Adopt a FIV+ Cat!

Updated June 8th, 2024

For a variety of reasons, many potential adopters shy away from our FIV+ cat room. Perhaps when adopters hear what FIV is, they get scared? Or they think FIV cats will be more work than a non-FIV cat? There are many misconceptions about FIV+ cats and that causes our FIV+ cats not to receive enough attention and love!

“We have beautiful cats at VAC that have been with us for a long time because people turn away at their FIV diagnosis. We try really hard to get them adopted but it seems the moment we say they are FIV+, adopters’ interest goes out the window which is really unfortunate because they are great cats!” – Maritza, Cat Care Supervisor

Read on to learn more about FIV and please give an FIV+ cat another chance at a furever home when you next step into an animal shelter.

What is FIV?

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a disease where the virus attacks a cat’s immune system by targeting white blood cells. Over time, this constant attack leads to a cat having a weaker immune system. Once the immune system is compromised, cats are left more susceptible to illnesses and infections. Learn more about the specifics of what the virus is doing to the cat HERE. It may sound scary to hear that a cat has a weaker immune system, but this doesn’t mean FIV cats are doomed for life. A weak immune system means they may get ill more easily, but it doesn’t mean a FIV cat will always be in detriment health.

The main way FIV is transferred from a FIV+ cat to a non-FIV cat is through deep bite wounds. Typically, normal interactions such as cats sharing the same water bowl or being groomed together does not seem to efficiently spread the virus. If you currently have cats who are a mixture of FIV+ and non-FIV cats, as long as fights don’t occur, there could be little risk of the virus transferring to the non-infected cat.

At Valley Animal Center, we want our FIV+ cats to be adopted as an only cat, or be adopted into households who already have FIV+ cats. This is to mitigate any risk right from the start to our adopters and their current pets. Under special circumstances, we may consider adopting to other households. 

FIV does not transfer to humans or dogs. It is a virus specific to felines. 

How do I care for an FIV+ cat? 

FIV+ cats can still live long and fulfilling lives just like a normal cat. If you adopt an FIV+ cat, however, there are some things you should consider:

  1. Your FIV+ cat is safest being indoors. Because FIV+ cats’ immune systems are already compromised, it is safest for them to remain an indoor cat. Being outside will only increase their risk of contracting any other illness or sickness that may prove dangerous to their already weakening immune system. 
  2. Nutrition and exercise are even more important to FIV+ cats. Your FIV+ cat doesn’t necessarily need special food, but a balanced diet and healthy amounts of activity level will go a long way in ensuring their health is at the best possible. 
  3. Regular vet visits are important! Although you should be bringing your pets to the vet regularly, it’s even more vital that your FIV+ cat sees a vet regularly. Remember, there is no cure for FIV. So, it’s important you stay as current on your FIV+ cat’s health as much as possible.

“There’s a lot of misinformation on FIV. I would encourage people to get more informed. FIV cats can live long, happy, and healthy lives. The virus only weakens their immune system, making their chances of getting ill a little higher but as long as they are vaccinated, have their yearly exam, and kept indoors, they will be happy.” – Maritza

Should I adopt a FIV+ cat?

Now that you know more about FIV+ cats, we don’t want you to be scared away! Yes, these cats may need more vet visits than an otherwise healthy cat, but for the most part, they are more than capable of living long and fulfilling cat lives!

FIV is a slow acting virus and your FIV+ cat can potentially live for many years without ever showing any signs of the disease! It’s also possible that they may never show any detrimental effects at all. Your FIV+ cat may die at an old age from causes that are unrelated to their FIV

We would love it if you would be able to give our FIV+ cats a second chance at a furever home. Our Cat Adoption Center is open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., so feel free to drop by and visit our FIV+ cats!