HomeCat HealthFIVCan FIV Positive Cats Live With Other Cats?

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Can FIV Positive Cats Live With Other Cats? — 21 Comments

  1. I foster for a rescue group. They do not accept FIV+ cats. I had an incoming cat that tested FIV+ and I took him to another rescue, that places FIV+ cats. Due to a hurricane, and the cat doing very poorly from his neuter, I decided to take him from his temp foster and bring him to safety. He was in incredible pain (swollen testicles, fever, no urine) and after two weeks of intensive care, I got him back to health. He’s really ‘grown’ on me (and to think, me, an experience foster of over 100 cats) and I would like to keep him. I have two resident FIV- cats.
    The newly neutered FIV+ guy is very gentle and docile. My resident FIV- female is the one with the propensity to bite, she was biting me, not another cat, which I’ve broken her of this habit. She and her brother cat play hard, scream, but I never see an injury. My question is: Can a FIV- cat who bites the FIV+ cat contract FIV?

    • Hi RL. I have thought about this. The test for FIV is to check for antibodies in the blood. If there are FIV antibodies in the serum (ELISA test) ‘it can be assumed that the cat is persistently viremic…” Vermic means the virus is in the bloodstream (it is also in the saliva as mentioned). As it is in the bloodstream, if your FIV- cat bites your FIV+ cat is seems to me that your FIV- cat might ingest a very small amount of blood from your FIV+ cat. In that blood there might be the virus which them passes into the receiving cat’s bloodstream. The only issue is whether the virus in the blood can pass from the mouth of the receiving cat and thence to the blood via the stomach wall without being killed. I’d have thought, Yes.

      I have not to found a clear answer in my books or on the internet except that it is transmitted in fights. However, I am pretty clear that there is a risk if you put these cats together. So I would not do it if I was you. But that is just me. Obviously a call to your vet would help but I guess you have already done this.

  2. One thing I forgot to mention regarding a better grade cat food, wet and dry, is the difference in their litter box habits. While on supermarket food, their stink was atrocious! Since they’ve been switched to better food, their stool has that firmness vets love to see, their elimination is more regular and the stink isn’t so bad. They also don’t need to use the box as often as they did before. Huh. Who’d have thought?

  3. My beautiful Princess has just been diagnosed with FIV.
    I was crushed.
    But, FIV isn’t necessarily a death sentence.

    She is almost 5 years old and has suffered from URI’s on and off for her whole life.

    The new vet that I had just kept popping antibiotics that only took the edge off of her distress.
    No one thought to test her.

    Out of desperation, and because she had stopped eating, had become skin/bone, and I could see the glands on the side of her neck and under her chin enlarged, I asked our TNR vet to look at her. Dr. Fleck is a feline only vet and pretty much knew that she had to be FIV positive.

    She was tested and, ofcourse, positive.

    How this relates to this article is that Princess has lived in harmony with my house full of cats for almost 5 years. So, isolating her would be moot at this point.

    According to my beloved Dr. Fleck, FIV really isn’t very easily transmitted unless there is a lot of aggression going on. Trust me, not allowed here.

    At this point, Princess is in remission having been treated with Convenia and an appetite inducer. She’s picking up weight, strength, and her coat has a promising gloss again.

    • Dee, I imagine Dr. Fleck has also checked Princess’ teeth for gum disease. My understanding is that it is common with FIV+ cats.

      My vet also encouraged a higher-grade wet cat food (and dry if given) for our house, not just for Shadow but for Abby as well. He said that, although cats have lived on supermarket grade wet food for years, his opinion is that it’s the “McDonald’s” of cat food. Sure, they love it but that didn’t mean it was particularly good for them long term).

      Since switching to a higher-grade food, both of my cats have beautiful coats, appropriate weight and both have wonderful energy (sometimes to my chagrin, LOL).

      Wishing you and Princess the very best. The only advice I would give is just to watch her should she get the sniffles; it’s not the same as a negative cat; the immune system is compromised. All things being equal, there is no reason that your fur baby shouldn’t continue to thrive in your loving home.

      • Gail, please tell me your selection of high grade wet cat food in the USA. I agree that high grade wet is very important.

        • Because Shadow only has his canines, he cannot easily eat pate wet food, so I usually go for morsels. That being said, higher-grade wet food examples in the USA would be brands such as Natural Balance and Merrick. Another very good one is from Fromm; it’s made in the USA without the chemicals frequently found in lesser grade foods.

          In our house, I buy the packets of Indoor formula of Natural Balance. In the Merrick brand, I buy either morsels or shredded and with Fromm, I buy dry food as they’re very small, round pieces and Shadow can eat them (I also wet the dry so it’s a little softer). Also for dry food, I buy Natural Balance’s Fat Cat. The nuggets are slightly larger than Fromm’s but that particular brand has the lowest caloric value found in today’s market (that I’ve found anyway).

