Should I foster cats with a FHV-1 carrier resident cat?
August 13, 2018 12:44 PM   Subscribe

My lovely 8-year-old cat, who was originally a rescue, has periodic FHV-1 (feline herpes) outbreaks so is definitely a carrier. I'm thinking about fostering another cat, but wondering how her FHV might affect that.

After the unexpected (and unrelated) death of her sister cat earlier this year from FATE, I started thinking about adopting another cat. Then it occurred to me that fostering might be a good thing for us both, to take us out of ourselves (we're both still missing Other Cat a lot) and to do a small good thing for the world (our shelters and rescues are currently way over capacity for cats & kittens).

Resident Cat had a bad bout of feline herpes as a 2-month-old (before I adopted her) -- according to her records she was in the animal hospital for 16 days with it -- and continues to have frequent outbreaks with a runny eye and lots of sneezing. She pretty much takes this in her stride, though.

I've done a lot of reading online, but haven't found anything about this situation in particular. We also have an appointment with a new vet at the end of the week, but I'd like to go into that armed with some basic info if possible (and I'm anxious to better understand this ASAP).

I'm especially interested in hearing from people who have a cat who experiences feline herpes outbreaks and have introduced new cats (permanently or temporarily) into the household, or get references to good, accurate info online.

• Should we go ahead and foster, but stay away from fostering kittens, elderly cats, and immunocompromised cats?

• Should we only foster cats who currently have or have recently recovered from "shelter cold"?

• If we do foster, would we need to take extreme quarantine steps?

• Should we just give fostering a miss, and adopt one cat? Maybe one that is known to be carrying or currently has feline herpes?

• Should I do neither, and continue doing my best to comfort my current cat? I'm a bit worried about stressing her even if I take it as slowly as possible with introducing a new cat.

Thank you! I'll report back on what the vet says later this week.
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla to Pets & Animals (3 answers total)
It might come down to whether the foster organization's would allow it. They have a ton of experience placing fosters in families, so i would imagine that they would give you the best advice. And truthfully, I think they would be able to advise you as well as or better than the vet in this situation. And new vet! I'd probably let the first vet visit be 95% about Resident Cat and 5% about how RC's health would interact with other cats. Vets are awesome, but the foster agency is going to be your best bet.

My condolences on Other Cat to you and Resident Cat.
posted by Stewriffic at 1:24 PM on August 13, 2018

I will say that my second to last last foster ended up being a foster fail who has periodic outbreaks of herpes, and he's lived with lots of other cats, including my last set of foster kittens, and none of them have ever gotten sick from him. There are other concerns to keep in mind, especially if you get very small kittens (my last set of foster kittens were probably 3 months when I got them and came to me sick), but it's not inherently impossible.
posted by jeather at 2:07 PM on August 13, 2018

I would specify to the rescue that you want to foster another FHV-1 positive kitty.
posted by crw at 3:53 PM on August 13, 2018 [2 favorites]

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