The Quick Facts About
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Positive Cats
FIV is a slow virus that affects the immune system
over a period of years.
FIV is a cat-only disease. It cannot be spread to
humans or other non-felines.
FIV is spread through serious, penetrating bite
wounds. The type of bite wound that is seen most
often in feral, intact tomcats. The virus can also
be spread through blood transfusions and on
occasion a mother may infect her kittens while
they’re in the womb or through her milk after they
FIV can’t be spread casually between cats, such as
in water or food bowls, or in litter boxes.
Cuddling, playing and other forms of casual
physical contact do not spread the virus.
The FIV virus was discovered in 1986. Before then,
FIV positive cats and non-FIV cats lived together
peacefully all the time.
FIV itself does not shorten a cat’s life-span.
Because FIV affects a cat’s immune system it is
more difficult for an FIV+ cat to fight off
disease. For that reason an FIV+ cat
requires a diligent owner—someone who will take
her to the vet twice a year for check ups and,
immediately, at the first sign of illness.
FIV+ cats are no different from other cats, often
living long, healthy lives, never showing any
symptoms at all.