Busting the myths about FIV – Feline Immunodeficiency Virus

Published on 13 February 2022

Did you know that cats with Feline Immunodeficency Virus (FIV) spend twice as long at RSPCA Victoria shelters waiting to find their forever home?

FIV isn’t as scary as it sounds, but it can put off a lot of prospective adopters who don’t understand what it really means. The team members at RSPCA Victoria think it’s about time to give these cats some love, so here are the most five most common myths about FIV and the truth behind them!

Myth one: FIV causes infections and disease

Simply put, FIV is a virus that weakens a cat’s normal immune response. That means it can be harder for FIV positive cats to fight off infections and disease compared to other cats. FIV rarely causes symptoms as is.

Many FIV cats go their entire lives showing no signs of infection or disease. Owners can help ensure their cats are well protected by keeping them indoors all the time. This ensures they aren’t exposed to any infections or disease that may be in the community and keeps them safe, happy and healthy.

Myth two: FIV cats have short lifespans

This could not be further from the truth. FIV is an incredibly slow virus – it can take years before it has an impact, if any at all. Even if your cat is exposed to an infection or disease FIV does not prevent their immune system from responding appropriately, it may just take longer for them to recover.

With a good diet, adequate environment, regular vet checks and an indoor-only lifestyle, your FIV cat can live as long as any other cat. Chances are you won’t even notice they have FIV!

Myth three: FIV cat have AIDS

Sometimes FIV and Feline AIDS are used interchangeably, which is incorrect. FIV can develop into a disease similar to human AIDS, however, this would only occur in the late life stages of an FIV cat’s life, if at all.

Myth four: FIV is highly contagious

Again, this is a myth with no foundation. FIV is primarily transmitted through deep bite wounds between cats or between mother to kitten through milk. It is not transmissible to humans or any other animal species.

Myth five: FIV positive cats can’t live with other cats

As above, FIV is typically transmitted through serious bite wounds. An appropriate and calm introduction between two desexed cats will see very little chance of a cat fight. It is incredibly unlikely that FIV can be transmitted through casual contact, such as grooming or sharing the same food bowl.

FIV positive and negative cats can live, and do live, in harmony in households all around Australia. For added peace of mind, we recommend vaccinating your current cat against FIV before bringing your new feline friend home.

So, with all this in mind, what are you waiting for?! FIV cats are just as cuddly, just as cute, and just as deserving of a loving home to call their own.

Help change the narrative and adopt an FIV cat today.

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