Cats with FIV are POSITIVEly adoptable!
Buddha is a large five-year-old orange cat who loves to give hugs and head-butts. Ginny is a one-year-old long-haired calico with a lovely disposition. What do these two cats have in common, besides being mellow, affectionate, and up for adoption?
Both Buddha and Ginny are FIV positive.
FIV – short for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus – may sound scary, but there is nothing to fear!
The virus is very similar to HIV, but cannot be spread from cat to human, or even from cat to dog. It can be spread to other cats, but not as easily as once thought. Rarely, it can be transmitted through mating, but more often it is transmitted through deep muscle punctures from bites. Just scratches or even superficial bites will not spread the virus ; nor will mutual grooming or sharing food bowls.
The virus eventually leads to a state of immune deficiency where a cat may be more susceptible to infection, and those infections may be harder on the cat than a cat would experience who is not infected with this virus. Many cats who are positive for FIV live years without getting to this point, and therefore live perfectly normal lives!
We recently had a very successful adoption of an FIV-positive cat named Belladonna, who is has settled into her new forever home as a beloved member of the family.
One thing I have noticed about FIV-positive cats is that they almost always have the absolute best personalities. They are so loving and gentle – it’s almost like they know they are different and that some people may be afraid of what they have, so they try their darnedest to make up for it!
Even when cats get to the point where their immune system is compromised, they often will still continue to live perfectly normal lives, with normal life spans – they rely on their owners to keep them safe by keeping them indoors to avoid picking up any ‘bugs’ or getting in to fights, as well as providing them with regular veterinary care.
FIV has unfortunately fallen victim to many myths and misconceptions, which has demonized the virus as “death sentence” that will spread rapidly throughout a community of cats. Thankfully, various veterinary studies and medical evidence have proven these theories wrong, but it has been hard to get the word out and make an FIV diagnosis less worrisome.
When FIV was first discovered 30 years ago, nearly all veterinarians recommended immediate euthanasia of all cats who tested positive – and unfortunately even now many vets still believe this is the right thing to do, despite studies showing that they should be given the same chance as any cat.
Studies have even shown that the transmission of the disease between cats is so uncommon that FIV-positive cats can live with FIV-negative cats with a relatively slim chance of spreading it – assuming the cats are able to live harmoniously without fighting.
One particular study monitored 45 FIV-positive cats who lived with non-infected cats, and over an average time period of 12 years, the virus was not transmitted in any of the households.
Most cats who are positive for FIV are outdoor, un-fixed males. These types of cats are highly territorial and their best way of asserting themselves is through fighting. Thankfully, neutering these cats often will quell these tendencies, and these cats often can live harmoniously with others without fights.
With more positive messaging and factual information, we hope that more cats like Buddha, Ginny and Belladonna will find forever homes and live long and loving, happy and healthy lives!
To allow these wonderful cats to receive amazing homes GTHS has waived the adoption fees, and FIV cats are available “by donation” only.