In an effort to keep community members aware of the SPCA’s current policy regarding FIV+ cats, we are reposting this informative article from August of 2020.


August 6, 2020
By:  SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth & Director of Behavior and Research Miranda K. Workman

The SPCA Serving Erie County is making a change in its policy concerning the adoption of cats testing positive for Feline Immunodeficiency Virus, or FIV.

Previously, the SPCA only allowed the adoption of FIV+ cats to families with no other felines, or families with other FIV+ cats. Current research, however, supports the adoption of FIV+ cats into homes that include non-infected felines.

The SPCA’s new Director of Behavior & Research, Miranda K. Workman, in collaboration with SPCA Vice President of Veterinary Services Melanie Rushforth and SPCA Shelter Veterinarian Dr. Allison Kean, says, “Based on current research, FIV+ cats can live successfully in multi-cat households that include non-FIV+ cats with extremely low risk of transmission, especially when all cats in the group are prosocial. Research shows that rate of transmission is much less likely than originally thought many years ago.”

Rushforth offers the following information concerning FIV:

“FIV is an immune deficiency virus belonging to the same family of viruses that include human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) causing human AIDS. This is not to say that the viruses can cross from cat to human or human to cat, but merely explains why the medical consequences of FIV in cats can be very similar to those experienced by people with HIV. As with people living with HIV, cats infected with FIV require extra medical care and extra attention to their diet and health. And as with people living with HIV, cats infected with FIV can live long, healthy lives. FIV is not easily transmitted between cats. Therefore, other than ensuring that there is no fighting and biting, most cats with FIV can live happily with one or two other cats and never spread their virus.

Cats with FIV can live long and healthy lives. Many of these cats age normally and do not show signs of FIV-related illness.

FIV is a cat-specific virus-it can only be transferred between cats, and no other species can be infected. Since FIV can cause immunosuppression and, in theory, can increase the risk of a cat succumbing to certain infectious diseases, it is important to have the cat receive twice yearly veterinary care. All cats, including FIV-infected cats, should receive regular flea prevention consistent with the risks in the area they live.

All cats have unique personalities. Cats with FIV are no exception. Since these cats are able to live long, healthy lives, there is no reason that they cannot be a part of someone’s family. There are some who consider that FIV cats may pose too much of a risk to other cats or that the FIV-positive cat is destined to become ill from the virus. These individuals may suggest euthanasia of a cat that tests positive for FIV. This is an absolutely unnecessary measure. Cats infected with FIV should not be euthanized, unless they are actually experiencing a severe, debilitating illness that cannot be treated (as we would with any other cat).”

Workman and Rushforth encourage those considering adoption of an FIV+ cat to speak with SPCA behavior staff and veterinary technicians prior to adoption to answer any questions.

For more information, please contact Rushforth or Workman at the SPCA Serving Erie County: 716-875-7360.