What should I know before adopting an FIV positive cat?
Original Question: I'm considering adopting two male cats currently at the humane society. They are from the same litter and both are FIV positive. I also have a 12-year-old Chihuahua/Miniature Pinscher at home. What, if any, health risks do the cat’s pose to humans or our dog? Are these cats more susceptible to get ill or develop certain illnesses, as they get older? What else should I be aware of/ concerned about before adopting FIV positive cats? - Andrea
Thanks for your questions.
Can dogs get FIV from cats? Can humans?
There is no risk of Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) transferring to yourself or your dog. You can feel completely secure there.
Are FIV positive cats more susceptible to get ill or develop certain illnesses, as they get older?
Yes. FIV is a viral infection that causes a reduction in the immune cells and the body’s ability to fight infection. This means that there is a greater likelihood of your cat developing general infections and having difficulty resolving them. Areas of the body, such as the mouth, which harbours bacteria already can become inflamed and compromised because your cat’s body can’t keep the bacteria to a harmless number. Furthermore, there have been concerns that the presence of FIV in a cat can predispose that cat to cancers that can develop later in life.
What else should I be aware of/concerned about before adopting FIV positive cats?
You’ll want to implement some preventive measures when caring for an FIV positive cat. Some considerations are:
- Schedule regular visits to your veterinarian more often than annually to monitor for disease or infections. This way you can find them and implement treatment before they reach a level that is difficult to control as the immune system will be less able to keep them at bay.
- Keep your cats indoors to protect other outdoor cats from contracting the virus from them.
- Avoid visits with other cats to prevent them from being exposed.
- Avoid raw food since it has a higher level of bacteria and can more easily cause an infection.
- Discuss the value of giving an FIV positive cat a vaccination of any kind with your veterinarian. Vaccinations temporarily challenge and stress the immune system and if it is already compromised by the viral infection, your cat could be severely limited in the ability to fight any infectious disease and simple ones may spiral out of control.
- Parasite control would be important to implement to eliminate the chance of a common parasitic infection becoming serious.
- Discuss with your veterinarian possible supplemental and preventive treatments that could reduce the chance of infection and improve immune health.
I hope this helps.
Dr. Clayton Greenway
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