How to care for a cat with FIV
February 2, 2017 11:48 AM   Subscribe

Spotless the cat (previous question) has taken up permanent residence in the front yard. We built her nice apartment and took her to the vet...

We built Spotless a nice shelter out of foam insulation sheets and it's really great at keeping the cold out. She also has space inside for her food dish and water. It's fashioned with a blanket and she really seems to like it and sleeps in it nightly. All was well until we took her to the vet to get a spay / rabies / vaccine package.

Turns out, she's not a kitten! She's estimated to be between 5 and 10 years old. She put on weight since she started staying with us, so I guess she just seemed kitten-like before because she was hungry and battered and underweight? We opted to have her tested for FIV and the test came back positive. I don't have much experience with cats so I'm not sure where to go from here. I have an inside cat already and he is negative for FIV. Ideally, Spotless could just stay with us in her front yard apartment, but is that ethical in terms of her being potentially able to spread FIV (for what it's worth, she still leaves for a few hours a day to do her cat business, but there are no other cats interacting with her in our yard)? She is not showing signs of illness, pain, or suffering and is quite content and playful so I really don't want to surrender her to a shelter if she's going to be put down because of her FIV status. Is it fair o Spotless to continue the status quo? I would take her in to be evaluated and put down if necessary if I notice her health decline. Thank you cat pics sorry for potato camera.
posted by WeekendJen to Pets & Animals (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I know the no-kill shelters around here definitely adopt out FIV+ cats. Maybe you can call/Google around and see if there's one by you that will take her in. I know of people that have a FIV+ and a FIV- cat living together, but I'm not an expert on that or even know if it's advisable.

In the meantime, I think you have done a lot of good -- that little home looks quite cozy, and her putting on weight is a good sign that she is happy and doing well where she's at.
posted by Fig at 12:36 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Evidence has shown that it's surprisingly rare for FIV cats to infect non-FIV cats. Many people find that they have been living in a mixed-FIV household for years with no issue. I wouldn't worry too much about the ethical implications of her interacting with other cats, and if she seems content in her little home, I would let her do her thing. Most people will not adopt an FIV cat, so I would wager she'd have a better life in your yard, all things considered. Thinking good thoughts for her!
posted by thegreatfleecircus at 1:36 PM on February 2, 2017 [4 favorites]

My sweet FIV+ cat has reached the age of eighteen without obvious problems from the FIV. In spite of the similarity in name, it is a much less serious disease in cats than HIV is in humans. She never gave it to our other cat over the course of five years living together. We have never needed to do anything special for her FIV.

I believe that FIV transmission requires bites that break the skin. We know which neighborhood cat gave it to her when he was beating her up, years ago. She required medical care for the infected abscess that resulted from that fight.
posted by artistic verisimilitude at 2:12 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Removing Spotless from your neighborhood would not eliminate FIV in your neighborhood. FIV is thought to spread when cats fight, which they do more frequently when they aren't altered. FIV impacts the health of cats that are not in otherwise good health. I wouldn't hesitate to let her mingle with your inside cat as long as they don't fight.
posted by txtwinkletoes at 3:49 PM on February 2, 2017

Many people find that they have been living in a mixed-FIV household for years with no issue.

I'm one of these people. My cat and myself lived in a home with my roommate and his two cats - one of which, we learned a year or so later, was FIV+. This cat often 'play-fought' with the other two cats (and to their annoyance) in the house, and they never got it. I think it'd have to be a particularly brutal 'real' cat fight for there to be chance of infection.

Thank you for what you've already done to improve this cat's life!!
posted by destructive cactus at 5:58 PM on February 2, 2017 [1 favorite]

Adding that FIV+ cats are eminently adoptable. She clearly already has a high tolerance for human contact so she would probably be a good candidate if you decided to take her to a (no-kill) shelter.

Also: THAT FACE!!! I would definitely be tempted if I lived anywhere nearby.
posted by orrnyereg at 7:12 AM on February 3, 2017

« Older Travel Ban Executive Order Enforcement   |   My screen cracked. 6S or 7? Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.