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

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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