FIV – Fact & Fiction

Eddie is a 5-year-old FIV+ kitty who's just as sweet as can be. He loves under-the-chin scratches and snuggles. Learn more!
Eddie is a 5-year-old FIV+ kitty who’s just as sweet as can be. He loves chin scratches and snuggles. Learn more!

What is FIV?
The Feline Immunodeficiency Virus is a slow-developing virus that weakens the feline immune system. It’s estimated that 3 percent of cats nationwide are infected with FIV; mostly unaltered males due to their tendency to roam and fight while looking for a mate.

How is it transmitted?
FIV is spread between cats through blood transfusions, deep bite wounds, and less commonly, through intercourse or an infected mother’s milk to nursing kittens. Sharing a litter box, sleeping area, toys, water bowl or other items will NOT transmit FIV between cats.

Can humans or other pets get FIV?
No, FIV is a feline-specific disease. Although FIV is similar to HIV in the way the virus works, it cannot be spread to any other species.

This chubby-cheeked boy is Nicholas, a 4-year-old black and white kitty. Adopt Nicholas!
This chubby-cheeked boy is Nicholas, a 4-year-old black and white kitty. Adopt Nicholas!

How will FIV affect a cat’s life expectancy?
Most FIV cats can live long, healthy and happy lives just like any other cherished feline. Due to a weakened immune system, they are more susceptible to secondary infections so it’s important that they be indoor only companions and fed a nutritionally balanced diet (raw food diets are not recommended).

Is it more expensive to care for a FIV+ cat?
If your cat is kept indoors and healthy, it’s not likely that they will require more veterinary care than a non-infected cat. They will need bi-annual wellness exams, up-to-date vaccinations, and protection against common parasites like fleas and worms, which is not unlike other pets.

Simon, an 8-year-old tabby kitty, has big green eyes and a love of lounging. Learn more!
Simon, an 8-year-old tabby kitty, has big green eyes and a love of lounging. Meet Simon today!

How can FIV be prevented?
The best mode of protection against FIV is keeping your cat indoor only and having them spayed or neutered.

There is a vaccine for FIV, but its efficacy is somewhat controversial. The vaccine will also cause a cat to test positive for FIV because of the antibodies present. Preventing exposure is still the best way to protect your cat from the virus, but you should discuss the pros and cons of the vaccine with your veterinarian.

This 5-year-old lover boy is Shamrock and he can't wait to purr his way into your heart! Learn more about Shamrock.
He’s a 5-year-old lover boy named Shamrock and he can’t wait to purr his way into your heart! Learn more about him.

At Seattle Humane, we know FIV+ kitties are just as sociable and capable of love as any other cat. We encourage you to adopt a FIV+ cat – or better yet, a pair of feline friends! Eddie, Nicholas, Gretchen and Shamrock are just a few of the cats available for adoption. Meet them in person at our shelter in Bellevue – we’re open every day at 11 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. Sun.-Wed. and 8 p.m. Thu.-Sat.

Still have questions? Our Adoption Advisors would love to chat with you about caring for a FIV+ kitty. Come see us!


4 thoughts on “FIV – Fact & Fiction

    1. Hi Ryan. Unfortunately, there is no simple diagnostic test for FIPV. Your kitten was tested for FeLV and possible FIV in our care, but we wouldn’t be able to test for FIPV.

  1. Do you have any FIV positive cats available for adoption? I can’t find any on your site. The reason I’m asking is because I recently adopted a stray male cat, that tested FIV positive. He’s two years old and an absolute love. He has a forever home with my husband and I, and he’s strictly an indoor cat.

    I retire this year and my husband and I originally planned to adopt two cats. A lap kitty for each of us. My Louie only adores me and puts up with my husband, who considered himself the cat whisperer. 🙂 So we thought if we adopted another FIV+ cat, it would be the safest way to go.

    Since there aren’t any FIV+ cats on this site that I can find, will we need to visit your office to see any FIV+ kitties (once you reopen, of course).

    We’d like a female, around Louie’s age, which the vet thought was about two years. No preference on color or breed. We just thought we’d be safer with a female. Louie is of course neutered, but I thought he might get along better with a sister.

    Thank you for any information you can provide about where I might adopt a FIV+ kitty.
    Kind regards,

    1. That’s wonderful! Please reach out to our adoption team at to inquire about FIV+ matches. I should also tell you that veterinary knowledge has come a long way, and we now encourage FIV+ and negative cats to live together. FIV is transmitted through deep bite wounds, so with the right fit and proper introduction, it’s unlikely that physical conflict would escalate. We would defer to your comfort level, of course, but it’s certainly something to consider if you can’t find another FIV+ kitty to love. Thank you for giving your sweetie a loving home.

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