OUR Experience with FIV (Feline Aids) and Our Own Cats
Updated: Sep 8, 2021
This topic is close to my heart and we want to share "Our Experience" with Sneakers and Stripy II, who were both FIV Positive. We Encourage You to give FIV Positive Cats a Chance and help them to live normal lives despite their handicap !!
(Stripey II - front left, Stripey I, Upper right and Blackie)
So what is FIV? Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, This is a retrovirus infection that was first discovered in cats in the United States. This virus is often referred to as cat HIV, cat AIDS or Kitty AIDS due to the similar effect on felines. FIV-positive cats could potentially have the virus in their system for years before showing any signs of illness. FIV is only contagious among cats and usually difficult to transmit. It is a slow-acting virus, so cats generally do not show any symptoms or illness until years after being infected. FIV is not contagious to humans and other than making sure that there is no fighting and biting with other cats, most cats with FIV can live contently with one or several other cats and never spread the virus. Sneakers co-mingles with us and 16 other cats just fine.
Meet SNEAKERS (Far Left in Picture). Sneakers is a basic tiger mixed breed cat. We estimate he is approximately between 5-6 years old. Sneakers started showing up at our home, outside, in late spring of 2017. We do not believe he was feral at that point, however, certainly not trusting of people at all. It took several months of feeding and
providing outside shelter for him to hang out in so that we could try to gain his trust over time.
(Sneakers is on the right)
Towards the end of summer 2017 I felt like I had gained a little ground in the ability to get closer to him, but we were NOT on petting terms yet. We had noticed though over time, that we thought he might have a hearing loss as it took louder sounds to get his attention, especially if he was looking in the other direction when we approached him. So in my first attempt to grab him, he was sitting on top of our outdoor grill just enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. I snuck around our house and came up through a wooded section, TRYING to walk ever so quietly. However, I seem to find every stick and twig/branch to step on and break them making noise along the way. Sneakers
never budged or looked until I got within 6 feet of him and then he took off as he had at other times where I even came within 10-15 feet of him.
(Sneakers enjoying Sunshine in our 18'L X 5'W X 8'T Outdoor Professional Habitat)
Finally, towards the end of November 2017, I had coaxed him to eat on the large step right outside our patio door as we have that large step heated and designed where we can place food bowls down (to keep them from freezing) and the way the door opens into the inside of our home, it allows me to grab them quickly and quietly while they are busy eating (especially when it’s cold). Finally, we had Success, we got him inside our Sunroom. Unlike some other cats we caught, sneakers adjusted quickly to his new, safe and warm surroundings and amazingly got along with our other cats.
Shortly after we get any cats, we always have them tested for everything before allowing them to comingle with our other cats. Unfortunately, Sneakers tested positive for Kitty Aids / FIV, and is estimated he is at least half deaf. My first experience with FIV was with a non-profit organization that did low cost spay/neuter services for cats in Medina, Ohio. They went out of business a few years ago now. Unfortunately for us, we had one cat (Stripey II) that was the mother of THREE of our current cats (Mojo, Tigger and Smokey) and we took her there to be fixed. She was also tested for all the normal stuff and they called me and said that she was FIV (Kitty Aids) positive and suggested to me to “put her down” as it would be best and humane. They advised me it was not a good idea to have her interact with other cats as she could infect them. So, NOT KNOWING ANY BETTER, I very reluctantly agreed to have her put down and to this day I REGRET IT SO MUCH and wish I knew the truth of what I know now, back then.
(Stripey II is with my wife's original cat Kasey buried with this Marker)
Her name was Stripey #2 as she was a Twin to our current Stripey. Dr. Ted Gerber, of Country Corner Animal Clinic in Orrville, Ohio, one of our long time, TRUSTED Vets we use told me the results for Sneakers when we took him to be tested and fixed. Sneakers was FIV Positive. My heart sunk as I did not want to lose that little guy too. However, Dr. Gerber gave me a great education on how they can live together and that it will probably take a little more caring for him as his immune system will be compromised and challenged more so than other normal, healthy cats. The first year with Sneakers was with us, I had several issues with him getting sick, mostly diarrhea and common colds. After a severe cold/flu like sickness that he got, several of our other cats sick wound up sick with a cold/flu like sickness and all with snotty noses. I put Sneakers and my other cats on a product from VetriScience, called "Lysine" for the immune system. These are little fish shape treats. None of the other cats have been sick with any colds/flu since. We do have a could of Male cats that REFUSE to eat the Lysine treats, but they are also very particular on what flavor treats they eat in general.
(Sneakers is the 1st Cat, then Whitey is the 2nd with Boots crossing the room)
There were several of my cats now who will NOT eat them, but Sneakers and 9 others will and since then sneakers really hasn’t been sick. The biggest thing with an FIV Positive kitty is knowing how they transmit their disease (mostly though a direct bite to another cat) and knowing how to care for the FIV cats and signs to look for to keep those cats healthy. These cats can live long lives as well, especially if you feed them good quality food and giving them some extra supplements helps to support their immune system better.
(Sneakers hanging out in a Cat Tree)
Sneakers to us is a Very SPECIAL Cat, he is so appreciative of all we do for him !! Every morning when we clean the Sunroom area he primarily lives in, he is always coming up to us and loving us (head butts, rubbing up against us and purring) while we clean his overnight large cage (he's in from 11:30pm to 7am), his litter box and more. The main reason we do cage sneakers overnight is we have another cat that is a lot of times Hyper-Active. Sneakers and this cat love to play with each other, but sometimes it can go too far, and we are not awake to monitor them during those hours, so each of these cats are in a large, two level cage from 11:30pm until 7am or so and during feeding times to keep both of them separated during feeding as we give them special food. Other than that they are all living, sleeping and playing together with each other.
(Sneakers comfy in his 4' X 4 1/2' X 3' overnight cage)
So bottom line, if you think that a cat having FIV (Kitty Aids) is not for you, I would strongly encourage you to reconsider. Sneakers and others that I have met along the way ALL seem to be very loving and caring kitties that I would not hesitate in adopting knowing what I know today. Of course, each situation can and will be different. I am
sure there will be some cats who will not get along with other cats as each personality is so different, and that of course is a different issue, but certainly well worth the effort to
try to see if it will work out. Of course, always consult your own veterinarian for suggestions. I would strongly encourage you though NOT to put them down just because the have FIV, unless they are truly SUFFERING or in constant pain from other issues that will not resolve over a short period of time and medication.