I have a FIV/ AIDS positive cat my vet wants me to put down


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Our question this week was:

Dr. Debra - my 5 yr old cat's aids test came out positive, the other 2, tested negative. He has no symptoms at all. He eats well goes to the bathroom regularly and is very playful. They advice me to put him down so as not to endanger the others. I have him in a separate room. Can sharing food & water be dangerous to the others? Any suggestions or advice?

Alina Tabibi


Hi – thanks for your email. I'm sorry to hear about your situation. You wrote that you have 3 cats – one is FIV (aids) positive and the other two are negative. Your question is – should you put your cat down or what can you do? And what is the risk to your other cats?

As you may know, FIV is a retrovirus similar to the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV also known as AIDS). FIV is not contagious to people; it is an infectious disease spread from cat to cat, primarily by biting and scratch wounds. FIV has been found in the mother's milk and can be transmitted from mother to kitten. Experimentally, FIV can also be transmitted through semen however this is not thought to be a significant method of transmission in nature. Transmission among household cats through normal contact is thought to be unlikely. Outdoor and male cats are predisposed.

Most believe that the FIV virus is readily killed by most disinfectants and don't survive long outside of the cat. Different veterinary practices do slightly different procedures for disinfection. Most use a disinfectant (one commonly used is called Roccal) and all cages, bowls, crates, pads, etc are sprayed down, allowed do soak, rinsed and dried.

Some veterinary practices autoclave instruments and other allow them to soak in disinfecting solutions and even ultrasonic cleaners between procedures, which are very effective.

If you are disinfecting at home, you may use a dilute solution of household bleach (four ounces of bleach in 1 gallon of water). Test before using on carpet or fabrics. It is very good for most items.

So...to answer your question – FIV is contagious. It is possible that it could be transmitted to your other cats, however, transmission in this manner is thought to be unlikely. This is a difficult situation. You can put them together – understanding the risks, keep them separate, or find someone with another FIV positive cat that may want a companion. If he feels good, it is hard to want to put him down.

An article that might be helpful to you is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV).

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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About The Author

debra-primovic Dr. Debra Primovic

Debra A. Primovic, BSN, DVM, Editor-in-Chief, is a graduate of the Ohio State University School of Nursing and the OSU College of Veterinary Medicine. Following her veterinary medical training, Dr. Primovic practiced in general small animal practices as well as veterinary emergency practices. She was staff veterinarian at the Animal Emergency Clinic of St. Louis, Missouri, one of the busiest emergency/critical care practices in the United States as well as MedVet Columbus, winner of the AAHA Hospital of the year in 2014. She also spends time in general practice at the Granville Veterinary Clinic. Dr. Primovic divides her time among veterinary emergency and general practice, editing, writing, and updating articles for PetPlace.com, and editing and indexing for veterinary publications. She loves both dogs and cats but has had extraordinary cats in her life, all of which have died over the past couple years. Special cats in her life were Kali, Sammy, Pepper and Beanie.