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What is Feline Immunodeficiency Virus?

Feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) is a lentivirus (or “slow virus”). What this means is that typically it progresses very slowly, gradually affecting a cat’s immune system.

Despite what many people think, cats with this condition can live perfectly long, happy, healthy lives.FIV Facts

  1. FIV is a cat-only disease and cannot be spread to humans or other non-felines.
  2. FIV cats can live long, healthy, and relatively normal lives with no symptoms at all.
  3. FIV is not easily passed between cats. It cannot be spread through casual contact – like in litter boxes, water and food bowls, or when snuggling and playing.
  4. The virus is found in blood, saliva and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of infected cats. Most often it is spread through serious, penetrating bite wounds. It is a fragile virus, so it does not survive in the environment, only inside of the cat.
  5. FIV-positive cats should be kept as healthy as possible. Keep them indoors and free from stress, feed them a high-quality diet, treat any secondary problems as soon as they arise. Regular visits to your veterinarian are important.

For more information please see the following online resources

Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine Feline Health Center:

AAFP Information on FIV for Cat Owners: