What You Should Know Before Adopting A FIV Positive Cat?

what you should know before adopting FIV positive cat

You have been searching for a cat to adopt at the local shelter and there’s one that has really caught your eye. Unfortunately, the medical report of the cat says that it is FIV positive.

You know that FIV positive cats can live long, healthy lives, but you’re worried about passing it to your furry friends or about the quality of life for an FIV cat.

This post will help shed some light on what to expect when adopting an FIV positive cat.

Feline Immunodeficiency Virus (FIV) Positive Cats Lifespan

One important thing that you need to know and come to terms with is the lifespan of such cats. FIV stands for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus. It’s a medical condition whereby a virus in the cat weakens or attacks its immune system.

The virus is transmitted through the saliva or blood of the infected cat via fights or mating.

Cats that have FIV are prone to getting sick and infections. This is because the immune system isn’t strong enough to fight off foreign bodies as compared to a non-FIV cat.

You can’t visually tell if the cat has FIV unless you do a blood test. Many such cats don’t show any symptoms at all for months or even years.

The lifespan of an FIV cat varies from cat to cat thus it can be difficult to predict.

About 20-25% of diagnosed cats live about 4-5 years.

The good news is that many healthy FIV positive cats can live a normal life span like non-FIV cats. At some point, the immune system is strong enough to suppress the virus.

Thus it is very important to do what you can to strengthen your cat’s immune system as soon as possible.

We will touch more on this later.

Symptoms Of A FIV Positive Cat

Although there are many FIV cats that don’t exhibit symptoms, it is important to recognise them when it does occur.

  • dull fur
  • lack of appetite
  • chronic loose stools
  • inflammation of the gums
  • bad breath
  • lack of energy
  • seizures

The thing about FIV cats is that there’s no one specific symptom that’s caused by the Feline Immunodeficiency virus. If you do notice your cat having one or more of the above signs for a few days, it’s best to bring it to the vet asap.

The faster the vet can resolve the issue the better chance of preventing more complications.

Can FIV Positive Cats Live With FIV Negative Cats?

cat transmit FIV to another cat

Yes, it is possible if all the cats are properly socialized from the start.

If one of the cats has a tendency to be aggressive to others, then there’s a chance of a fight happening and the virus spreading.

However, if the existing cats can live in harmony with the FIV cat then all is good.

The risk of transmission from sharing bowls and grooming each other is very low so there’s not much to worry about.

But to follow the old adage of “Prevention is better than cure”, it would be in the best interest of the FIV positive cat to be rehomed in a single cat family than one with other cats.

This will ensure that there’s less stress on the FIV cat and eliminate the risk of any transmission.

Boosting The Immune System Of FIV Positive Cats

As mentioned earlier, the most important thing you can do in order to prolong the life span of an FIV cat is to keep its immune system strong. Here are a few ways that you can go about doing it.

Feed A Good Diet

You are what you eat.

This rule applies to humans and it applies to our pets as well. Feed a good diet and it can help transform the life of your cat.

If you adopted your cat from a pet adoption drive at the local shelter, chances are it has been on kibble or dry food diet.

A dry food diet isn’t healthy for any cat and even more for cats with an underlying medical condition. It contains a large percentage of carbs that cats can’t digest.

Furthermore, dry food contains no moisture which can cause chronic kidney diseases for cats.

The best diet you can give your cat is the raw meat diet.

It’s the most natural diet for them as cats are obligate carnivores. This means that their body needs a high-protein diet to thrive and be healthy.

Switching to a raw diet can take time so be prepared for it.

However, the benefits for your cat will be tremendous.

Feed Important Supplements

Besides needing a high-protein diet, cats also need a variety of nutrients and supplements.

Organ Meat

When a cat catches its prey, there’s a high chance that it will eat everything. Hence with the raw food diet, we need to feed some organ meat, like liver, kidney, heart, along with muscle meat.

Organ meat contains many good vitamins and minerals that cats need.


Taurine is an essential amino acid that cats need but are not able to produce naturally in adequate quantities.

Taurine is very important for cats and it helps to keep many of their main organs healthy and functioning well. A lack of this nutrient can be very dangerous for your kitty.

Omega 3

Omega 3 is a fatty acid that isn’t only healthy for humans but also for FIV positive cats.

Our main source of Omega 3 is normally from fish but too much fish isn’t good for cats. Fish meat contains an enzyme that can interfere with the absorption of Vitamin B. Plus there’s also a risk of mercury from too much fish.

The best way to introduce Omega 3 to your cat is with a high-quality Omega 3 supplement that’s meant for pets.

Don’t Let Your Cat Get Fat

don't let FIV cat get fat

It’s important to keep your cat’s weight in check.

A cat that is overweight or obese will run into many health issues over time.

Here are some health problems that can arise from a cat that’s too fat:

  • Diabetes
  • Arthritis
  • Cancer
  • Urinary bladder stones

A dry food diet can cause fast weight gain in a cat due to the high carbohydrate content. With a raw food diet, your cat will get the protein it needs and this helps to keep the weight in check.

It’s fine to give your cat a treat every now and then but do note that treats can contain a high amount of carbs so make sure to moderate it.

Play With Your Cat

Cats aren’t exactly the most active and interactive pets as compared to dogs. They will play by themselves or with you occasionally but most of the day is spent eating and sleeping.

Kittens are more active and naturally playful due to their high energy reserves. As cats age, they tend to be less active.

If you are adopting a senior cat, make sure to schedule some play time daily.

Cats like toys that they can hunt and chase. So toys that can move and resemble prey will trigger the hunter in them.

If all else fails, there’s always the red laser pointer that cats love to chase.

Just don’t point it in your cat’s face as it can harm their sensitive eyes.

When To Put Down A Cat With FIV

Sometimes, even with our best efforts, the virus load is just too much for the cat’s body to handle.

If the cat, isn’t eating or drinking, is in pain, hiding and there’s a drastic decrease in the quality of the cat’s life, then euthanasia might be the most humane decision you can make.

It will be a very hard decision to make and one that you will need to find the answer in your heart.

Final Thoughts

If there’s one takeaway from this article, please remember that having FIV for a cat is not a death sentence. Yes, it is something that can be fatal but there are many FIV infected cats that have lived happy, healthy and complete lives.

If the cat that you want to adopt has FIV, don’t let it be a deterrent.

You have what it takes to give it a loving forever home.