with FIV need everyone to understand the realities of
We have had many cats with FIV in our sanctuary, several
with us for ten years or more and, in general terms,
they have been both healthy and happy and living a full
(but protected) life.
know that FIV is a much misunderstood virus and, over
the years, this misunderstanding has resulted in many
otherwise healthy cats being euthanased - quite
FIV virus reduces a cat's immune system, slowly
(over several years) this can leave it more
vulnerable to other feline infections,
that is all - in itself FIV is not life threatening.
be transmitted to humans
is often misunderstood, is that a cat with FIV will
usually have a strong immune system for several
years after infection, it is only with time,
that the effects of the virus may start to show, and
even then, most infections can be handled by
The FIV cats that do suffer, are those that are
long-term strays, who have survived on a poor diet and
probably been involved in fights, with subsequent
injuries going untreated - this is the scenario that
leads to the suffering that is wrongly thought to be
common to all FIVs.
our experience, FIV positive cats can have, and
deserve to have, a long and healthy life. They need
careful attention to their general health and diet,
but this is no more than any cat should receive. A
properly cared for FIV cat need not have a shortened
The effectiveness of all cats' immune systems reduce
with age. Not many would recommend euthanasia just
because a cat is getting elderly, so why so with FIV?
main problem is that the virus can be transmitted to
other cats (only cats - no other species). In the vast
majority of cases, it is transmitted through biting.
Cats fight for three main reasons: food, territory and
mating. By providing a regular food supply and
neutering, the need to fight is dramatically reduced,
making the transmission of FIV far less likely.
Euthanasia of FIV cats is a vast over reaction due to
a lack of understanding about the true nature of the
are many unidentified FIV cats everywhere, and most
cats will come in contact with ones carrying the virus
at some point, but, without fighting, there is no
reason for them to become infected.
the virus is not currently a realistic objective;
and, putting to sleep a few individuals, identified
with the virus but otherwise healthy, seems to us to
be a futile reaction.
Correcting some of the basic misconceptions about
FIV is not in itself a life-threatening
FIV is not 'Cataids'
FIV does not necessarily shorten life
FIV cannot be transferred to other species
(animal or human)
is a virus that affects the cat's immune system, it
acts very slowly, and it is often several years before
the cat shows any signs of a damaged immune system, -
many never suffer at all!
FIV can make a cat more susceptible to other
infections, which means they need care and protection.
is like when humans are 'one degree under'. When
'run-down' we tend to pick up colds and suffer from
minor sores, mouth ulcers etc, more so than when in
top condition. It can be the same with FIV cats if
they are not cared for.
any animal (and human), their immune response varies
in effectiveness from time to time depending on their
general health. When we get run-down what do we do? -
We take a tonic, get more sleep, have better
food, take a holiday, we then regain our strength. The
same is true of FIV positive cats - with good care,
good food, and security, and preventing stressful
circumstances, they seem to recover from most
secondary infections just like non-FIV cats.
FIV cats that have problems are the strays who have
no-one looking after them - these can fall prey to all
the other infections around, usually brought about
through fighting for food, territory or females, and
without treatment, these can escalate. It is mostly
the un-neutered toms that fight, and therefore pick up
and spread the virus. When one of these gets captured
and taken to a vet, suffering from all manner of
secondary infections, it is often too late. These
cats are the ones that have led to the undeserved
fear about FIV. It is the nature of a vet's
work, that they will see many more ill cats than
healthy ones, whereas in fact, there are very many
more healthy FIV cats than ill ones - they just don't
need to see the vet! - take a look at the photos of
the FIV cats in our sanctuary (on
the sanctuary page) and decide for yourself
whether they look healthy or not - most have no need
to see a vet from one end of the year to another.
to our sanctuary often express surprise "We expected
to see loads of ill cats, but they all look so happy
and healthy!" - Yes, that's because they are!
FIV is not the terrible thing it is made out to be, it
is no more than a weakness!
A couple of quick examples of FIV cats (more
details available, see below):
Patrick came to us in 1999 in a poor state, very thin
and with little fur on his back.
Patrick on arrival
Patrick needed nothing more than good general care; he
soon recovered and turned into a truly remarkable cat
Patrick the following year
Nick was diagnosed as FIV at one of the national
'rescue' organisations. As he was also very
frightened, and in a generally poor state, he was
destined to be put to sleep - until we were told about
him, and he came to us.
Nick on arrival in 2004
Nick, like Patrick, needed nothing more than basic
good care - no special medications or suppliments,
just good, regular food, and general care.
Nick in Feb 2007
more details of these and other examples of FIV cats
who have taught us so much, follow these links:
and our latest example to show the healing powers
still retained by an FIV cat: