Understanding FIV in Cats

Ask-A-VCC Vet: What is FIV and how does it affect cats?


FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, a condition that weakens a cat’s immune system.  “It attacks the white blood cells, making [cats] more susceptible to other infections,” Dr. Heath Brown of our Merriam Veterinary Care Center says.  He says it is most commonly found in roaming male cats.

Considering adopting a cat with FIV? Here’s what you should know:

Indoors Only:  “These cats are not allowed to be outdoors,” Brown says, noting they could be exposed to secondary infections or become a source of infection to other cats.

Life Span: Regular wellness exams will help your cat live a full life.  “It can take quite a long time for these cats to be clinically ill.  It’s a slowly progressive disease,” Brown says.  “These cats can often go on to live a long, happy life.”

Cost: A cat with FIV isn’t typically expensive to care for.  If a cat gets an infection due to FIV, Brown says it can often be treated with relatively inexpensive antibiotics.

Infections: Common reoccurring infections include respiratory and intestinal infections.  FIV only affects cats and can be spread to other felines through reproduction and biting.

Cuddles: Get ready for lots of them! “They do seem to be quite friendly cats, very good natured cats,” Brown says.  “They love company and affection and socialization. That has been my experience with them.”

Our Independence location has some loving cats with FIV looking for their forever home!

Is your cat overdue on his or her wellness exam? Make an appointment with our VCC today!


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