AHS' first FIV-positive cat goes home!Webber Family kitten adoption

As the Arizona Humane Society continues to search for new ways to save the lives of more homeless animals, we are thrilled to announce our newest initiative – placing FIV-positive felines up for adoption. Robin is a sweet, 10-week-old, FIV-postive kitten. When the Webber family came to the Arizona Humane Society looking to expand their family, they saw Robin and fell in love. Veterinarians consulted with the family at the time of adoption and were thrilled with the match! Robin is officially a Webber, joining her human siblings as well as two dogs.

Have questions about adopting a FIV-positive cat?

There is a lot of misinformation about FIV-positive cats. Whether you're thinking of adopting or just looking to learn, we hope these frequently asked questions will help.

What is FIV in cats?

FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a slow virus that affects a cat's immune system over a period of years. FIV is a cat-only disease and cannot be spread to humans or other non-felines.

How do cats get FIV?

One of the tissues in which FIV lives is the salivary glands, so the most common route of infection is a deep bite wound from a FIV-positive cat to another cat. It can also be transmitted via blood, in utero and possibly from milk from an infected mother cat. It is extremely unlikely, if not impossible, for cats to get FIV from just being around infected cats, from sharing food bowls, or from a person touching an FIV-positive cat and then touching a FIV-negative cat.

Can FIV-negative and FIV-positive cats live together?

Yes! FIV is not easily passed between cats. It is unlikely to be spread casually in litter boxes, water and food bowls, or when snuggling and playing. Because serious bite wounds are the most common manner of transmission, a spayed/neutered, well-mannered cat, in a home, is extremely unlikely to infect other cats. The risk that a FIV-positive cat could spread the virus to a FIV-negative cat can be minimized by properly introducing your cats. If there is no fighting among cats, the risk of infection is low. However, there is no guarantee that transmission will not occur.

Adopt a FIV-postive Cat from AHSCan FIV-positive cats have a good and long life?

Many FIV cats often live long, healthy, and relatively normal lives with no symptoms at all. FIV-positive cats should be kept as healthy as possible. Keep them indoors and free from stress, feed them a high-quality diet, keep and treat any secondary problems as soon as they arise.

How should FIV-positive cats be cared for?

FIV-positive cats should be spayed/neutered and kept indoors. They will need a nutritionally balanced diet as well as regular veterinary checkups. FIV gradually destroys the immune system so the cat becomes unable to respond properly to other infections. Responding to signs of illness or infection immediately will help keep your FIV-positive cat healthy

How is FIV diagnosed?

There are no obvious signs of FIV so the only way to know is to do a blood test. If this test is positive, it's likely that your cat is infected by the virus. A cat can test positive as soon as two to four weeks after exposure, but it can take up to eight weeks. Kittens who test positive should be retested when they are six months old as they may test positive after having received antibodies from their mothers, either in utero or via milk. It can take up to six months for these antibodies to go away. A positive test in a young kitten may be negative when tested after six months of age.

Can FIV be treated?

There are no proven treatments to rid a cat of FIV. It’s important to establish a relationship with your veterinarian for recommendations for on-going care.

Are there vaccinations available?

There is a vaccine available, although it is not 100 percent effective in preventing infection. Because FIV is not easily spread, the use of the vaccine is not widely recommended. However, if you bring an FIV-positive cat into your home, it is best to speak with your veterinarian regarding the pros and cons of vaccinations.

Are people or other animal species at risk from the virus?

No, the virus does not affect any other pets such as dogs, rabbits, etc. FIV is species specific and only affects felines.

What can be done to prevent the spread of FIV?

Follow the appropriate protocols for safely introducing cats in the home to prevent fighting. Keep positive cats indoors to prevent potential exposure of other cats. The virus doesn’t survive long in the environment so disinfection isn't of great value.

Does the Arizona Humane Society place FIV-postive cats up for adoption?

Yes! AHS is proud to help these deserving kitties find their way into forever homes. You can find all of our adoptable cats at azhumane.org/cats
June 28, 2016