What is FIV?

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) affects around 2.5-5% of cats in the US. FIV attacks the immune system and leaves cats with immune deficiency making them more susceptible to illness caused by bacteria, fungus, and viruses.

While most cats appear completely normal, some infected cats may show poor hair coat, chronic gum and mouth infections, progressive weight loss, chronic fever, and others.

How is FIV transmitted?

FIV is transmitted through the blood or saliva via cat bites, so outdoor cats and unneutered males are at higher risk.

The virus itself does not live long outside the body, so close contact with infected cats is necessary for transmission. Bite wounds are the most common route of transmission.

Shared water bowls and mutual grooming between cats is not an efficient means of transmission and thus does not put a cat at risk of contracting FIV.

Is there a cure for FIV?

There is no cure or vaccine for FIV, so prevention is the best practice. 

If your cat tests positive for FIV, know that they still have a good quality of life and can live just as long as a cat without FIV. When managed properly, cats with FIV can live long, normal lives.

Proper management of FIV includes maintaining regular vet visits to monitor your cat’s health, and limiting their exposure to illness or infection by keeping them indoors.

How can I protect my cat from FIV?

Keeping cats indoors away from potentially infected cats greatly reduces their risk of exposure.

You can adopt a cat with FIV even if your cat does not have it. Introduce both cats slowly and supervise for the first few weeks to make sure they are not fighting. Sharing water, food bowls, or litter boxes with a cat with FIV will not infect a cat without it.

Read more about introducing cats to each other here.


Written by Olivia Hawk

Learn about FIV in cats from VCA Hospitals by clicking below.

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Learn about FELV in cats by clicking below.

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