October 25, 2012
Categories: Shelter Medicine

Cats_ShelteredIMG_1931A Boston shelter veterinarian wants to make one thing perfectly clear: Falling in love with and adopting a cat who has FIV can be a story with a happy ending.

Cindi Barker Cox, DVM, the lead veterinarian at the MSPCA-Angell Shalit Glazer Clinic, is on a mission to debunk misconceptions about cats with feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV), who are usually at a serious disadvantage in terms of getting adopted – a disadvantage she thinks is based more on fear than reality.

In a recent article for the GateHouse News Service, Dr. Cox wrote:

  • FIV is a “cat only” disease and cannot be transmitted to humans under any circumstances.
  • Most often, FIV positive (FIV+) cats live long, healthy and relatively symptom free lives.
  • FIV is not easily passed between cats. It cannot be transmitted casually through shared. litter boxes, water and food bowls, or when snuggling or playing. It is also very rarely transmitted from a mother to her kittens.

That last statement makes a particularly important point, as many people who are looking to adopt a cat have at least one feline family member already. Is Dr. Cox really saying FIV+ cats can be safely adopted into a home with other cats?

“A neutered FIV+ cat who lives in a home, is extremely unlikely to pass the virus on to FIV negative cats in the home so long as they are properly introduced,” she writes. “We have many cat adopters whose FIV+ cats live perfectly well with their FIV negative feline housemates.”

Dr. Cox has more great information for shelters and rescue groups trying to find homes for FIV+ cats, as well as people considering adopting one, here.