The Quick Facts About
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Positive Cats
The Quick Facts About
Feline Leukemia Virus (FeLV) 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.
FeLV is a retrovirus that affects the cat’s health ability to fight off infection. FeLV is a cat-only disease. It cannot be spread to humans or other non-felines. FeLV
is not airborne; it is transmitted through close
continuous contact among cats.
Usually prolonged contact or a serious, penetrating bite is necessary for transmission. The virus can be spread through mutual grooming, nose-to-nose contact, and shared food and water bowls.
FeLV can also be found in lesser amounts in tears, urine, and feces thus litter boxes could be a source of infection in multi-cat households. For this reason, it is recommended to not have FeLV+ and FeLV- cats comingle.
A mother can infect her kittens while they are in the womb or through nursing the kittens.
Because FeLV affects a cat’s immune system, it is more difficult for an FeLV+ cat to fight off disease. For that reason, an FeLV+ 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.
The Feline Leukemia Virus can remain latent in a cat’s system for years. A low stress environment, a healthy diet, immune boosting vitamins and a life indoors are essential for a FeLV+ cat.