          Per vet advice, he admonished that it’s OK to put down dry food; however, stop topping it off. When my brood were on a diet, the vet suggested 1/2 can of 6-oz food each (or split the large can in half for the two of them) and only a few nuggets of dry in a separate dish for the crunch factor. It’s the carbs in the dry food that packs on the weight. He also suggested to close ears to the cats’ crying for more food if they’ve been properly fed according to instruction. He said when they start, distract them with play. It sure has worked! Each have lost about 5-lbs each over a 6-month period, which was significant for them. Now they’ve got their energy back!

            • In the shelter, the measurement we use in the feeding regimen is roughly 3-oz (wet) per feeding, twice daily per cat. In a separate dish (dry) is 1/4-cup per feeding, twice daily. We don’t mix wet and dry in the same dish because sometimes cats don’t like it and either won’t eat it all or only eat some and it’s a waste of food.

              The leftover wet needs to be tossed after about 30-minutes to avoid bacteria (think of potato salad left on a buffet for over 30 minutes without refrigeration…yuck!). The dry food can be left even if the cat doesn’t finish it during that feeding as it won’t go rancid. Should the cat not finish the dry for the next feeding, we only add the equivalent to make up that same 1/4 cup – we don’t add another 1/4 cup on top of the initial leftover. Because of the sedentary environment of the shelter cats, the volunteers take turns with the cats in a cage-free setting we’ve got set up and play with them, with string toys, laser pointers, playing chase – anything to get them to move and be enriched.

              At home, to keep the bantam weight of my two, I use the same measurement for wet, but for dry I measure the same 1/4 cup, but I split it between them (each having 1/8 cup). Sure, they fuss but once I start playing with their toys (tossing balls, squeaky mice toys, playing hide & seek), they soon forget about the food.

      • Thanks Gail.
        Yes, her teeth were checked and are OK. As a matter of fact, when I first saw her swollen glands and the distress she had trying to eat, I thought the problem was her teeth.
        Dr. Fleck said that her pain was from those glands and any mouth motion made it worse for her.
        Food is a real issue still. Dr. Fleck gave me cans of a/d which I watered down and syringed. She hated it. So, right now, I’m mixing it with KMR and her very loved Friskies turkey pate and she’s lapping it up. I’ll do something different when I feel certain that she’s going to stay stable for a while.

        • Dee, I wish you the very best for Princess. I feel your pain. Prior to getting Shadow’s gum disease under control, I had to literally wrestle him (no easy feat!) in order to syringe his Clavamox in his mouth. His mouth was so bad, even petting him anywhere near it was impossible. After a couple weeks of physically restraining him, his mouth got to a point that I could put the Clavamox liquid in his wet food and we’ve done that ever since.

          It’s not easy seeing your baby in pain of any kind, so I admire your fortitude. FYI – If Princess doesn’t need to lose weight, Natural Balance has “Original Ultra Whole Body Health” which is chicken, salmon & duck. It’s like a pate, but it’s very loose – the 1st ingredient is chicken broth. It slips right out of the can without much effort. It can be purchased at PetCo. Perhaps that may also help in your quest to feed your baby if you want a change. Whatever you do, it is with love and I’m sure Princess is a fighter.

    • Thanks for this Dee. The reference to aggression is the important point I feel. Avoid that and the chance of transmission is reduced to almost zero.

  4. As Michael mentioned and IMHO, sometimes our vets need a tutorial within their own profession. When my own vet expressed concern, I simply suggested he read the latest material regarding cohabitation of FIV- and FIV+ cats. Testing Abby annually, sometimes I think I’m doing it more for the vet than for myself and Abby. Although still in reserve, at least our vet is now comfortable with the situation and admires how they get along (both are brought in together for checkups). Sometimes all it takes is a little nudge and a lot of patience.

    • I hate to say it but sometimes I have similar “problems” with my vets. I had an out-and-out row once ๐Ÿ˜‰

  5. I’ve had an FIV+ and FIV- cat living together now for a few years. The negative cat was adopted from our shelter and the positive was rescued from a neglectful owner in my neighborhood. Although my vet was dismayed at the two together, I always test Abby every year during her annual and she always comes up negative. I also do not allow any roughhouse either, other than normal play, to mitigate any chance of exposure. Cat management is important – they eat from separate dishes, have their own water bowls and although they share the same litter box, it is kept immaculately clean (scooped poo continually), washing the box itself once weekly. The only downside, in our case, is poor Shadow’s teeth were removed except his canines and has gum disease that never quite heals, so he’s on Clavamox 3 weeks on, two weeks off to keep it under control; due to being positive.

    Our shelter monitors FIV+ cats and will usually keep FIV+ cats together for easy care, but when cages are in demand, will put FIV+ and FIV- together providing they get along with each other. Keep in mind, shelter atmosphere is different than a home; it’s a stressful environment so we are very careful. We also educate adopters by giving them written info within their medical files that go with every cat adopted, positive or not, as well as declaw material.

    Personally, I don’t feel that it’s necessary to freak out having FIV+ and FIV- cats live together; education is important. It’s no different than our ignorance in decades past regarding people being HIV+; now we know better.

    • Thanks Gail for a fantastic comment which substantially adds to the article. Great, I love it. I agree with your last para. A more sensible and sensitive approach is sometimes required. Times have moved on. We know more. Vets too should keep abreast. I think some are giving less than accurate advice.

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