Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Help us bust through the (unfounded) fears about FIV!

Before we hear more of Grey's story, I should share with you that sleek, handsome, healthy Grey is FIV positive.

FIV. Scary, huh?

Well, actually, it is really not a cause for panic. Not even for serious alarm. Surprised? So was I, but my vet filled me in on some things I didn't know about FIV!

FIV is a terribly misunderstood disease and few pet owners are well educated about it. Sadly, many vets are not well educated, either! There are many misconceptions and unwarranted fears about FIV. It is NOT a deadly disease, like FeLV. Most FIV positive cats, living indoors, grow old and die of illnesses common to elderly cats, rather than complications of FIV.

I know our readers are more cat-health savvy than most people, but I learned a few things from my vet, and from some follow up reading, and I figured it can't hurt to pass it along! Here are some facts:

  • A positive FIV (Feline Immuno-deficiency Virus) test result does NOT always mean a cat actually has FIV. There are MANY "false" positives because of vaccinations. A cat who was inoculated against FIV will test positive because it has developed antibodies against the disease. Unfortunately, it is currently impossible to tell whether a positive test is the result of the disease or the result of an inoculation against it.

  • FIV is NOT easily passed between cats. It can NOT be spread casually - like in litter boxes, water and food bowls, when snuggling and playing or even through mutual grooming. It is rarely spread from a mother to her kittens.

  • FIV is a cat-only disease and can NOT be spread to humans or other non-felines.

  • FIV is a SLOW virus that affects a cat's immune system over a period of years. FIV cats most often live long, healthy, and relatively normal lives with NO symptoms at all.

  • The virus CAN be spread through blood transfusions, badly infected gums, or serious, penetrating bite wounds. (Bite wounds of this kind are the primary means of transmission. Bite wounds of this kind are also extremely rare, except in free-roaming, unneutered tomcats.) Further, not all bite wounds from an FIV positive cat will result in the disease.

  • An FIV positive neutered cat, in a home, is extremely unlikely to infect other cats, if properly introduced.

  • A surprising number of vets are NOT educated about FIV. The virus was only discovered in the late '80s and some vets have not kept up with the clinical experience gathered since then.

  • FIV-positive cats fare very well when kept as healthy as possible. Keep them indoors and as free from stress as possible, feed them a high-quality diet, and treat any illnesses as soon as they arise. (Hmmmm... isn't most of this what we already do for our beloved kittehs??!)

When Space Paws heard about Grey's diagnosis we thought that taking Grey would be a great chance, not only to find a good home for a terrific young cat, but to help spread the facts and BUST the rumors and fears about FIV! Won't you join us and let other people know that FIV is not something pet owners need to deeply fear.

Grey will be joining my household on Saturday and I plan to gradually introduce him to the General Population just as I would any other foster. If any of our readers love an FIV positive cat, won't you share yours stories as we work to find Grey a home?
Tune in tomorrow to learn more about Grey's story!


  1. Here's a good story: http://news.bestfriends.org/index.cfm?page=news&mode=entry&entry=F112D0E9-F9DF-73C0-34462337EA7E11DC

  2. Lisa, thank you for opening your home to a special needs kitty! You're truly an angel for all these little critters :-)

    Sue's link to the story about the little kitty who got adopted after 19 years was amazing! As cute and adorable as kittens are, there's just something about the older/adult kitties waiting for homes that breaks my heart...and I can certainly vouch for the joys of adopting older kitties, even ones like ours with expired warranties and lots of defective parts ;-)

  3. Thanks for spreading the word, Lisa. I remember volunteering at my local SPCA shelter when a new cat came in. He was the biggest, strongest cat I have ever seen. He was a mass of solid muscle, and it took 2 of us to grab him for his blood test, which told us that he was FIV+.

    He was so beautiful and obviously healthy and strong, but he ended up going to a sanctuary for FIV+ cats. I'm not sure if that was because nobody wanted to adopt him, or if the shelter folks were concerned that he could pass it on to other shelter cats, in which case they were acting in what they believed was the best interest of all concerned.

    As far as I know, he lived out his natural life safe and happy at the sanctuary, but still - I don't think it was necessary.

