FIV, often called feline AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), is a virus in cats that weakens a cat’s immune system. This means they could get very unwell or even die from illnesses and diseases a healthy cat could survive, so they need a few adjustments make sure they live a happy and full life. Unfortunately there is no treatment for FIV in cats.
FIV takes a long time to develop in cats, sometimes up to five years before they show symptoms. Symptoms to look out for include:
There’s no vaccine or treatment to prevent your cat getting FIV. However, getting your cat neutered may reduce the risk of them getting FIV.
FIV is passed between cats mainly through their saliva (so if they bite each other) and by blood and other bodily fluids. This means the virus can be transferred during fighting and mating. A queen can also pass it on to her kittens.
Neutering your cat has lots of benefits, including preventing them from transferring the virus during mating, roaming as far and making them less likely to fight – particularly if you have a male cat. This then lowers the risk of your cat catching FIV.
If your cat has FIV or you’re thinking of adopting a cat with FIV, there’s no reason they can’t still live a full and happy life. You will have to make some changes though and treat them slightly different to a healthy cat. For an FIV cat, you’ll need to think about:
Occasionally some of our branches and centres may have an FIV cat who needs rehoming. It’s important to do plenty of research before committing to adopt a cat with extra needs (such as one with FIV). You will need to be prepared to take on a cat who needs to stay indoors and you may have to shop around more for pet insurance.
Most catteries won’t have a problem taking care of an FIV cat, as the virus isn’t transferred via hands or clothes and can be killed with disinfectant. It’s always best to check first, though, and make sure your cat’s vaccinations are up to date.
FIV is a virus specific to cats. While it can be passed from one cat to another, humans and other animals such as dogs cannot get FIV.