Feline Immunodeficiency Virus
Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) is a viral disease affecting 1.5-3% of cats in the US. It is slow-acting, but can eventually compromise a cat’s immune system. With regular health check-ups, a balanced, healthy diet and safe home environment, FIV+ cats can live long, happy lives. They may experience flare-up from time-to-time as they fight infections, which may increase as they age.
FIV is primarily spread through bite wounds, or from mother to offspring at birth. FIV is not feline leukemia (FeLV). Due to it spreading via bite wounds, free-roaming outdoor cats are more likely to contract it than house cats are. Therefore, it is fairly unlikely to spread in homes with house cats that are social and friendly to each other. Because of this, in most cases, FIV+ cats and non-affected cats can live happily and safely together. Multiple FIV+ cats can certainly live together provided they get along like any cats should.
If someone is considering adding an FIV+ cat to an unaffected household, or vice versa, they should first speak with a veterinarian or animal care professional about how to carefully and slowly introduce the new cat to the home environment, to make sure all cats are friendly and willing to cohabitate.