    That was a number of years ago, and I am glad that we know so much more now. FIV cannot pass to humans, and it is very difficult for a positive (neutered) cat to pass it on to a negative one. I do know that some folks seek out and adopt FIV+ cats only, so maybe that would be an option for this gorgeous gentleman too. Hugs!

  4. I've just posted about this .



    Aunty Pol aka Andy's Momma

  5. Well, I don't have any experience myself with an FIV postive cat (that I am aware of at least) one of the other blogs I follow, Cory Cat Blog, they had a cat (Jonathan) that was FIV postive and had lived with them for 7 years before they even knew - and never passed it on and lived to be over 20 years old. They don't have much more than a blurb about him (he passed away before the blog started) but it seems to show that at least their vet knew a lot about it (it says the vet said he would outlive everyone). If you would like to see their blog it is at http://corycattalks.blogspot.com/ - if you scroll down you will see Jonathan on the left.

    As for Mr Grey, he is such a cutie! I hope there is someone out there who will take him in - but at least he will have you guys to take care of him in the mean time!

  6. Thank you for educating us on FIV. Mom didn't really know much about it, until now. We do have LOTS of ferals that live in the mountain and wonder if any of them have it (we wouldn't be surprised). Mr. Grey is adorable and we're keeping our paws crossed that he will eventuall find a place to call his furrever home!

  7. It's such a shame that cats with FIV are usually treated as though they have the plague or something even worse... Thank you for setting the record straight!
    I'm very much looking forward to getting to know Grey better — he looks like a big cuddly teddy bear!

  8. LOL,,ok ...now I can post a comment under my aka...go fig.


    Aunty Pol

  9. He's beautiful. We have a few cats at the farm who have FIV and there has never been any indication of transmittal to other kitties. One particular kitty is Tigger (the one my daughter especially adore on my blog, Monica'sWorld) and he has been healthy for years and years.

  10. Monica..I'm curious..Is Tigger a marmy ?

  11. Thank you for posting this! When my SO and I took in a Baltimore street kitten 7 years ago we were told by a local vet that he had FIV and "you should just put him down because he'll get sick one day." I couldn't believe how casual he was about it, or the ignorance he was showing (once I hit the internet I found a lot more accurate info on FIV). Luckily another vet at the same practice told us that small kittens of FIV+ moms often test positive, and to retest him at 4 months. As my SO says, his best birthday ever was because that's the day we found out Pig was FIV negative (but we would have kept him anyway!). To think, I could have missed out on this: http://www.flickr.com/photos/25448288@N00/3424141229/

  12. I wonder because both of our boys with FIV were Marmy's and the theory is that this breed is more likely.

    Sorry..I hit enter before too soon

  13. oh wow, i didn't know this. i had a felv cat as a teen and we found out when she got sick. it broke my heart, she was awesome and died WAY too soon. :( and never encountering fiv, i have always just lumped the two together. thanks for opening my eyes. :)

  14. Hi there - I'm Grey's 'dad' until Saturday, when he goes to his great new digs at Space Paws.

    Grey has been our 'porch cat' for a little over a year. We are thrilled that he has found an indoor home with Space Paws and we're certain that some lucky people will provide a permanent home for him. He was clearly a house cat before he found us - he was neutered and very people-oriented. He's always been healthy after we got him regularly fed and loved.

    An important note - although we can't be sure, we strongly suspect that the FIV+ is because he was vaccinated, not because he has the disease itself. Given that he was cared for when he was young, we think it likely he had his shots as well.

    Thank you Space Paws for taking our beautiful boy! We wish we could do better by him here, but he really wants to be an indoor kitty, and we already have two cats and one allergic dad (me). We'll continue to support him and the great work that Space Paws does, and we know that someday he's going to make a new family very happy!

  15. Aunty Pol,
    I feel so bad being a cat person and not knowing what a marmy is so I am going to google it right now ......

    I let you know :)


  16. Monica, I don't know if you'll read this or not, but "marmy" or "marmie" is short for "marmalade"--an orange tabby of any breed, basically. (The term originated over at Cute Overload, because one of the staff, Theo, is a huge fan of orange kitties.)

  17. Thanks waterdragon687 for the reply on the marmy question. Tigger is not a marmy. But we also had a "marmy" with FIV and unfortunately he passed away several months ago. If you ever go to Monica'sWorld he is pictured. His name was Scotchie.




Blog Widget by LinkWithin