helpful to me. I have been a nervous wreck. Long, long story short- my boyfriend took in an outside cat a few years ago that was hanging out around his parents house…turns out he is FIV positive. He is now an indoor only cat. He is extremely sweet. The only chronic, ongoing terrible problem is that Buddy (FIV + cat) has open wounds often. He scratches his back- from infections (he gets antbiotic treatment and sees his vet often) and from stress, I think. Some of his scratching appears to also be behavioral. He never can heal up because he keeps scratching, it’s a cycle. We have decided to have his back claws removed, after exhausting all other options. We really need his back to heal because I won’t allow him around my cat- mainly because of the open wounds. Here is our current problem. My boyfriend is 39, I am 28. We want to move forward with our lives and with our relationship. I have one cat who is FIV negative. My cat is extremely rambunctious and playful, he can sometimes play rough, and likes to chase. I am terrified of having them together- I know i’ve read (and you have written) that casual contact cannot spread the disease. But I keep hearing “there is always a chance” from other sources. I feel like I don’t want Buddy in the home unless his back is healed- then I will feel better, so that is what we are working on now. But I am worried how I will manage my stress level..I’m afraid that if/when the boyfriend and the cat move in that I will be constantly worried about the cats interacting. I don’t know what to do. If there were no open/healing wounds do you think it is safe for the cats to be living together? I am usure of the proper way to introduce them. I have a two bedroom apt, so I can try keeping Buddy in the spare room for awhile…but I still am distraught over this. We both love our pets, and want the best for them. I know this might sound ridiculous but it is causing a great strain on our relationship.

    • It’s not ridiculous at all, Marcia. I completely understand that you want to do what’s best for you cats, and that can be stressful, given the situation you’re dealing with.

      There’s a chance that the FIV is responsible for Buddy’s slow healing wounds, and the fact that he keeps aggravating things by scratching is, of course, not helping. Casual contact does not spread FIV, but if you have a rambunctious cat who may bite during rough play, there’s always a chance that you’ll end up with a bite wound, and possible transmission.

      If you decide to introduce the two cats, I’d make sure to go very slow. Here’s a great article, written by Jackson Galaxy, on how to do it right:

      One of the best things you can do for your situation (all aspects of it), is to try and manage your own stress. I know it’s easier said than done, but cats are sensitive creatures who pick up on our emotions, and the more stressed you are, the more stressed they’re going to be.

      I hope this helps.

  13. I can’t thank you enough for this information. We adopted a shelter cat yesterday and when we took her to the vet for her check-up we discovered she was FIV positive. I’ve never heard of this before and didn’t know what to do. If she goes back to the shelter, they will put her down. We have 3 other cats and the vet said we might have to find her a home with no other cats, which would be almost impossible. After reading this, I think we will keep her with us and introduce her slowly into our household. The vet mentioned a test that might be able to tell if she tested positive because of the vaccine, or if she really has FIV. Have you heard of a test like that? Thank you again.
    Kind Regards,

    • I’m sorry about your kitty, Cindy, but as you can see, FIV+ cats can live long, happy lives with the right care. If your vet hasn’t already done so, I would recommend retesting with a different test just to be sure. False positives do occasionally occur. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that any of the available tests can distinguish between the virus and the vaccine. Best wishes to your kitty!

  14. Pingback: Conscious Cat Sunday: The three dreaded "F" diseases | The Conscious Cat
  15. Hi Ingrid!
    Thanks for posting the latest facts about FIV.
    Our 18-year-old cat Zooloo became FIV+ approximately 10 years ago. We tried to separate him and our other cat, a female named Cleo, when he was first diagnosed. We realized quickly that was not going to work… at all. Zooloo was never so vicious as to bite Cleo to where his teeth broke the skin so we took a chance and continued having them live together. Of course, it was difficult at first since Zooloo was used to going outside but he eventually got used to being confined indoors.
    For the first 8 years since his diagnosis, I administered interferon daily through the mouth for one week and off the next. If he was doing well, I’d give him a break from the meds. If he seemed a bit sluggish, I’d resume his regimen. Zooloo does not take well to pills, needles, etc. but the oral liquids are not a problem. Interferon, at least in his case, would perk him back up.
    I realize now that I could write volumes so I’ll be brief. Suffice it to say, our little Cleo lived to be 13 years old and died from pancreatic cancer. We had her tested for FIV and she never contracted the virus.
    Today, Zooloo’s kidneys are beginning to fail so he has lost weight but he is still so vibrant and full of life! He is truly a fighter. We call him the Magic Johnson of Cats. Interferon is too much for his little system to take at this point and giving him fluids via needle is simply out of the question. Ultimately, FIV is probably not going to be the main cause of his demise. We may not have much more time left with him but we’ve been wrong about that before.

    • I’m sorry to hear Zooloo (love the name!) is starting to decline, DeAnn, but it sounds like you’ve given him a wonderful, full life despite his FIV status. It’s hard when they get to this stage where there’s not all that much we can do for them medically. It sounds like he’s still enjoying life. Treasure every moment you have left with him!

  16. Around three years back we were doing TNR at my husband’s work and one of the first was a young male. We had him desexed and were about to return him when he developed a huge abscess on his neck. After surgery the wound did not knit very well and when the stitches were removed it fell open.
    There ensued a long road of problems and uppermost in my mind was that he was really FIV positive.
    The vet suggested we euthanise if the test was positive but we were adamant we would not.
    The wound became infected so many times and I took so many photos of it in its various stages, tried everything we could think of or research besides the antibiotics so often required. The last comment by another vet was that we might as well try everything within reason as we were looking down the barrel of a gun. The wound was two years in the healing and it finally closed.
    We have a multi multi cat household and this guy is such a character, he stands out amongst the others and gets on well with them all.
    We don’t know what’s in store for him or us in the future but at least he is having a life that is happy in the meantime.
    He does eat raw, won’t tolerate anything else and fingers crossed will continue to thrive.
    In fact we have to lock him in a cage with his food at night so he can’t go and eat everybody elses!

    Thanks Ingrid for this information, much appreciated!

    • Of course he thrives on raw meat Margret. Cats are not meant to eat cooked meat. eg they can digest raw bones but cannot digest cooked bones. That has to tell us something. Cooked and processed foods will greatly reduce their body’s ability to dealwith illness because it us a completely UNNATURAL diet. Organic small animal meats would be the closest thing to an optimum diet.

  17. Pingback: Don’t believe the myths, especially the urban ones
  18. That’s an outdated recommendation, Daniela – unfortunately one that many people still believe. FIV+ cats can share a household with negative cats becuase the only way FIV is transmitted is through deep, penetrating bite wounds – something that’s not likely to happen in a household of cats who get along with each other.

  19. Ingrid, very good post. Thank you. It is still recommended that FIV + cats not share a household with FIV – cats?

  20. Great post Ingrid! We have 2 happy, healthy, thriving FIV+ felines that eat our raw diet. They’re mainstreamed with our other cats and we follow a separate feeding protocol (designated dishes), more to avoid any of the cats passing anything to each other. Thanks for spreading the good word!

  21. Love this post. Great information. I was under the false impression that sharing a feeding bowl would spread FIV, so glad to learn that is not correct. All cat lovers must spread this good news.

  22. That is great information. Many many years ago, I had two cats come up with FIV and they were really sick. I don’t think vets at that time wanted to bother with treating them so we just put them to sleep. It was all very sad. And the other cats that lived with the three that had the FIV did not get sick. So it doesn’t spread all the easily. Anyway, great post. Have a great week.

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