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Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV)

FIV typically causes a weakening of a cat’s immune system. It is the same class of virus as HIV. However, only cats can get FIV; people and dogs cannot.

How do cats get FIV?

The most common route of infection is a deep bite wound from an FIV-positive cat to another cat. FIV-positive cats can also spread the virus to their kittens at birth and from their milk. It is rare but possible for cats to get FIV just from being around infected cats, sharing food bowls or from a person touching an FIV-positive cat and then touching a cat without FIV.

What are the signs of FIV infection?

There are no specific symptoms or signs of an FIV infection. FIV weakens a cat’s immune system and makes them more prone to getting infections such as: upper respiratory infection, ringworm and dental disease.

How can I tell if my cat has FIV?

The only way to tell if your cat is FIV-positive is for your vet to perform a blood test. A cat can test positive as early as two to four weeks after exposure, but in some cases it can take up to eight weeks.

Kittens under six months of age may falsely test positive after receiving antibodies from their mother, either in utero or through milk. It can take up to six months for these antibodies to go away, so it’s a good idea to retest a kitten who tests positive after they reach six months of age to determine if they are actually infected.

Can FIV be treated?

There are no proven treatments to rid a cat of FIV. Most FIV-positive cats can handle the disease well, but it’s important to concentrate on treating any secondary illnesses that occur.

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

Because it can spread between cats it is not recommended to permit an FIV positive cat to live with an FIV negative cat.

Can FIV-positive cats have a good and long life?

Absolutely, FIV-cats can live normal lives both in quality and duration. FIV-positive cats may require extra vet care and should have frequent check-ups (twice a year). In order to help your cat live the best life and prevent the spread of FIV, cats with the virus must be indoor cats.

Information courtesy of