Cats with HIV (feline AIDS) don’t need to be separated

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Our question this week was:

Regarding the article "What You Should Know About Feline AIDS", I was VERY disappointed to read the portion of the article:

"FIV-infected cats should be isolated from cats that do not carry the virus. They should be quarantined to a separate area in a household away from other cats and should have no contact with FIV-negative cats. All bedding, food and water dishes, litter pans and toys should be disinfected. They should not be shared among cats that are infected and cats that are not."

As a vet, I'm sure you must know that FIV is passed ONLY through DEEP bite wounds and birth. Only aggressive FIV+ cats need to be kept isolated from non-FIV cats. I am very disappointed that you and your site are perpetuating the fear that people have about FIV+ cats. I feel it is comments and bad advice such as this that are keeping FIV cats from finding good homes. I have two FIV+ cats that live with four non-FIV cats. They are the most laid back, non-aggressive cats you'll ever want to meet and I can't imagine my home without them.

It is fortunate for them, indeed, that I chose to educate myself on this issue and know that FIV+ and non-FIV cats can live together without problems.

I would really like to see you address this issue. There are so many mild mannered FIV+ cats out there in need of homes – I really hate to see articles such as this one holding them back.

Sincerely,

Lisa Walston

Answer

Hi Lisa – thanks for your email. You do bring up a good point. We do mention in the article that "transmission among household cats through normal contact is thought to be unlikely." However, it is possible.

You are absolutely right that FIV and non -FIV cats can live together without problems. I'll work with the original author to make sure this is clear in the text. However, I have seen a indoor only previously negative cat become infected with FIV from a positive cat in the household. The second cat became ill and died of FIV before the other cat. The owner was devastated. This is uncommon but it can happen. I think if an owner is doing to keep them together, they need to understand the possible risks.

Another article that might be helpful to you is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. This article is more medical in nature than the one you referred to.

Best of luck!

Dr. Debra

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