Can FIV Positive and FIV Negative Cats Live Together?
Can FIV+ and FIV- cats live together? There is a little bit of a clash in the opinion of experts on this one but in general the consensus nowadays is that FIV+ and FIV- cats can live together just fine unless the FIV+ cat is aggressive and likely to bite other cats as cat bites during tom cat fights are a source of transmission of the disease. The virus is shed in the saliva.
For this reason some veterinarians might advise that in multi-cat households FIV positive cats should be isolated from contact with other cats which means a difficult life for the cat. This advice clashes with that of Jackson Galaxy but Jackson’s advice is conditional on the FIV+ cat being non-aggressive and not likely to fight others. There is a vaccine for FIV but it appears not to be recommended.
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Kittens or cats added to a home where there are cats should be tested for FIV and FeLV. Feline FIV is related to human HIV but both are species specific. There is no effective treatment for a FIV virus infection. FIV+ cats struggle to find a home because of misconceptions.
FIV+ cats can have many years of normal, healthy life. Four to six weeks after exposure to the disease the cat has an acute illness of fever and lymph node swelling, diarrhoea, anaemia and skin infections. But then there is a latent period of several months to twelve years during which the cat appears healthy and before developing full-blown FIV. Therefore they can make great companions.
Celia Hammond in the UK explains on her website that there’s been mass euthanasia of FIV+ cats due to misunderstandings. Many of her charity’s foster homes have a mix of FIV+ and FIV- cats and she says, “Our sanctuary in the country currently has forty-three long-term FIV positive cats living amongst the other feline residents….”
So, YES, is the answer to the question: Can FIV+ and FIV- cats live together?
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Yes, that what I’ve heard. I knew a woman who ran a rescue/adoption who had FIV+ and – together. She never had a problem as long as there was no biting going on. Knowing to keep cats calm and happy is the trick.
Thank you for mentioning Celia Hammond’s mixed status, sanctuary colony. Since established in the early 90s, there has not been one case of FIV transmission. Not one.
Not every cat who carries FIV will go on to develop FAIDS. With good, attentive & responsive care, most will have a normal longevity. One cat, Hendrix, who is mentioned on the Cat Chat forum, lived to be 28. Old age carried him off, not collapse of the immune system. He started out as a homeless, beaten up tom cat.
Catwork Sanctuary in Somerset, have done amazing work caring for, saving & advocating for these cats since the mid 90s. The ignorance & malice towards FIV+ cats that they have encountered from some cat rescues, large and small is confounding & utterly shocking.
Most cared for FIV+ cats will die from causes other than those involving an immune response.
Sadly, too many rescues & vets still kill these poor cats, either through ignorance or just sheer bloody mindedness. Rescues often kill them, citing ‘lack of space’ as their reason.
FIV+ cats deserve better.
Thanks for commenting Jane. I hope you are well.