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A FIV+ Result - Now What?

Updated: Feb 12, 2021

A compassionate woman contacted us asking for help with the two cats and their collective 8 kittens that she rescued from the streets. The mamma cats appeared to be very bonded and given their ages and appearance, we are guessing they were sisters. Because of their bond, the rescuer set up a big box in her home where the sisters could relax and nurse their babies together. They were so comfortable with each other, they even nursed one another's babies. 

Bereet and Jean Grey - Sisters

After we picked up everyone, we took them straight to Dr. Amanda Blake at North Veterinary Veterinary Clinic where they received an exam and tested them for FELV (feline leukemia virus) and FIV (feline immunodeficiency virus). That was when we got the bad news. One of the moms, Bereet, tested positive for FIV. But this isn't as scary as it sounds! 

All of these kittens had now nursed on the infected mom. Should we be worried? What do we do now?

Yondu, Ego and siblings at 3 weeks old

FIV is a disease that cats can get from other cats with the disease, typically through a deep bite wound. It is rarely passed to kittens from the mother. However, the mom will pass her antibodies to her kittens. Since that is what we are looking for in the cat's blood that results in a positive or negative FIV test, we can't trust a kitten's positive test result until after 6 months. That's when the maternal antibodies will be gone from their system. 

We can test kittens starting at 8 weeks old and if a kitten tests negative, they are disease free! If they test positive, we need to retest them every 60-90 days until we receive a negative result or they are 6 months old. That's the first positive test result we can trust. 

Jean Grey and 8 kittens

Why are you telling me all of this?

We typically spend about $200 getting each cat/kitten for adoption. That includes being examined by a veterinarian, being dewormed, receiving all necessary vaccinations, being spayed or neutered, receiving a microchip and being tested for FELV/FIV. Unfortunately, now we will need to spend more to test each kitten, potentially multiple times. People are understandably nervous when they hear a pet is positive for a disease. We get it! But it means we may also need to house them longer as well, which means more food and supplies for every day they aren't in a forever home. We are thrilled to keep loving these babies for as long as necessary, but we need your help.

There are many ways to help!

Can I adopt an FIV+ cat if I have other cats?

Yes, not only can they live a long, happy life with your other cats. It is typically transmitted through deep bite wounds. If your cats are getting along, or even if they have a bit of a tussle now and then, your cat should be safe. 

How long will an FIV+ cat live and will they get sick a lot?

According to DVM360 ( "Cats with FIV can live long and healthy lives. In fact, studies over the last 10 years or so have shown that cats with FIV often live as long as otherwise healthy cats that do not have this virus. Many of these cats age normally and never show signs of FIV-related illness." They also recommend regular vet visits every 6 months to get the jump on any illnesses they may have been exposed to. 

What if my cat and my FIV+ cat and my current cat are fighting?

Separate the cats physically into separate rooms and contact us! We'll see what we can do to help even if you didn't get your cats from us. It doesn't mean all is lost, so don't lose hope! Cats are complicated little creatures and we need to take one step at a time to figure out what is causing the problem. 

Check out more FAQs about FIV+ positive cats! If you have any questions about FIV+ or adopting an FIV+ cat, please contact us

Bereet and Jean Grey's kittens napping

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